It also means that it’s just 8cm longer and 6cm higher than a Ford Fiesta, yet because it’s a premium SUV the adverts look the same as the ones for perfume and it can cost as much as £35,000, even though it’s only got a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine. Look, don’t ask me, I don’t make this stuff up.
Anyway, prices start at £21,550 for the 99bhp petrol you won’t buy because every month it’ll cost no less than the 129bhp petrol automatic we’ve tested, which starts at £24,550 (though you can add a couple of grand for the model in the pictures, which has some options on it).
The Crossback sits on PSA group’s new CMP platform, which I believe it’s obligatory to mention will also underpin the new Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. The neat thing about CMP is that it’s primed for use with both internal combustion engines, of which the DS 3 has four options in the UK - 99bhp, 129bhp and 153bhp 1.2 petrols and a 99bhp 1.5 diesel – and as a pure battery electric vehicle, which will arrive at the end of this year.
To my ears that suggests there’s inevitably some compromise in the platform, because with an EV, surely it’s nice to be inventive with where you put the mechanicals to maximise interior space.
But PSA’s logic is that, because both ICE cars and EVs roll down the same production line, it can be flexible about the proportions of each it builds, as the market demands. It’s a rather more pragmatic approach than nailing everything on a new EV platform, and not entirely un-sensible. Powertrain is a choice, then, not a philosophy.
Exploring the DS 3 Crossback's unique styling
You can make your own mind up about how the DS 3 Crossback looks. You’ll notice it has hidey pop-out door handles but there's nothing unusual about the ‘invisible’ window trims even though they’ll tell you about them. But inside there’s no denying the Crossback’s novelty.
Diamonds are DS’s ‘thing’, the little design icon by which you’ll know the brand. And boy, will you know it – the digital instrument pack, the air vents, the dashboard switches and more all bear the shape, whether it’s ergonomically sensible or not. Often not.
Think fashionable French handbags, though, quilted leather, or perhaps the outside of the Louvre, and you get an idea of where DS is coming from. No bad thing to have a theme, I suppose. And when most of the materials are as nice as the dashboard and door tops – always soft, says DS – no bad thing at all. Apparently you get used to where the switches are, say DS’s engineers, with what I wondered was a hint of resignation. But it’s interesting to look at and feel, that’s the main thing.
The driving position is fine and there’s plenty of room in the front, on some new chair foams they banged on about, which seemed an improvement on the PSA norm, but which I’d want to spend more time sitting on before saying so for sure.
The B-pillar was into my over-shoulder vision and things are more cramped in the rear, where the window line – higher at the front than the back – is odd and quite high, so if you’ve got claustrophobic kids, make sure they won’t vom. The boot, whether on fossil or EV power, is 350 litres; 50 and 100 litres less, respectively, than an Audi Q2 or Mini Countryman’s. Maybe all of these things are ingrained CMP compromises, maybe not. I suppose we’ll see.
How does the DS 3 Crossback perform on the road?
If you’re buying a B-segment SUV let’s not pretend you care all that much, but actually the Crossback is not bad. DS wants comfort but not Citroen-style floaty comfort. It wants response but not Peugeot-style tiny steering wheel response. And unlike Audi, which has a fascination with big wheels and sportiness, and Mini, which wants to make everything feel karty whether it should or not, DS has let the Crossback be its own thing. It steers moderately well, road noise is quiet and the nice thing is that, on 18in wheels, the largest available, the tyres still have 55 profile sidewalls, so the ride’s relatively pliant.