DS3 Crossback: Your daily dose of “Parisian Chic”

The DS3 Crossback is the French Crossover that brings style and charisma to the world of small SUVs

27w ago

Size, capacity, comfort, road visibility, some off-road capabilities, a sense of safety and a family-oriented approach is what keeps the SUV’s popularity rates high. With such a successful recipe, many SUV variations ensued over the last decade but when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Or have you, really?

DS Automobiles, which became its own standalone brand in 2014, is currently offering two SUV models in its lineup - the DS3 and the DS7 - and that is it (DS9 luxury sedan being delayed due to COVID-19). Selling what sells is one way to do things but how do you truly stand out and offer something different when SUV-style vehicles are becoming every automaker’s easy breadmaker?

Being PSA Group’s premium brand, DS Automobiles’ strength lies in its positioning. Though not new, going cross-border and teaming up with the fashion world is a strategy that works. As the official partner of Paris Fashion Week for over a year now, DS cars have been accompanying fashion editors, influencers, photographers from one fashion show to the other. Leaving behind its sporty 2010 looks behind, the DS3 Crossback has taken on an approach to assimilate what French people know best: fashion and luxury.

The DS3 Crossback possesses a particular sense of style

that makes heads turn your way when driving around town. Though we cannot speak for Europe, this DS3 is not yet a common sight in Tokyo and even less in the rest of Japan. Comparable to an Audi Q2 or a Mini Countryman in terms of sizing, this compact SUV takes a different approach to its competition by adding stylistic elements wherever possible.

What first steals our attention are the headlights with their wavy lines that look as if the bonnet was stretched onto the headlights. To emphasize originality, these headlights turn on bright pink as you unlock the car at night or in a dark place. You either love it or hate it - in our case we loved it - but it seems there are no options available to change the colour.

As a perfect match for this pink light, this DS3 Crossback was painted metallic purple with a shade called Whisper. A Rolls-Royce sounding name which instantly gives the DS3 a chic connotation. As a purple car, its true colour is revealed on cloudy days. On sunny days, the purple metallic flakes show off their burgundy red nuances while the body panels reflect the colour of the sky. The front grille is adorned with small chrome triangles which also reflect the light and colour of the sky too.

To emphasize the refined style of this car, door handles sit flush and come out as the car automatically unlocks when sensing the key. One of the most intriguing details about the DS3 is probably the B-pillar’s shark fin-like shape, which can be oddly surprising at first. This design aspect is in fact inherited from Citroën’s 2010 3-door hatchback DS3, when DS was still part of Citroën.

The whole look is completed with sleek and impactful tail lights as well as concept car looking rims named “Sao Paulo.” As the famous French designer Christian Dior once said, “you can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes” and that did not go unheard for DS Automobiles.

When it comes to style,

the interior has been just as well thought of as the exterior, if not more. Designers at DS Automobiles have pushed the geometric DS logo theme to extremes and chic angular shapes can be found here and there all around the cabin. Touch sensitive diamond-shaped buttons are placed underneath the infotainment touch screen which are pretty convenient to use but you will notice that these buttons are not centered and placed slightly towards the left side of the screen. Unimportant, really, but enough to trigger perfectionists.

The infotainment system features Apple CarPlay and you can even wirelessly charge your phone in the tray beneath it. Everything from heating to navigation can be controlled from the screen, including the air conditioning, which makes this whole package feel modern and high-tech. However, as you try to change the temperature while focusing on the road, you will find it extremely difficult to do both at the same time and ultimately, you will have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you aren’t pressing the wrong buttons on the screen. Style matters until it replaces safety.

All seats, front and back are comfortable and spacious enough. With the luxurious Opéra theme option, the black Nappa leather comes in two patterns, one is matte and the other with a metallic finish. The dotted stitching, which is reminiscent of metal studs on leather, is present all over the interior. As the driver, you will be able to adjust your seat electronically and you will even be able to rely on the light massage option which comes in as standard. Unfortunately, the front passenger won’t be able to benefit from the same options as the seat has to be moved and reclined manually and isn’t equipped with massage either. This car did have the heating option integrated for both front seats, which did make the ride very cozy.

Backseat passengers will also feel a little let down in small details around them. With rear door pockets being too small, there is nowhere to store that water bottle you just bought from the store. The fin-like design on the B-pillar that looked stylish from the outside acts as a blind spot for the driver and obstructs rear passengers’ outside view.

However, one thing that can be enjoyed by all is the DS3 Crossback’s 12-speaker Focal Electra sound system, with sophisticated diamond-shaped speakers. Having a good sound system and being able to enjoy it thanks to the well insulated environment is a praise-worthy aspect of this car. As a nice surprise, the interior filters the sound and allows you to listen to the well tuned exhaust notes. As an even better surprise, the DS3 Crossback possesses the most relaxing turn signal sounds we have ever heard. Almost identical to the sound of a bamboo xylophone, every corner feels like a mental escape to a tropical beach.

The DS3 isn’t here to set any records.

Instead, it is here to mind its own business and take you from one place to another in style, like no other car would do. The smooth and relaxing ride is powered by a 1.2L 3-cylinder engine producing 128 hp, allowing you to pick up speed on the highway without any trouble. This engine is combined with an altogether light body (1,280 kg; 2,820 lbs), a steering that is just as light and soft as the suspensions, allowing you to change lanes with agility when driving in the city. Though the range displayed on the dashboard is rather difficult to trust, the DS3’s small 44L tank is bank account friendly.

As the DS3 shares parts and technologies with other PSA cars, you will be able to immediately adjust to the gear knob and the smaller-than-average steering; both a pleasure to use. The DS3 also boasts a fair amount of technologies and driving aids such as lane keeping, active blind spot monitoring and matrix LED headlights. As part of the SUV family, the DS3 comes with several driving modes including sand, mud and snow, just in case.

There is lots to love about the DS3 because it possesses a sense of “charisma"

that other automotive makers sometimes lack. Guaranteed 100% made in France, this crossover is fit, elegant and will make you stand out from the masses precisely because no one does what DS Automobiles do.

We do wish some details were pushed to execution a little further, such as having both front seats electronically controllable and a slightly more practical infotainment system but there’s a limit to what we can ask for a reasonable base price of ¥3,730,000 ($36,000; £27,000). On the other hand, the DS3 offers some features such as the flushed door handles and automatic unlocking that a car from this segment would usually not have. It is worth adding some extra options to the DS3 Crossback to fully enjoy what the car has to offer, in this case the ¥300,000 ($2,900; £2,200) Opera look. Fully optioned, this model was priced at ¥4,260,000 ($41,000; £31,000) which isn’t at all an outrageous price but a Q2 for the same price will get you a bit more performance.

But there is only so far performance can take you. As a small SUV, a good 95% of its use will revolve around daily commuting alongside carrying kids and groceries. Performance will be better enjoyed with cars from a different segment, so why not indulge in a chic daily driver for a change? The DS3 Crossback brings a “feel good” energy to the table and possesses the ability to make you look good on any day. You won’t find this anywhere else.

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Comments (30)

  • It’s quite a nice looking car, and it’s refreshing the way the French tune their suspension for comfort. Most of us hoon very seldom, and most modern European cars are pretty harsh on the road unless you’ve got a posh one with computer controlled air suspension. And remember Citroen’s old hydropneumatic suspension? Riding on that was like floating on a cloud, no really. Shame they got rid of it.

      6 months ago
    • It is overall pretty nicely designed and they made this DS3 Crossback a very comfortable one! But true, the old hydropneumatic suspension was pretty iconic!

        6 months ago
  • Notice that most manufacturers are using the same shape grill now?

    From the front, remove the badge, they all look very similar

      6 months ago
    • True. We think it applies to the whole car... all SUVs look so similar to each other, front, profile & back!

        6 months ago
  • The Citroen looks hideous in my opinion.

      6 months ago
    • You mean the previous hatchback Citroen DS3? If so, we're not big fans either..! but DS did a fantastic job improving the design with this DS3 Crossback!

        6 months ago
    • The Crossback has this weird bump on the B-Pillar. It just doesn't look nice.

        6 months ago
  • Great write up Claire. I enjoyed this one. I have never heard of this manufacturer. I appreciate the education.

    I really like how the center air vents and controls are laid out. At first glance it was odd. Upon further inspection it was so logical and well thought out it's a wonder this hasn't been done. Maybe not in the same shape but the buttons around the vents and in a way that is simple and logical.

    The shark fin is striking, actually. Like a Hoffmeister kink on the other side of the door. I wonder if any electronics are/or could be packed into that space?

      6 months ago
  • Not a huge fan of the looks, but great article guys :)

      6 months ago