DS 3 Crossback Review
The DS 3 Crossback turn heads and has an interior that’ll impress. However, the interior’s layout takes some getting used to and alternative small SUVs are more practical.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Funky interior
- Personalisation options
- Comfy over bumps
What's not so good
- Fiddly interior buttons
- Average boot
- Expensive higher trim levels
DS 3 Crossback: what would you like to read next?
The DS 3 Crossback is the ideal small SUV if you like to stand out – it looks much more interesting than a VW T-Cross, yet costs a similar amount.
The VW can’t match the DS for funky interior styling, either. Of course, the most expensive models get the most leather covering their insides but even entry-level models benefit from an unusual diamond-inspired theme that looks like it should belong in a ritzy cocktail bar.
All models get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity so it’s easy to hook up your phone and use its apps. The system itself is easy to use, but VW’s touchscreen system beats it for speed of operation and logical menu structure.
And the futuristic design of the DS 3 Crossback’s dashboard also takes some getting used to. For example, the window controls are where the handbrake usually is and the touch-sensitive tiles on the dashboard (rather than pressable buttons) don’t have haptic feedback, so you never know if your selection has registered. You frequently end up pressing a button twice, thus cancelling the initial press. Annoying.
However, you will enjoy the DS 3 Crossback’s driving position, which is nice and high with an impressive amount of seat/steering wheel adjustment. Only high-spec models get electrical adjustment, but the levers on less expensive models are still super easy to use.
There’s good space up front and, impressively for the size of the car, good space in the back too – carrying four adults is no problem in the DS 3 Crossback. Try doing that with a Nissan Juke.
The DS 3 Crossback looks even cooler than the DS 7, it's decently spacious and there is also an electric E-Tense version.
The DS 3 trumps a Juke for boot space and the load area you get in the Crossback is nice and square but there are no practical features such as a false boot floor. You can, though, fold the rear seats easily via the levers on the top of the seatbacks should you need extra room. Even so, a VW T-cross offers a bigger boot than both.
The DS 3 Crossback feels a tad slow outside of town if you opt for the entry-level 100hp petrol engine but feels comfortable on urban roads and is decently economical. However, if you’re frequently driving on faster roads and need to keep up with traffic, the punchier 130hp petrol is a better bet.
The DS 3 Crossback was built with comfort in mind and it does a great job smothering bumps and potholes despite having fairly large wheels. You can sharpen up the driving experience of the DS 3 Crossback by selecting Sport mode but it never feels as agile as a SEAT Arona so you’re best sitting back and enjoying the fact there’s very little wind or road noise at any speed.
Also helping you relax on long journeys is DS’s optional adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. All you need to do is keep your hands on the steering wheel – the car steers, accelerates, brakes to a full stop and then sets off again, all on its own, using sensors in its front bumper.
All in all, the DS3 Crossback is a great choice and the best bit is that you don’t have to sacrifice interior space or driving enjoyment to have striking looks. Just bear in mind that the top trims are rather expensive and that there are small SUVs with bigger boots.
You get a cool-looking cabin design as standard in the DS 3 Crossback, but it isn’t all that intuitive to use.
The DS 3 Crossback has easy-to-park dimensions but also a good amount of room for passengers. However, boot capacity can’t match most alternatives.
You get manual adjustment to the front seats on all models but the levers are light and easy to use. If that sounds a bit old school, you can get electrical adjustment as an option. The best part is the generous range of adjustment, meaning you’ll have no trouble getting a comfy driving position. Height-adjustable front seats are standard on all models.
Surprisingly, for the size of the car, there’s good space in the back too. You’d never use it as an Uber, but it’s good to know the DS 3 Crossback can fit four six-foot adults in good comfort – something few alternatives can do. Anyone sitting in the middle will feel a bit squished, but that’s the case with just about any alternative that’s a similar size.
The good rear seat space and fairly wide opening rear doors mean that it’s easy putting in a child seat in the DS 3 Crossback – the Isofix mounting points are hidden behind zippers but are in the usual place in the seat bases so they’re easy to find and unzip. The height of the DS 3 Crossback also means you don’t have to stoop so low when doing the car-seat dance which means less strain on your back.
The DS 3 Crossback’s ritzy cabin may win points for looks, but it’s not the best for places to store your stuff. There’s a tray for your phone or the car’s keys in front of the gear selector, two cup holders behind it and a fairly small storage area under the armrest. You also get front door bins that can hold a 500ml water bottle but not much else and rear door bins that are even smaller than that. The DS 3 Crossback has a good number of storage cubbies, then, but none of them are as big as you’d want them to be.
While there is plenty of space for passengers, it’s not such good news for the boot. The DS 3 Crossback has a boot capacity of 350 litres. While the differences are small, the DS 3 Crossback has about the smallest boot out of any comparable alternative – a VW T-Cross has a boot that’s about 20% bigger. The DS also misses out on clever practical features such as the numerous tie-down hooks and nets you’d find in a Skoda Karoq, for example.
Thankfully, flipping the seats down is easily done via flaps on the top of the seatback so you can increase the boot capacity that way. Unfortunately, there’s no adjustable boot floor in the DS 3 Crossback so the folded rear seats do form a step in the boot that will make sliding bulky items in and out more difficult than in something like a VW T-Cross.
You can have the DS 3 Crossback with either a petrol or a diesel, and pretty soon, there’ll be a fully-electric version, too.
The DS 3 Crossback feels great around town and loves relaxed road trips, but it’s far from the sportiest small SUV you can have.
The DS 3 Crossback is offered with one petrol and one diesel engine with different power outputs available. The most affordable engine is the 100hp PureTech petrol – it’s fine for pootling around town, but motorway driving or climbing tall hills make the entry-level engine work really hard and as a result your fuel economy plummets.
Your best bet is the mid-range petrol, the 130hp PureTech – it adds that bit of extra performance the 100hp needs when overtaking, but you still get a cheap-to-run engine thanks to its relatively low capacity (1.2-litre). There’s also a 155hp version of the same 1.2-litre PureTech which gives you zippy performance and a sporty engine note, but also pushes prices too high to be the pick of the range.
If you’re a fan of diesel engines, you can have the DS 3 Crossback with a 100hp BlueHDi 1.5-litre and you can achieve some pretty amazing fuel economy – official fuel consumption for the diesel is 52mpg. However, the diesel DS 3 Crossback isn’t the cheapest in the range so you have to do quite a bit of miles each year to balance out the extra asking price.
All engines come as standard with a six-speed manual that is easy to use. However, a much more relaxing experience is the eight-speed automatic that can be fitted to the 130 and 155hp petrol engines. It can hesitate when you need it to change down, but otherwise is a great automatic gearbox that shuffles through the gears smoothly.
Late in 2019 there will also be a fully electric version of the DS 3 Crossback called the E-Tense. Range on a full charge is expected to be around 200 miles and it will have roughly 140hp. However, due to the way electric motors give out all their power instantly, it will feel quicker and more fun around town than a comparable petrol or diesel alternative – accelerating from a stop up to 30mph will take about 4 seconds in the E-Tense.
One of the biggest benefits you get with a DS 3 Crossback, if you compare it to something like a VW Golf, is the raised driving position. It not only makes getting in and out of it easier, but also gives you a good overview of the road ahead so you never have to peer over the steering wheel to get a better look at something right in front of you.
That said, you get some fairly thick rear pillars that limit over-the-shoulder visibility so reversing into a parking spot is tricky if you don’t use any assists. But the DS has you covered there, because there are several levels of parking assistance offered – all round parking sensors, reversing camera with guidelines, a 360-degree birds-eye parking camera or even a self-parking system that takes over steering, accelerating and braking once it finds a suitable space.
Once out of the parking spot and on tight streets you’ll appreciate the direct steering you get in the DS 3 Crossback – it makes the car feel lively and ready to dart into traffic openings. The DS 3 Crossback comes fitted with some fairly large wheels but despite that it rides well over poor roads and the thickly padded seats make sure you barely feel any pothole inside.
Out of the city and onto the motorway, the DS 3 Crossback settles into a relaxing cruise so well you’d think it’s some executive saloon rather than a trendy small SUV. The DS 3 Crossback has a special acoustic windshield which limits wind noise and the result is a very quiet cabin at motorway speeds making progress quite relaxing.
As if that wasn’t enough you can opt for a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist that, were it not for you keeping your hands on the steering wheel, it would drive, steer and stop the DS 3 Crossback all on its own.
Take it off the motorway and onto a twisty back road and the DS 3 Crossback starts leaning a tad too much and, while still fairly enjoyable, a SEAT Arona or VW T-Cross is more fun to drive over the same stretch of road. In short, twisty roads and sporty driving isn’t the DS 3 Crossbacks’ forte – much better to just relax, take it easy and enjoy the scenery.