Test of the DS3 Crossback e-tense: a small premium SUV in the world of electric – Vroom


It is by creating a new category that DS intends to find a place in the market for electric vehicles. To conquer its customers, the French manufacturer offers a car certainly classy and trendy, but that enough to make an interesting car? We wanted to check it by taking the wheel of two versions of this electrified DS3 Crossback.

If you are told that this DS3 Crossback e-tense is the first of a new category of electric vehicles, you may be having big eyes. And for good reason, it is true that this model adopts a template at first glance quite classic. However, in the automotive jargon the DS3 Crossback ranks among the SUV. In fact, we would see boxing in the same category as the Hyundai Kona EV or the Kia e-Niro. But for the French manufacturer, this vehicle owes its unique character to its positioning that would make all the difference: it is a SUV segment B (understand compact), electric, and, above all, premium. In other words, it would be a smaller and much cheaper alternative to Tesla Model X, Audi e-Tron, Jaguar i-Pace or Mercedes EQC.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

The rates ? They range from 39 100 to 46 200 euros depending on the finish and ecological bonus. In our article, you will find different photos featuring a Rubi red model in "Performance Line" finish and a Cristal Pearl model corresponding to the most upscale version, namely the "La Premiere" limited edition.

Whatever the model, there is no question of making a choice on the engine or the capacity of the battery: it is the same for everyone. And when we say everyone, we think in particular of her cousins ​​(more or less distant) PSA group. Recall that the DS3 Crossback e-tense shares its 100 kW engine (equivalent to 136 hp) and its battery 50 kWh (46 kWh useful) with the Peugeot e-208 and Opel Corsa-e. What else to keep similar promises elsewhere in terms of autonomy with 320 km announced according to the WLTP cycle, but a sportier configuration of its engine with a torque of 260 Nm and a 0 to 100 km / h promised in 8.7 seconds.

Good news for all those who refuse the idea that an electric car must have a different look: the version e-tense (remember that it is the surname of all electric models at DS) of this DS3 Crossback 100% electric resumes the design of the thermal version as its dimensions besides (1.54 m high, 1.98 m wide and 4.18 m long).

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

The wide grille and its famous "chrome DS Wings" still impose as much, as the different features of body very marked that give the car an indisputable character. And character, that's what DS teams wanted to bring with his model, aware of the other side of the coin. Indeed, the DS3 Crossback is well built, broad shoulders and suddenly, does not claim to break a record in Cx (coefficient of drag, so important for an electric vehicle) here is 0.35 … it is high, but fully assumed.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

The light signature does not change either, in particular provided by these optical units so characteristic by their corrugated shape. Let us be clear from the outset that we did not have the opportunity to drive at night, but LED matrix headlights, whose particularity is to be able to drive in full headlights without dazzling other users through piloted segments , should guarantee an exemplary driving comfort.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: DS
DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: DS

Inside, no doubt, we are good at DS. We find this originality that could pass for an offbeat style, or at least original. Here again, the central console is taken from the thermal version, with its diamond-shaped touch buttons. We like, or we do not, but they have been rather reactive. However, be careful not to let your hand drag while you tap on the touch screen, false manipulations are not uncommon.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: Thomas Cortesi

As we wrote further, we had the opportunity to take the wheel of two finishes of this small SUV, the "Performance Line" version and the "The first" edition. Respectively, these are rather sporty or downright ultra-chic models. One as the other does not call any criticism. The materials are of quality, whether it is the alcantara of the DS Performance or finishes of La Premiere. Moreover on our test models, necessarily well equipped, we do not know where to turn to go around the details: carmine and gold stitching, sheathed steering wheel or door threshold and chrome pedals.

The habitat is flattering, but is it to hide flaws?

Take your bearings

Once aboard one can not help but make some criticisms here and there, some less hard than the others. Among the nicest, we emit a small flat on the location of the key access to applications and phone. It is found a little "far from the driver" for days of great acute laziness.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: Thomas Cortesi

Not enough to panic, just reach out, but still. On the other hand, lower the atmosphere is more … loaded. A constellation of buttons! It is neither more nor less glass controls whose integration and look are taken from the DS7 Crossback. We do not hide that even after a big day at the wheel of this DS3 Crossback e-tense, we always reflexes to look for window controls on the door. A matter of habit, assuredly.

And while the 10-inch screen that overlooks the dashboard is rather good quality and ideally placed so as not to have to look away from the road too long, it will clearly have taken us a moment to familiarize ourselves with the different menus of the DS interface. Sometimes you have to look for submenus of menus to find your account. The sleek side of Tesla or smartphones is far away.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

Not only we find it uncomfortable ergonomic (probably again for lack of habit), but it is downright unfortunate that the temperature of the ventilation (air conditioning or heating) is permanently displayed on each side of the screen, especially in a size as impressive. The temperatures could be given in smaller, corner, leaving room for some other information. Why not display the name of the radio or song being listened to, the list of charging stations on our route (or nearby), and so on. In short, you will understand, in our opinion this space is somewhat spoiled and we have not found in the options of what to customize.

There is however a point on which DS makes a faultless, it is on the comfort of driving. The three modes proposed (sport, normal, and eco) make it possible to pass from a rather dynamic temperament to something much more urban.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

Dynamic first, with the sport mode. It is he who allows to exploit all the power of the block 100 kW. Not enough to climb trees, it equals only 136 horses, but accelerations are good and the SUV is voluntary on raises. The winding roads and some braking support remind us that this electric version of the DS3 Crossback still weighs 1,525 pounds. It's between 355 and 320 kg more than the petrol and diesel versions. We had almost forgotten so much the car is agile in town or at moderate speed.

On our test route, a few portions of the highway allowed us to see – unsurprisingly – that the car is also comfortable when the pace accelerates. Its maximum speed of 150 km / h is reached fairly quickly, but here we are limited to 130 km / h, just a short time before going back to 110 km / h.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

By nature, the electric car is silent, but this model is more than average. DS cared for his copy by doing a remarkable job on the insulation of his Premium SUV. While its aerodynamics does not act as a standard meter, but for all the wind noise and rolling are controlled, especially thanks to the presence of thicker glazing.

So it is very quiet by the silence and the comfort (the movements of cash are also well managed), that the road is cut … with the possibility besides to be pleased with good music.

Because even if this e-tense version of the DS3 does not (still) benefit from the Focal Electra audio option, the integrated system standard delivers outstanding audio quality. In any case, this is our first impression when we listened to our Spotify playlists via Android Auto. The opportunity to clarify that the infotainement is also compatible with Apple CarPlay. For lack of an iPhone in your pocket, we say that this interface should work as well as that of Google (who said "and probably better"?) Which did not pose any problem during our test.

The use of Google Maps and Waze is also possible to supplement the home GPS, but you will lose comfort. Indeed, the head-up display – on the plastic slide, not very premium for the shot – only works with the basic navigation. Navigation that benefits in addition to traffic information visibly up to date according to our first findings.

It stuck in the back

Life will be a little softer for the rear passengers, who, like the thermal version, will feel cramped. Indeed, not only the leg room is not huge, but the glass area is also limited.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

The fault with the famous "shark wing", this end of body which goes back on the rear door like a wave and which, seen from the inside, clearly cuts the field of vision. Children may not appreciate.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

Finally, travel should also be light since the trunk can only accommodate 350 liters of luggage. The load volume increases to 1050 liters when the rear seat is folded down. As an indication, the payload peaks at 450 kg, where a BlueHDI 130 version, for example, is given for 530 kg.

Solutions to spare his mount

As we said, DS has several modes of driving, including normal or eco modes. Normal mode will probably be the most used during trips where it will not be necessary to make concessions to extend the range, but where the sport mode is not essential. In other words, when you want to ride normally, without being brutalized by the acceleration with each impulse a little frank on the right pedal, or even have the impression of dragging you in a machine of 80 horses.

Because yes, once the eco mode selected, say goodbye to 136 horses. The 100 kW engine closes its power to 60 kW, the equivalent of 82 horsepower … and with 1.5 tons on the scale, the loss of power does not go unnoticed.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: Thomas Cortesi for Numerama

However, the instantaneous torque of the electric, even if it is more sluggish in this mode, remains saving. It must be recognized that this eco mode, we have used a lot in our test. The route took a lot of traffic in town and even through some villages where the limitation required us to keep a pace of 30 km / h. Not easy, especially to judge the autonomy.

But finally, once this small electric SUV relaunched progressively from 30 to 50 then 70 and 80 or 90 km / h, the eco mode is forgotten, just like the brake pedal.

Indeed, to further optimize the range, simply pull again on the small speed selector to activate mode B, for "break". There, energy recovery at acceleration becomes more important.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: Thomas Cortesi for Numerama

According to DS, the car could recover up to 50 kW at maximum braking. The power of this engine brake is not as important as that of the Nissan Leaf 2.0 (which really allows to go to a complete stop), but with the right dosage, except for situations where it is necessary to stop, the use of the brake pedal becomes more occasional during a driving cast. It is quite possible to anticipate the insertion on a roundabout, for example, without having to request the stirrups and plates. Similarly on a "give way" providing all the necessary visibility to not stop the vehicle. Because if the driving remains flexible and with a minimum of restart from 0 km / h, autonomy is optimized.

Autonomy, consumption and planning

With less than 350 kilometers on the meter for this test, you can imagine that it is difficult to be categorical about the autonomy of this vehicle – especially as the cold of winter approaches. Nevertheless, the diversity of the roads taken during the test allowed us to note some values ​​in terms of consumption.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

For example, at a stabilized highway speed of 110 km / h, instantaneous consumption is around 17 kWh per 100 km – without air conditioning or heating. But at the slightest revival or rise rate as on a portion to 130 km / h, the DS3 crossback e-tense next to the 20 kWh / 100 km.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

Over our entire journey representing about 330 km of mixed roads, our consumption is indicated at 16.5 kWh / 100 km. Mathematically, this would then give an autonomy of about 280 km considering that the useful capacity of the battery (composed of 18 modules of 12 cells) is given for 46 kWh. We are not on the 320 km announced by the WLTP cycle, but it is not very surprising either.

Anyway, there is still good news, namely that this DS3 Crossback e-tense has a socket Combo CSS accepting a power of 100 kW, which allows, according to DS, recover 80 % energy in 30 minutes. This is a technical choice that seems intelligent. Remember that we were disappointed by the load power of the new Zoe during our test.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama
DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama
DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

And as good news never comes alone, let's add another good idea for DS who developed the mobile application My DS that allows you to prepare your route by taking into account the charging points on your route. For each of your (distant) destinations, the planner takes care of everything for you, including telling you the availability of the terminals in real time.

Add to this that DS offers its customers a unique pass that allows them to access the main available charging networks and consolidate all their expenses and invoices. No need to create multiple online accounts, to switch between different mobile applications to find the stations (even if Charge Map does this very well) or enter each time its credit card details, the step becomes your way to payment. Beware, this pass that gives access to 130 000 terminals in Europe (according to DS) is offered for one year. Beyond that, the service is charged 4.99 euros per month, in addition to the cost charge, of course.

What we are missing

It must be admitted that our tests have left us somewhat short of our hunger. For a (journalist and a) media sensitive to new technologies, we would have liked to find in this DS all the promises made by the manufacturer in terms of innovation. Because if the My DS application is already a good thing, on paper this DS3 Crossback had to have other technologies reminding us of Tesla. We think in this case the possibility of using your smartphone in place of the traditional physical key – in the manner of the Tesla Model 3 which offers this option in addition to the badge. Asked on the subject, the DS teams told us that the option will be offered to customers on the series models that will be delivered from February 2020.

DS3 Crossback e-tense // Source: David Nogueira for Numerama

For now, the manufacturer believes that the security of its technology must be further strengthened to stick with its standards for piracy. February 2020 will also be the opportunity to test the final version of the driver assistance technologies. Indeed, on our test models, neither adaptive cruise control nor course-keeping systems were functional. The regulator was content to maintain the speed chosen by us, but without worrying about the safety distances to keep with the vehicles that preceded us. Too bad, because suddenly, these devices are nothing new and they should have worked perfectly on our test model.

So chic version : 39 100 euros
Performance version line : 39 300 euros
Line + Performance Version : 42,700 euros
Grand chic version : 44 800 euros
Version The First : 46 200 euros

In short

DS3 Crossback e-tense

Indicative rating: 4/5

For its first 100% electric vehicle, it must be recognized that DS is keeping its line of conduct. This DS3 Crossback e-tense takes the character, the look and the neat finishes specific to the brand and explain why it is indeed a premium manufacturer. The tariffs confirm it moreover.

Sure, the catalog does not lack choice of finishes or even options to satisfy a customer who likes the beautiful things DS way. But where it risks getting stuck, it is on the requirements of autonomy. It has to be feared that with only 50 kWh of battery (and even a little less useful) autonomy can barely exceed 300 km in mixed use.

In the city, on the other hand, one can easily imagine that the range should exceed 350 km – subject to maintaining a reasonable driving and with not too rough weather conditions. So yes, DS has a charging interface rather powerful, but still. Recall that for lower rates, Kia and Hyundai today offer cars that, you are granted are not as premium, but still enjoyable to drive, easy to live and with autonomies that can exceed 400 km thanks to batteries of 64 kWh. In conclusion, it is sure the DS 3 Crossback e-tense has something for her … but that is still quite expensive.


  • The neat finishes
  • Driving comfort
  • My DS services
  • The load 100 kW


  • The price / autonomy ratio
  • Space and visibility in the rear seats

Photo credit of the one:
David Nogueira for Numerama

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