DS 3 E-Tense Review & Prices

The DS 3 E-Tense is a sharp-looking small EV with a decent range and front space, but the rear seats are cramped and it’s not the most refined to drive

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RRP £37,465 - £42,235 Avg. Carwow saving £2,238 off RRP
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Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Stand-out looks
  • Nice to drive in town
  • Good space in the front seats…

What's not so good

  • …but the rear seats and boot are small
  • High-speed refinement isn’t great
  • Some poor cabin materials

Find out more about the DS 3 E-Tense

Is the DS 3 E-Tense a good car?

The DS 3 E-Tense is an all-electric compact SUV that has chic looks that makes you feel like you’re driving around the Arc de Triomphe.

With the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV and Mazda MX-30 similarly sized, the DS 3 E-Tense has some alternatives that are either well established or from brands with a better reputation for build quality.

The look of the E-Tense is the same as the standard DS 3 with its square and diamond-inspired design, but with some electric-focused upgrades, such as a smoothed-off grille and alloy wheels as well as door handles that pop out when you need them. It looks rather cool on the whole, with some classic French chic detailing.

Inside it’s much the same sort of feel. The diamond theme is obvious with the touch-sensitive buttons on the centre console, while most of the major touch points are finished in nicer materials. There are some scratchy plastics and more brittle pieces of trim to be found though.

The driver’s display and infotainment are clear enough, but they run quite slowly at times and systems in the Kia and Mazda work much better.

Rear space is also an issue. You don’t get a lot of room at all, with knee and headroom limited. It’s also quite dark in the back, with a strange window design not allowing much light in.

Storage is also a negative point for the DS 3, as the 350-litre boot isn’t anywhere near as good as the Kia Niro EV or Hyundai Kona Electric. There’s also a fairly large lump in the floor when you fold the seats down.

It costs quite a lot more than the petrol-powered DS 3, but the E-Tense in Performance Line+ trim will make a great zero-emission urban run-around

You only get one battery and motor choice for the E-Tense. The 50.8kWh battery pack is paired to a 155hp motor on the front axle, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 9.0 seconds and a range of up to 270 miles.

Where the DS 3 E-Tense majors is in town. The steering is light to make manoeuvring very simple while the visibility is okay. Having the electric motor makes getting away from junctions simple and with no engine thrumming away, it’s pretty peaceful in the cabin.

On the motorway, the E-Tense can feel unsettled over bumps and ruts in the road, while you can hear a lot of wind and tyre noise. The electric motor is responsive enough for overtakes, while the standard-fit adaptive cruise control does take the strain out of longer drives.

Take the E-Tense on a back road and you’ll find it isn’t the most fun. Sure the electric motor gets you out of corners with a decent punch, but the lighter steering and comfort-focused suspension don’t help with overall driving enjoyment.

Even though the DS 3 E-Tense is very good in town, it struggles to match up against the Kia Niro EV and the Mazda MX-30 for refinement at higher speeds, while they both feel much better to be in on the whole.

Get the latest leasing deals on new DS 3 E-Tense models, while you can also check out used DS 3 E-Tense cars on carwow as well. There are also deals on other used DS vehicles you can look into, and if you want to change your car altogether, you can sell your car through carwow with our trusted dealers helping get you the best price.

How much is the DS 3 E-Tense?

The DS 3 E-Tense has a RRP range of £37,465 to £42,235. However, with Carwow you can save on average £2,238. Prices start at £35,053 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £592. The price of a used DS 3 E-Tense on Carwow starts at £20,838.

Our most popular versions of the DS 3 E-Tense are:

Model version Carwow price from
115kW E-TENSE Performance Line 54kWh 5dr Auto £35,053 Compare offers

The DS 3 E-Tense isn’t a particularly cheap car considering its size, but it’s fairly competitive compared to the alternatives, like the Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Where the options from the Korean manufacturers have a distinct advantage is in their electric range, interior storage space and quality of the cabin finish. Neither look quite as chic as the DS 3 E-Tense though.

Performance and drive comfort

The DS 3 E-Tense is a whizz in town with a small turning circle and punchy electric motor, but take it out of the city and it isn’t as composed

In town

If you’re not one to drive out of town too much and like to have a slightly raised driving position, the DS 3 E-Tense is a good option.

You get light steering with the E-Tense, which makes manoeuvres and getting around tight streets or car parks very simple. The turning circle of 10.7 metres is a real bonus if you’re spending a lot of time in town.

Visibility out of the front and side is good, especially if you have your seat jacked up a little. The view through the rear window is a bit narrow, but the optional blind spot monitoring and reversing camera make up for that if you choose to fit them.

Having the electric motor giving you instant power means you can get away from junctions swiftly. Using the ‘B’ mode does give you harsher regenerative braking to recoup some power, but you’ll still need to use the brakes to come to a halt as there’s no one-pedal driving option.

DS sets up its cars to be comfortable and the DS 3 E-Tense is no different. Bumps and ruts don’t feel too intrusive and you can scoot around in comfort and near-silence.

On the motorway

While the silence of an electric motor is useful in town, it can be less of a blessing on the motorway. You’ll find that there’s a lot of tyre and wind noise to contend with, as the E-Tense doesn’t have the best sound-proofing around. A Kia Niro EV feels more refined on the whole.

The comfortable suspension in town doesn’t feel quite as assured on faster roads, as bumps can feel sharper at times, unsettling the car a fair amount.

Having the electric motor does help with getting up to speed quickly enough and the instant torque means overtaking is simple. Doing lots of sharp acceleration at speed will drain the battery though, and the E-Tense isn’t the most efficient at higher speeds – like most EVs. You can use the ‘Eco’ driving mode to squeeze as much juice out of the battery as possible, but it does limit the climate control functions if you use it.

On a twisty road

With the batteries adding over 300kg compared to the petrol-powered DS 3, you won’t find the E-Tense leans as much when you go round a corner in a spirited manner. That being said, the light steering doesn’t offer the best feeling of grip from the front tyres.

The soft suspension also struggles a bit here, as rougher surfaces can unsettle the chassis a fair amount.

The front-mounted electric motor does give you plenty of kick out of the corners, pushing you back into your seat when you’re going out of a slower corner.

But if you’re after a sporty compact SUV, the DS 3 E-Tense doesn’t compare to something like a Brabus Smart #1 for driver enjoyment.

Space and practicality

The DS3 is spacious for those in the front and has good storage, but rear seat passengers will find it rather cramped

While being at the smaller end of the SUV scale, the DS 3 E-Tense does well for space in the front of the cabin. You can get comfortable behind the wheel with decent amounts of adjustment in the seat and steering column. The position is slightly higher than in the petrol-powered version because of the batteries under the floor though.

You do get door bins large enough for medium-sized water bottles, two central cupholders and a place under the centre console for your phone to be plugged in or charged wirelessly.

The space underneath the armrest is okay – not the deepest or widest but good enough – but the glovebox is half the size it should be, as DS hasn’t moved the fuse box to the same side as the steering wheel as it would be on a left-hand drive model.

Space in the back seats

If you’ll regularly be ferrying people around, a Kia Niro EV will serve you much better than the E-Tense. While the door opening is large enough for most, the area for you to sit is not. If you’re anything more than of average height, you’ll struggle for knee room, while headroom is limited for most as well.

It’s also quite dark in the back, as the window has quite a strange angular design and is mounted at a higher level. It feels a bit like you’re inside a postbox.

Storage isn’t the best either, as the door bins are fairly small and the pockets on the back of the front seats are merely adequate.

Boot space

In isolation, the 350-litre boot is more than suitable if you’re not normally one to carry a lot of things around with you. There’s a bit of a lip to lift heavier things over, and if you fold the seats down to make a 1,050-litre space, you’ll find a hefty lump between the floor and the seat backs – so sliding things forward is difficult to say the least.

But when you take alternatives into account, the DS 3 E-Tense feels out of its depth. The Kia Niro Electric has 475 litres, while the latest Hyundai Kona Electric has 466 litres. The E-Tense’s boot is better than the Mazda MX-30’s 341-litre space though.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The chic look from the exterior design continues into the cabin, which makes it feel premium, but there are materials that don’t match that billing

If you’re after a car that majors in style over substance, the DS 3 E-Tense might be one for you to consider. The stylish looks from the outside are carried inside, with lots of diamonds used to make up the touch-sensitive buttons in the centre console, air vents and switches for the electric windows.

It doesn’t quite feel as premium as you might expect though. Yes, there are surfaces with leather – on the steering wheel and dashboard – or Alcantara if you choose one of the Performance Line models, but there are lots of plastics that feel brittle, making the starting price of the E-Tense feel quite expensive.

The two screens are bright and clear, although the software isn’t the smoothest. The 10.3-inch touchscreen isn’t the most responsive and there are some menus that aren’t the clearest, but if you run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on it – both of which can be connected wirelessly – the screen works well enough for most tasks.

The 7.0-inch driver’s display is okay, but with the adjustment for it on the end of the indicator and windscreen wiper stalks, it could be easier to use.

Unlike the petrol-powered version, you can’t add the £900 upgraded stereo system. But if you choose to add DS’s voice recognition and head-up display setup – the latter helping you keep your eyes on the road ahead – they can be useful.

Electric range, charging and tax

With only one engine and battery option, you get the DS 3 E-Tense with 50.8kWh of usable battery capacity paired to a 155hp electric motor that also makes 260Nm of torque. That means you can go from 0-60mph in 9.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 93mph.

On a full charge, you can go up to 270 miles. That’s more likely if you stick to urban driving most of the time and don’t need to get up to higher speeds too often. In our tests across all conditions, the E-Tense returned an average of 3.6mi/kWh, which would give you 182 miles on a charge – which isn’t anywhere near as impressive.

You can fast-charge the E-Tense at up to 100kW, which would allow a charge from 10-80% in just 30 minutes. Using a 7.4kW wallbox lets you go from 0-100% in seven and a half hours – so you can plug it in overnight and have a full charge by the morning.

Being an EV, you currently don’t have to pay vehicle excise duty for the E-Tense. That also means great rates if you’re looking to get this as a company car, with electric vehicles having a low Benefit in Kind (BiK).

Safety and security

When it was safety tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 as the DS 3 Crossback, it scored four stars without the optional safety pack, and five stars when it was fitted. That pack adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, a reversing camera and 360-degree view, front parking sensors, advanced emergency braking setup and high beam assist – a £1,450 premium on all but the Opera model.

If you choose to add that pack, it will join standard kit such as lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, emergency braking (up to 52mph) and speed recognition, while the standard cruise control has no distance control like the optional version.

You also get airbags front and rear, a security alarm and ISOFIX anchor points for child seats on the outer two rear chairs.

Reliability and problems

Since its debut on the market in 2018, the DS 3 E-Tense hasn’t had any recalls to be worried about.

You get a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, and that will only be on a second-hand car if it’s less than two years old. The battery pack gets an eight-year warranty.

Buy or lease the DS 3 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
RRP £37,465 - £42,235 Avg. Carwow saving £2,238 off RRP
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