So is the DES 3 Crossback E-Tense La Prèmiere a winner for the new DS brand? Before you get hooked by the looks you need to live with a car and get to know its personality and the longer I spent with the new DS the more I liked it.
The DS 3 La Prèmiere is the flagship model and a fine-looking all-electric compact SUV. It’s pretty much in a category of its own. If style and luxury are high on your list this is a great contender.
It has a 50Kwh Lithium-Ion Battery that powers a 134 bhp electric motor sitting over the front wheels. The single-speed automatic gearbox will get you to 62 mph in 8.7 secs and peak at 93 mph. The range is given at 191 to 206 miles when fully charged.
Charging is simple, plug in and leave overnight. Voila, a full tank of chemical energy (7.5 hours from a 7 kW charger or 80% charged in 30 minutes from a 100kW rapid charge point. It also plugs into any normal socket.
It has plenty of character and manages some nice little touches with the front grille, muscular bonnet and curiously raised side wings by the two rear windows. The DS logo is reflected in lines and shapes throughout the exterior and adds to the unique personality of this electric eco-car. This urban utility vehicle presages a taste of the future, where cars become mobile luxury living environments. Plus if you can drive a golf cart you can drive this. In fact, the response is very similar, albeit with more power, range and refinement.
I was impressed by the 18 inch Kyoto diamond-cut alloy wheels with white DS centre caps. Call me a tire kicker, but the design touches are well thought out in every aspect of the car, from interior to exterior and all the trimmings. For instance, the door handles are flush and pop out as you approach along with automatic unlocking. The undulating front lights are pretty cool and the rear boot is capacious.
There is also an app for your phone that lets you check charge status, approximate range, connection status of the car, programming temperature pre-set and more. Plus you can pick a heads up display as on extra option.
The cabin is surprisingly comfortable and plush. The luxury has been cleverly apportioned. White diamond leather with contrast stitching is placed at eye level, and any plastic lower down where it’s less apparent. The seats maintain this with Pebble Grey Luxembourg cloth in the middle and Nappa leather at the sides. A wise and durable choice. The diamond tessellation pattern throughout the car reflects the dashboard so the overall impression is excellent.
The interior decor is, as the delivery driver said, “very French” or to put another way, it owes much to 20’s Art Deco which is fabulous. The diamond window and door lock buttons are touch-sensitive and easily reached, lying in parallel either side of the gear stick. Whilst the start/stop button is featured dead centre rather than hidden away as an afterthought. The instrument cluster is a full-colour lozenge-shaped screen and easily visible through the steering wheel.
The 10 inch HD touchscreen has Apple CarPlayTM and Android Auto® and is attractive, whilst easy and intuitive to use. Touchscreen just resonates with every iPad user and this taps into that. You'll not need to look anything up to access every setting. A boon for Boomers.
The Première has a smartphone wireless recharging pad in the centre console, oh happy days. Why did it take so long to get this one going? Bravo DS! The cabin is well insulated and you get the faintest hint of the electric motor, just enough to know that it is actually working. Rather a pleasant sound as it whines up. The diamond-shaped speakers in the side struts are nifty too.
It’s no secret that French carmakers, like some of their British and German counterparts, lost their flair in the ’00s, but electric has provided DS with the chance to get things right, a clean slate. Putting passion back into the brand, creating cars they believe in that play to their strengths. This is an innovative design that riffs off the brand history and heritage. Value for money too as they are funnelling plenty of investment into the new cars, sharing the platform development with Peugeot and Citroen. The performance and quality are good enough to bring fun and luxury to a new audience.
The performance in Sport mode provides plenty of thrust, which quickly tapers off as once you’ve had all the torque, it does not build further. So whilst it’s not sporty per se, it does surge forward if needed. This means it’s a lot more fun to drive than the specs suggest.
The accelerator pedal gives you very little at first, then midway you get all that electric goodness. DS clearly judged it best to serve up all the power in the mid-range so that the car’s fun, responsive and comfortable. Electric motors are different from ICE as they can serve up all their torque without having to build up cylinder revolutions. Just increase the electricity to the motor and the magnets push the coil with a linear increase in energy.
The regenerative braking kicks in fairly softly, DS opted to keep a luxurious feel rather than kick back more power through an aggressive deceleration. Excellent for those coming over from petrol SUV’s but one-pedal driving is getting more popular. Though there is a setting to make it more regenerative.
The three drive modes are well-judged. You’ll keep it in Normal most of the time, Sport when you feel like some oomph and Eco for long relaxed journeys or you’re running low. If you’re taking short trips around country lanes stay in Sport mode.
The steering is sharp enough for an SUV and as it's front-wheel-drive it turns nicely into the corners. As for the range in Sport mode its probably more like 140 miles, and if careful in Eco, 180 miles. The range metre does adapt the remaining distance to your drive setting, so you’re kept informed if you swap between modes. The suspension is good, not as bouncy as some SUV’s and it's pretty confident in the corners whilst smoothing the bumps on the straights.
I feel that DS should have brought this out sooner, it would have been the early bird that got all the worms. The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is luxury enough to make you feel special, with a unique style. I would like to see them take even more risks, but this is a brilliant relaunch of the DS brand with a proud history and heritage. I rapidly became fond of the DS 3 E-Tense, it gets so many things just right. Most of all it provides a level of comfort, ease and luxury that is hard to find at this price. And you will not miss paying out for petrol, ever. The goddess is back! The original DS was a play on the French for déesse, or goddess, whilst the new DS badge stands for Different Spirit.
Another plus is there’s no road tax or congestion charge and the battery is warrantied for eight years or 100,000 miles.
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense La Prèmiere: £36,490 OTR with government grant
With options for this model: £37,340