A few years ago, I didn't have a good first impression with DS. The thing was, it wasn't the brand or a car that did it - it was the dealer (I won't say any more). Fast forward a few years and the DS7 Crossback was released, a beautiful and stylish SUV - I had to try it. Sure enough, I loved it and didn't want to hand it back. Suddenly DS announced a smaller crossover SUV which had DS7 looks and tech but with a small-car price tag.

Welcome the DS3 Crossback to the world, a car which has peppy styling impressions and an interior you wouldn't think possible (at all) for the price. How could something which costs under £30,000 have as much going for it as the DS3 Crossback does?

An exterior master piece

Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration - but it's a good looking car. The front end benefits from the new DS design language - bold and stylish with strong lines. Usually such a big grille would look silly, however DS have managed to make it look somewhat manageable thanks to licence plate positioning. When you move to the side of the car, you're presented with 'Tesla'esque' retracting door handles which freaked me out initially - and lots of triangles and curves too.

Rear end wise, it looks a lot more sporty than it actually is. The duel exhaust pipes would lead you to believe power, however the 3-cylinder petrol engine only produces 155PS. However, styling wise it does look the business - lovely and refined with flowing lines. The diamond-cut alloys really do finish off the external look. The DS3 can suit sitting outside a fancy restaurant or hotel as much as it can do the every-day parking lot.

Sorry, I forgot to take an interior photo - so here's a video capture. #potatocamera

Sorry, I forgot to take an interior photo - so here's a video capture. #potatocamera

The interior luxury is mind blowing..

It's not very often I get in to a car which costs under £30,000 and think "well, isn't this nice". Not to mention this is in the crossover SUV market too - really the interior should be rubbish for the price. Whilst not totally packed with leather, the DS3 does have bundles of good quality plastics and fabrics mixed with an interior design language that makes you think of Daft Punk.

The seating position is nice and holding, with the steering and pedal feel also offering a decent return. Infotainment wise it does a good job, however the touch buttons aren't always responsive - at times it takes a couple of presses. Your passengers get ample space whilst the boot offers a reasonable size - not class leading but entirely reasonable.

Put a few extra options on and you're in a world of total luxury. Also - triangles everywhere, and I love it!

Respectable performance!

Yep, it's not a power house - nor is it a nippy city car, yet somehow it gives you a fun and engaging driving experience. 155PS / 240Nm torque is more than enough to get around with, thanks to the 3-cylinder engine is also sounds good whilst flooring it. You'll hit 62mph in around 9 seconds and go on to 125mph with relative ease. All of this sounds a bit sub-par, however once behind the wheel, the car simply comes alive.

Around town the immediate responsiveness of the engine shows itself at every set of lights and every tricky junction. Whilst the 8-speed auto could be a bit jumpy at times, generally it was a great and quick to react system. B-roads were a total blast, minimal body roll and maximum fun - pushing the engine flat out still returned good economy. On the motorway it didn't struggle, it didn't feel like a 3-cylinder, it didn't feel like a sub-£30,000 car.

For something not made to be a fun sports car, it was proving itself capable at not only the shopping run - but the Sunday back road run too.

"Is it the best French car on sale then?

Big boots to fill, big boots indeed - but I think the DS3 Crossback is the best all-round French car currently on sale. Before you rant in the comments, read this final bit.

It looks great, it doesn't cost the earth, gives incredible practicality, offers some frugality and is an absolute hoot to 'hoon' around in. Whilst not supercar fast, it's also not super slow - it does give you a fun driving characteristic. It's also a car which gives real character and quality, something which so few manufacturers manage these days - DS, for me, have nailed it.

If you don't agree - what do you think is the best French car on sale?

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