Classed as the ‘premium’ manufacturer of the French PSA Group - parent company to mainstream brands like Citroën, Peugeot and Vauxhall, DS launched their first all-electric vehicle; the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, a small plug-in SUV. Rivalling the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro and MG ZS EV, the E-Tense sees DS branch out from hatchbacks to SUVs – electric SUVs no less, attempting to compete in two sectors of the motor industry that are rapidly developing and increasing in popularity.
An alternative to the likes of the Audi Q2, Volkswagen T-Cross and the latest Nissan Juke, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is fitted with a 134bhp electric motor that is powered by a 50kWh battery, that drives the front wheels. The battery drives the car from 0-60mph in a little under 9 seconds and reaches a top speed of just 93mph whilst emitting zero carbon emissions. Although significantly less than the e-Niro’s 282mile range and the bigger battery boasted by the Kona Electric, the 50kWh lithium-ion battery gives the E-Tense a range of up to 200miles on a single charge. As for charging times, if you can find a 100kWH fast charger then charging the vehicle from 0- 80% will take just half an hour while a 7kWh home wall box will fully charge the E-Tense in around 8 hours.
With its 350kg battery located under the floor, the E-Tense is surprisingly soft-sprung and the compactness gives it a good deal of agility. The vehicle rides very well on good to average roads, dealing with bumps softly and the generously sized tyres give it good grip. On rougher road surfaces, it can occasionally bounce a little too much with the effects felt rippling throughout the cabin. While the E-Tense is not as sharp to drive in comparison to the Hyundai or Kia, the three driving modes; Eco, Normal and Sport do sharpen the accelerator response and gently increase steering effort when selected. Eco mode will restrict the vehicle power to just 80bhp in order to maximise range, while Normal will use 107bhp and Sport will unlock the full 134bhp. There’s also two settings for the regenerative braking system; Normal and Brake, with the Brake setting offering greater deceleration. Instead of an immediate burst of power, the E-Tense builds its pace steadily but very quietly which is reinforced by the thicker door panels and glass as well as the added acoustic windscreen. At motorway speeds, it cruises along relatively quietly but does generate some wind noise from the large wingmirrors.
As for the interior, it’s a striking design with a range of plush materials and technology available that make the E-Tense’s cabin a comfortable place to spend time in and, while not to everyone’s tastes, it certainly stands out from the crowd. In terms of space, the supportive, height adjustable front seats provide enough space for even the tallest drivers. Room in the back is decent enough with plenty of headroom and a reasonable amount of legroom available however, you would struggle to comfortably fit three adults across the rear seats, although that is perhaps to be expected with a vehicle of this size. The boot space is adequate with a capacity of 350litres behind the rear seats - which is slightly larger than the 334litres offered in the Hyundai Kona Electric, however, the protruding lip from the boot floor could be rather annoying when it comes to loading and unloading heavy or awkward items.
Depending on the trim selected - of which there are four to choose from; Performance Line, Prestige, Ultra Prestige and La Première, will see the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense fitted with plenty of safety aids that include autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition and DS drive assist that boasts semi-autonomous driving technology. The E-Tense also comes with smart technology such as MyDS, an app that will enable drivers to programme and monitor charging remotely from their smartphone as well as pre-heating or pre-cooling the interior ahead of journeys. All trims come with a 10inch digital touchscreen - apart from the Performance Line which has a 7inch display, that control most of the car’s functions and the panel of touch-sensitive shortcuts arranged in a diamond formation below, allow for quick access to certain functions like climate control. While the graphics and functionality are impressive, the software could be more intuitive especially when it comes to basic tasks such as adjusting the climate control temperature for example, that aren’t as user friendly as they could be whilst driving.
Should you buy one? While the E-Tense performs adequately, the increased practicality from the Niro and the Kona’s superior drive, not to mention the better range, will be enough to persuade a large portion of buyers. Despite this, The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is an interesting addition to the industry; a stylish, comfortable everyday EV with ‘premium’ branding, offering a new kind of compact luxury to the EV market at a price point not too dissimilar of less luxurious models currently available.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
• Interior √
• Practicality √
• Price √
• Passenger Space X
• Average Standard Kit X
(DS 3 Crossback E-Tense Performance Line)
• Price: £33,990
• Max speed: 93mph
• 0-60 mph: 8.7 Seconds
• Range: 200 miles
• Engine layout: Single Electric Motor
• Max. power: 134bhp
• CO2: 0 g/km
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