DS thinks big with its new com­pact Cross­back

Llanelli Star - - MOTORING - David Ward

IT hasn’t taken DS – the up­mar­ket brand from the Peu­geot/Citroen sta­ble – to put its two-penny-worth into the fast grow­ing com­pact SUV sec­tor.

With the ar­rival of the DS 3 Cross­back the French car maker is go­ing head-to-head with the likes of the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and VW’s T-Roc.

But be­ing a DS it’s dif­fer­ent and of­fers what com­pany bosses call ‘in­no­va­tive, stylish, safe, lux­u­ri­ous and a cut above the av­er­age’ range of mod­els.

DS as a brand was only cre­ated in 2015 and this is its first foray into the highly com­pet­i­tive pre­mium com­pact SUV sec­tor.

Yes, the new DS 3 is stylish in its looks, quite funky in some ways and of­fers some­thing that’s. dif­fer­ent from the rest of the pack.

DS’s UK boss Alain Descat said: “I think we’ve cracked it with this Cross­back and we have a model that will now at­tract con­quest sales from ri­vals with buy­ers look­ing for some­thing quite dif­fer­ent that’s stylish look­ing, prac­ti­cal but ooz­ing qual­ity from top to bot­tom.”

It cer­tainly looks dif­fer­ent with a swoop­ing roofline, big dis­tinc­tive grille, round head­lights and sev­eral small dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures like the pop out door han­dles.

There’s a choice of four trim lev­els – El­e­gance, which comes in at £21,500, then Per­for­mance Line from £22,950, Pres­tige from £24,955 then Ul­tra Pres­tige which costs from £30,950.

To kick things off there’s also a spe­cial launch edi­tion called La Pre­miere start­ing at £32,450.

Ini­tially, there is a choice of three dif­fer­ent power out­puts from the PSA group’s 1.2-litre three-cylin­der tur­bocharged PureTech petrol engine – 99bhp, 129bhp and 153bhp – plus one diesel, a 1.5-litre BlueHDi at 99bhp.

By the end of the year an al­l­elec­tric model will ar­rive, pos­si­bly cost­ing around the £40,000 mark.

The small­est 99bhp engine ver­sions have a six-speed man­ual gear­box while the other tur­bocharged petrol mod­els have an eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box as stan­dard.

Mod­els with the 129bhp engine are ex­pected to be the best seller and it’s easy to see why. It’s fun to drive and the engine re­sponds well un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, re­main­ing re­mark­ably quiet for a three­cylin­der.

As such the DS 3 Cross­back has a firm ride with sup­ple sus­pen­sion, eas­ily soaks up rough sur­faced roads and has re­ally grippy road hold­ing when pushed around twisty coun­try roads.

There’s a choice of driv­ing modes on all ver­sions – eco, nor­mal and sport.

Most driv­ers will find nor­mal mode the most ef­fi­cient and re­ward­ing while the eight- speed au­to­matic gear­box has ex­cel­lent and quick gear change move­ment mak­ing it a re­ward­ing and en­joy­able car to drive.

It ac­cel­er­ates from 0 to 60 in 9.2 sec­onds, tops out at 124mph and of­fi­cially is rated at 44.4mpg with emis­sions of 117g/km.

The auto box is Ja­panese and is the same as that used in Volvo’s new V60 se­ries mod­els and in both cars its highly im­pres­sive.

In­side the DS 3 Cross­back the qual­ity and fin­ish is of high stan­dard and comes with nice, soft feel­ing ma­te­ri­als like leather and Al­can­tara while the top ver­sions have a watch strap de­sign for their Nappa leather fin­ish­ing - again an­other natty touch that makes the in­te­rior dif­fer­ent to ri­vals.

The dash­board and sur­rounds are well de­signed and have re­cur­ring tri­an­gle shaped but­tons and con­trols while in terms of in­te­rior space there’s plenty of head and leg room in the front but com­pared to most ri­vals rear seat legroom is lim­ited.

Boot space is only 350 litres which is less than that of the al­ter­na­tives but what is im­pres­sive across the whole DS range is the high level of stan­dard kit.

Even the en­try-level El­e­gance, sit­ting on 17-inch wheels, has rear park­ing sen­sors, air con­di­tion­ing, a seven-inch touch­screen, with Android Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay, Blue­tooth and DAB.

Nat­u­rally, fur­ther up the range the stan­dard list be­comes even more im­pres­sive and pro­vides ex­cep­tion­ally good value for the money and al­though the car has yet to re­ceive a Euro NCAP rat­ing it’s clear it will have no prob­lems in that depart­ment.

Like­wise, in­sur­ance rat­ings have yet to be con­firmed but bosses ex­pect that to be more than com­pet­i­tive with ri­vals.

Over­all, the new DS 3 Cross­back cer­tainly of­fers some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent in the more up­mar­ket com­pact SUV sec­tor and it will help con­tinue the com­pany’s 20 year plan to es­tab­lish the brand here and on the Con­ti­nent.

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