This is the new, refreshed DS 3, which looks quite like earlier editions of this popular EV crossover, until you take in the finer details – at which point you’ll find enough going on to make it feel more than just a mid-life update. The designers have spruced-up the front and rear ends, and while the interior remains as individual as ever, the technology has been upgraded to keep pace with the firm’s newer models.
It’s a car that comes dripping in all the fancy stuff the premium French brand is known for – and is also a little bit quirky, as befits the marque. DS will still sell you a version with a petrol engine, with prices starting from £25,900 for an entry-level Performance Line, but the electric edition seen here starts north of £37k. The top-of-the-range Opera E-Tense 225 tested here will set you back £42,700.
That buys you a 115kW electric motor and 54kWh battery pack combo, which claims a potential range of 270 miles. It’s not cheap, but it is a practical and very cool little EV. If you loved the DS way of doing things before, there’s plenty of reasons to think this might be the car to make you take the plunge.
Older DS 3s still look the part thanks to their distinctive styling, but the new model comes with some subtle tweaks that gives it even more of an edge – as well as improved aerodynamic efficiency. The front end is more dramatic, thanks to very cool LED headlights that seem to almost carve their way into the bonnet. Angular daytime running lights then form the perfect sandwich to the distinctive new diamond grille. The entire front end looks much more purposeful as a result.
Around the back, slender taillights and a boot-spanning signature create a brooding look if you go for the black badging option. It’s still slightly bulbous, like the old car, but gels well enough. The sides have those familiar bodywork curves, which work to best effect on the rear doors. You get cool chrome flush fitting door handles too. Careful attention has also been paid to the wheels; our car featured 18-inch ‘Nice’ diamond cut alloys that looked the part.
DS makes better use of colour than many manufacturers, who seem obsessed with various shades of grey and silver. You get a choice of seven body colours and two contrasting roof shades for a more personal combination. Best of the bunch has to be Riva Red. It doesn’t skimp on the interior trim, either, with our car having a mix of Alcantara and leather. The delicious high-density seats look and feel brilliant, especially with the watch strap interlink finish. Extra comfort – as if you need it – comes via massage seats. It’s all topped off with a much nicer steering wheel design than the outgoing car.
Out on the road, the cute little DS 3 is quite the entertainer. While there’s nothing too radical about the way the power comes through, irrespective of the drive mode you choose, it’s the way the car handles that makes it so much fun. You can bundle it through bends or around mini roundabouts and come out the other side unscathed. Yes, it’s yet another compact crossover, but at just over 4m long and sitting quite low to the Tarmac, it makes for a nice change of pace from the higher-riding SUV alternatives.
Despite the neat-looking gear shifter, there’s not much to do with it beyond engaging drive and selecting a stronger braking mode if you fancy a bit of energy recuperation along the way.
Naturally, putting the pedal to the metal will ultimately take its toll on range, but during our time with it the DS 3 seemed reasonably frugal. Official figures suggest somewhere between 232 and 270 miles, and we’d say 250 seems realistically possible. Anything over the 200 mark instantly makes any EV that much more of a practical proposition, so in that respect the DS 3 makes the grade. It’s also wonderfully comfy for those longer runs.
It’s all covered in geometric patterns, but there’s enough reasonably spicy tech packed into the DS 3 to help keep it relevant. You’ll notice the heads-up display straight away, but there’s also cabin pre-conditioning, keyless entry, and semi-autonomous cruise control via DS Drive Assist. And don’t overlook the rather good Focal Electra audio system.
Central to the fun though is the infotainment system found in the segment-spanning DS 4 late last year. The landscape-oriented 10.3in touchscreen looks equally at home inside the DS 3, and can be thoroughly customised to suit your own requirements.
Features like the navigation and voice recognition seemed to work dependably during our time spent with the car, and the promise of over the air updates suggest they won’t also become obsolete the minute you drive off the forecourt.
DS 3 verdict
The DS 3 is a great little EV, with a compact design, lively performance and entertaining handling in top-tier Opera E-Tense 225 form. If you’re buying one of the lowlier models it’s worth picking through the extra equipment options, but there’s always a generous kit selection included as standard. Whichever version you go for, the firm’s signature comfort focus remains intact.
Those looks remain both distinctive and divisive, especially with the twin tone paintwork accentuating the body lines – and even more so once you’ve spent time picking through the brochure’s many personalisation options. There are no less than five geographically-themed alloy wheel variants, with Dublin, Oslo, Nice, Toulouse and, erm, Boston vying to give your new car an extra touch of pizazz.
It’s not just about the pose factor though, because the DS 3 is a cracking electric car to drive too. Très bien!
Dazzling exterior looks and premium cockpit the jumping off point for an EV that’s plenty of fun to drive.
DS 3 technical specifications
|Cargo volume||350 litres|