The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is a seriously stylish electric car with comfy suspension and a stunning interior but it’s let down by cramped back seats and limited electric range

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Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Fabulous interior
  • Very comfortable
  • Plenty of personalisation options

What's not so good

  • Cramped back seats
  • Alternatives are cheaper...
  • ... and have better ranges

Find out more about the DS DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE

Is the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense a good car?

The electric DS 3 Crossback E-Tense takes an unusually fashion-focused approach to saving the world – like an Extinction Rebellion protester rocking up to the gates of Westminster decked-out in Louis Vuitton’s finest. 

For starters, all those intricate details around the headlights and grille mean you’d never mistake it for a Kia e-Niro or a Hyundai Kona Electric, and its heavily creased sides look like someone in DS’ design department crumpled up a drawing of the old DS 3 and really liked what they saw. 

The oddball design details don’t peter out when you step inside, either. You get loads of plush fabrics, metal switches and a rank of diamond-shaped touch-sensitive tiles on the dashboard that look like something you’d use to order a gin and tonic in a self-service cocktail bar. 

Unfortunately, you might feel like you’ve had a few G&Ts when you try to operate the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s rather confusing infotainment system. Sure, the animated menus look great, but they slow down the whole process of programming the sat-nav or changing the cabin temperature. 

If you’re looking for a small SUV that’s cheap to run yet stands out like a Piranha in a dentist’s waiting-room fish tank, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is well worth considering

It takes a little while to find your ideal seating position, too, because – unlike in the standard DS 3 Crossback – you can’t get the E-Tense model with electrically adjustable seats. Things don’t improve in the back seats, either – tall adults will struggle for headroom and the cabin isn’t wide enough to carry three adult passengers side-by-side. 

At least there’s a decent amount of space in the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s boot, though. This is partly thanks to DS hiding all the car’s Duracell bunnies under the floor rather than behind the back seats. That said, a Kia e-Niro is much roomier and easier to load. 

The Kia e-Niro also boasts a greater range than the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, but you’ll still be able to eke out a fair 200 miles between charges. On the subject of charging, brimming the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense using a dedicated wall box can take as little as five hours, while 100kW public fast charger can boost your charge from 0-80% in half an hour. 

That’s pretty much on par with many other electric cars, but the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense has the edge over many competitors in the comfort stakes. It irons out bumps around town very well and the light controls make manoeuvring a doddle. 

It’s impressively quiet once you head out of town too, thanks to some extra sound-proofing that you don’t get in the standard DS 3 Crossback. A side-effect of this comfort-oriented setup – and the extra weight of its batteries – means the E-Tense feels a little out of its depth on twisty country roads. 

You shouldn’t let this put you off the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, however. If you’re looking for a city-focused SUV that’s cheap to run, comfortable and seriously eye-catching, it’s well worth considering. 

Head over to our DS 3 Crossback E-Tense deals and used DS pages to see how much you can save, and do also see how you can sell your current car through carwow.

How much is the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense?

Monthly payments start at £325. The price of a used DS DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE on Carwow starts at £12,557.

Performance and drive comfort

The electric DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is even easier to drive than the standard Crossback, but its heavy batteries mean it isn’t quite so good on bumpy roads or in fast corners

Every DS 3 Crossback E-Tense comes with a 136hp electric motor and a 50kWh battery pack. This combination has enough electrical juice for around 200 miles of driving between charges. 

Speaking of charging, brimming the E-Tense’s batteries will take between five and seven-and-a-half hours using a wall-mounted charging box – depending on whether you use a fast three-phase 11kW unit or a slower single-phase 7.4kW model. Plug it into a 100kW public fast-charger, however, and you can boost the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s batteries from empty to 80% in just half an hour. 

The E-Tense’s standard 136hp electric motor has enough poke to accelerate this compact SUV from 0-69mph in less than nine seconds, so you’ll have no trouble nipping out of side roads or keeping up with fast-moving traffic.

To help boost the E-Tense’s range, there’s a special ‘B’ driving mode. This increases the effect of the motor’s regenerative braking – where it works as a generator, slowing the car without you having to use the conventional brakes as often.

Unlike some electric cars, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense has a raised seating position to help give you a good view out over traffic. Sadly, these efforts are undone by the wide pillars beside the front and rear windscreens that produce large blindspots at junctions and when you’re parking. 

You can get it with all-round parking sensors to help reduce the risk of low-speed bumps and scrapes, however, and there’s also the option of a surround-view camera system and a self-parking system that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel spaces. 

Put the E-Tense in the ‘Eco’ driving mode, and the steering becomes almost freakishly light. This is ideal for squeezing in and out of parking spaces, but it feels slightly disconcerting at motorway speed. You’ll be better off using the ‘Normal’ driving mode most of the time, which also ups the electric motor’s power from 82hp to 109hp. 

Sure, push the accelerator all the way down, and the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense will deploy all 136hp – no matter which driving mode you in. Like most electric cars, it accelerates rapidly from 0-30mph, but this impressive surge starts to fade once you hit dual-carriageway speeds.

That said, it still has enough poke to breeze past slow-moving traffic and the electric motor’s instant power delivery means you get up to speed quickly after zipping out of a side-road. 

Unlike in some petrol- and diesel-powered cars, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s selectable driving modes don’t alter how stiff its suspension is. As a result, it does a very good job ironing out most bumps – even in its sportiest setting. 

However, because the E-Tense model weighs in at 300kg more than the standard DS 3 Crossback, it feels a touch less settled over rough, uneven roads and starts to edge towards the edge of the road more keenly if you accelerate hard mid-way through a tight corner. It leans more than many small SUVs too, so passengers may feel a little queasy after a few miles on very twisty roads. 

What the DS 3 Crossback loses out in the agility stakes, it more than makes up for on motorways. It comes with more sound-proofing than the standard Crossback, so you’ll hear very little tyre noise at speed and its near-silent electric motor doesn’t produce any of the vibrations you’d associate with a petrol or diesel engine. 

This lack of background engine noise means you’ll notice wind noise whipped up by the E-Tense’s door mirrors more than in the standard DS 3 Crossback, but it’s still very relaxing to travel in. It’s especially stress-free to drive if you pay extra for some of the optional driver assistance systems that accelerate, brake and steer for you to keep you within your lane on the motorway.

Space and practicality

The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s batteries are neatly tucked away under the floor so they don’t encroach into passenger or boot space. Despite this, it isn’t particularly roomy inside

You get height-adjustable front seats as standard in the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense and the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach so you’ll have no trouble getting a good view of the digital driver’s display. 

Unfortunately, you can’t get E-Tense models with electrically adjustable seats and electric lumbar adjustment like you can in the standard DS 3 Crossback, which is a shame. At least there’s a decent amount of manual adjustment to help drivers of all sizes get comfortable, though.

Sadly, you can’t say the same of the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s rear seats. The back doors don’t open particularly wide and anyone approaching six-feet tall will find their head brushes against the ceiling and – if they’re sitting behind an equally tall driver – their knees touch the seat in front. 

Things get even worse if you try to carry three adults in the back at once. The central seat is harder than the outer two and raised, so headroom takes a sizeable hit. The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s sloping sides mean outer passengers have to bend their necks awkwardly to avoid hitting their heads on the roof. 

Performance Line models with a dark roof lining feel especially cramped in the back, and all DS 3 Crossback E-Tense models come with an awkwardly kinked rear window sill that limits visibility for kids and smaller adults making them feel even more claustrophobic. As if to add insult to injury, the rear windows don’t even come close to winding all the way down…

Things don’t improve if you need to carry very young passengers because the Isofix anchor points for securing a child seat are hidden behind the seat fabric. It’s not all bad news, however – the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s raised ride height means you don’t need to stoop down to strap in a child.

The DS 3 Crosback E-Tense’s interior might be one of the most stylish of any electric car on sale, but it’s far from being the most practical – especially in the back. The rear door bins are very slim and you don’t get a folding rear armrest or any cupholders. 

Things are slightly better in the front seats, where you get some roomier door bins, a storage area under the front armrest, two cupholders and a tray for your phone that can be had with a wireless charging pad.

The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s 350-litre capacity is the same as the standard DS 3 Crossback, but someway behind the 451-litre load bay you get in a Kia e-Niro.

You don’t get many tether points either, and there aren’t any shopping hooks to stop your groceries rolling around as you drive along. The tall boot lip makes it tricky to lift in heavy luggage and you can’t adjust the height of the boot floor like you can in many petrol- and diesel-powered SUVs. 

You can fold the back seats down in a two-way (60:40) split to boost the E-Tense’s boot capacity to 1,050 litres, but there’s a significant step behind the rear seats that makes it difficult to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.

At least the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s wide boot opening means there’s a decent amount of space to lift in bulky items.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense has one of the most eye-catching interiors of any electric car, but all its intricate details make some features a bit tricky to use 

The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s cabin looks unlike anything else you’ll find in any mainstream electric car. Sure, the raised driving position and wide dashboard – like you’ll find in a Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona Electric – follows a familiar compact SUV theme, but it’s the numerous intricate details that make the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s interior so eye-catching. 

Rather than conventional rows of square buttons, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense comes with a fence-like pattern of interlocking diamond switches set above some equally angular air vents.

Sadly, this form-over-function thinking means that some of the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s controls aren’t located where you might expect to find them. The door handles are mounted way down by the door pockets and the window switches are fitted to the centre console rather than on the doors. There’s nothing particularly awkward about these features, but they certainly take a bit of getting used to.  

DS hasn’t played it safe when it comes to interior trim, either. You can choose from nine different colour schemes ranging from moody black designs to airy (but difficult to clean) white trims. There’s also the option of bronze-effect leatherette, but this oddball combination makes parts of the cabin look like they could do with a wipe down.

Whichever of these ‘Inspiration’ packs you choose, you’ll get the option to customise the seat fabric, the dashboard trim and the colour of the headlining. The most luxurious ‘Opera’ option brings with it ‘watchstrap’ seats that are immensely comfortable and look fabulous, but they’re only available on top-spec La Premiere models. 

Sadly, even range-topping cars fitted with the most opulent addons still feel a little cheap in places. The glovebox lid, parts of the centre console and surfaces lower down on the doors all have a hard, brittle plastic finish that feels at odds with the rest of the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s swanky cabin. That said, at least they feel like they’ll stand up to a good few years of abuse.

Entry-level DS 3 Crossback E-Tense Performance Line models come as standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s mounted nice and high on the dashboard so it’s easy to glance at while you’re driving. The screen itself is sharp and reasonably bright so you can read it in direct sunlight. 

You do get some touch-sensitive tiles on the dashboard that let you switch between key features such as the sat-nav and stereo, but they don’t click when you press them so they’re a real pain to use when you’re concentrating on the road ahead. 

Unfortunately, none of these buttons controls the car’s climate control. Instead, you have to tweak the temperature through the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s touchscreen, which is less intuitive and takes longer than using conventional buttons like those in the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric. 

Pick a DS 3 Crossback E-Tense in Prestige guise or above and you get a larger 10-inch touchscreen with built-in satellite navigation. This screen is a little easier to read than the smaller 7.0-inch unit, but the sat-nav maps aren’t very responsive and take a while to load – especially if you want to zoom out to view your whole journey. You’ll be much better off using the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring features that come as standard across the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense range. 

Another feature you get as standard is the 7-inch digital driver’s display. This screen, which replaces conventional analogue dials, can display a variety of different dial graphics and directions for the sat-nav, but its dark, angular design means the dials aren’t all that easy to read.

Another thorn in the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s already rather bruised side is the fact that you can’t get it with an upgraded Focal stereo system like the standard DS 3 Crossback.

Buy or lease the DS DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
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