DS DS 3 CROSSBACK review
The DS 3 Crossback turn heads and has an interior that’ll impress. However, plenty of alternatives are more intuitive to use, bigger inside and come with larger boots
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The DS 3 Crossback is the ideal small SUV if you want your small, stylish family car to stand out. It doesn’t have the badge kudos of a VW T-Roc, but it’ll leave this German alternative eating its avant-garde dust in the style stakes.
Just take a look at that front end. OK, besides those strange vertical daytime running lights that look a little like a stream of tears, the DS 3 Crossback looks like a concept car that’s taken a wrong turn on its way to a motor show.
The funky details don’t stop there; step inside and you’ll find the DS 3 Crossback is packed with soft materials, sculptural buttons and loads of diamond-shaped details that look like they belong in a ritzy cocktail bar.
Sadly, not all these eye-catching features are easy to use. The infotainment system with its oddly placed shortcut buttons takes a lot more getting used to than the screens in a VW T-Roc or Skoda Karoq, for example.
So, while programming the DS 3 Crossback’s sat nav or tuning the stereo might take a bit of getting used to, at least the seats come with plenty of adjustment to help you get comfy. Unfortunately, the news isn’t quite so good in the back. Sure, three kids will have room to stretch out, but there isn’t much space for six-footers to stretch out.
Things don’t get much better when you load the DS 3 Crossback’s boot with luggage. There’s less room than you get in many more affordable SUVs and the boot lacks any kind of clever storage features like those you get in a Skoda Karoq.
The DS 3 Crossback looks far cooler than the current crop of small SUVs, but it's nowhere near as practical as some less funky alternatives
Still, at least whatever you manage to pack into the boot won’t get jiggled about when you’re driving thanks to the DS 3 Crossback’s comfortable suspension. It soaks up potholes very well in town, where you’ll find the DS’s light steering, relatively small size and perky petrol engines help make it a doddle to drive.
It’s even more relaxing to drive on motorways where the DS 3 Crossback’s comfort-focused suspension and special sound-deadening windscreen help muffle any unpleasant wind and tyre noise. It’s even quite economical – if you pick a diesel model, that is.
Turn onto a twisty country road and you’ll find the DS 3 Crossback’s soft suspension and light steering means isn’t anywhere near as agile as a Mazda CX-3 or SEAT Arona. That being said, if you prefer your SUVs relaxing, rather than involving to drive – and you don’t tend to carry too many passengers or a lot of luggage – the DS 3 Crossback is worth considering.
Head over to our DS 3 Crossback deals page to see how much you can save or read on for our in-depth interior, practicality and driving review sections.
The DS 3 Crossback looks like a quite a large practical SUV on the outside, but climb inside and you’ll notice space in the back isn’t exactly generous
The DS 3 Crossback comes with height-adjustable front seats as standard and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach to make it easy to find your perfect driving position. It’s even easier to get comfy if you pay extra for the optional electric seat adjustment.
Unfortunately, only top-spec La Premiere models come with electrically adjustable lumbar support (to help prevent backache on long drives) as standard. These top-spec cars also get heated seats and a massage function as standard.
While the DS 3 Crossback’s front seats are comfortable and roomy enough for tall adults, those in the back are rather more cramped. The rear doors don’t open all that far and there’s barely enough space for a six-foot passenger’s knees if they find themselves behind an equally tall driver.
At least there’s space for their feet under the seat in front and just about enough headroom to keep their ‘do in check, but add a third adult in the middle seat and outer passengers will find their heads pushed up against the DS 3 Crossback’s sloping roofline.
Three kids will have enough space to stretch out, but carrying very young passengers is made more difficult by the DS 3 Crossback’s hidden Isofix covers and narrow rear door openings. At least its raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down a great deal to strap in a child.
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.
The front door bins can hold a 500ml water bottle – but not much else – and the rear door bins that are even smaller than that. There isn’t even a folding rear armrest or any cupholders for passengers in the back.
The bad news continues when you come to load the DS 3 Crossback’s boot. At 350 litres in capacity, it’s almost 30% smaller than the load bay you get in a VW T-Roc.
You don’t get anywhere near the number of clever shopping hooks and tether points as you do in a Skoda Karoq either, and there’s a tall load lip that makes it rather tricky to lift in very heavy boxes. You can’t adjust the height of the boot floor either, but at least the DS 3 Crossback’s wide boot opening makes it relatively easy to lift in oddly shaped items.
If you need to carry lots of large luggage, you can flip the DS 3 Crossback’s rear seats down in a two-way (60:40) split to up its bootspace to 1,050 litres. That’s still less than in the likes of the VW T-Roc and Skoda Karoq when you fold their seats down, but you’ll still be able to carry a bike without removing its wheels.
There is a tall step behind the back seats that makes it rather difficult to slide a bike into place, however, and the back seats don’t sit completely flat which means you can’t easily push heavy items all the way to the front.
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 1.2-litre 100hp PureTech petrol – it’s fine for pottering around town, but motorway driving or climbing tall hills make the entry-level engine work really hard and fuel economy plummets as a result.
Your best bet is the mid-range petrol, the 1.2-litre 130hp PureTech – it adds that bit of extra performance you need when overtaking but it’s still relatively cheap to run. 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 do lots of long motorway journeys, you can have the DS 3 Crossback with a 100hp BlueHDi 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’s more expensive than the petrol models, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting close to DS’ claimed 52mpg economy figure.
All engines come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox that’s easy to use. To help take the stress out of inner-city driving, however, you’ll want to consider the optional eight-speed automatic that can be fitted to the 130 and 155hp petrol engines. It can hesitate when you need it to change down and has the tendency to lurch during hill starts, but it shuffles through the gears nice and smoothly most of the time.
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.
Unlike a conventional family hatchback, the DS 3 Crossback comes with a raised driving position that lets you see out over traffic. The pillars beside the windscreen are quite wide and the rear windows are rather slim which can make parking a touch tricky, however.
Thankfully, you can get the DS 3 Crossback with all-round parking sensors, a reversing camera, a 360-degree birds-eye parking camera and even a self-parking system that takes over the steering and pedals once it finds a suitable space.
Once you’ve left the car park, you’ll find the DS 3 Crossback’s light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre through tight streest and its soft suspension helps it deal with large bumps and potholes very well.
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 posh 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.
You can also pay extra to get a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist that, were it not for you keeping your hands on the steering wheel, could drive, steer and stop the DS 3 Crossback all on its own.
Take it off the motorway and onto a twisty back road and you’ll notice the DS 3 Crossback’s comfort-focused suspension lets its tall body lean quite a lot in tight corners. It doesn’t feel unstable at any point, but it can make passengers feel a little uneasy after a few miles on windy country roads. If you’re looking for a sporty small SUV, you’ll be much better off with the likes of a SEAT Arona or Mazda CX-3.
The DS 3 Crossback’s interior looks absolutely fantastic, but the pay-off for those eye-catching design features is that nothing’s particularly intuitive to use
DS DS 3 CROSSBACK colours
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