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Summary

Also Consider;

Audi Q2

First modern Audi to look moderately interesting externally, jazzy interior and spec good, however still fulfils the Audi dream of being boring and unyielding to drive.  Aggressive grille for others rear view mirrors.

Ford Kuga V

Current model not tested.  Previous model majors on value for money, while not inspiring it just does the job in typical Ford manner.  An exceptional bargain if you need 4x4 functionality over styling and modernity.

Mercedes GLA

Very well styled and good-looking car-based crossover by Mercedes, looks good in country and city, yet retains the typical Mercedes laid-back motorway cruiser capabilities.  Very short on precision and fun, premium price though…

Kia Niro

You get a lot of car for your money.  Exterior reasonably attractive and influenced by practicality.  Interior can show Audi the way forward, very spacious.  Smooth drive heading toward Mercedes standard.  The market leader soon?

Volvo XC40

The surprise.  Looks funkily young, unlike its bigger 4x4 brothers.  Fit and finish not up to this company, compensated by many auto-drive aids imported from the larger cars.  Reasonably spacious.  Expensive.

Background

The saloon-to-sports utility Crossover is for car manufacturers the success story of the last few years - at the outset 'vertical' cars with relatively simple construction, saloon comfort and ample interior space with large doors, all without the necessity for uneconomically large engines and four-wheel drive.  Customer acceptance was rapid and sales volumes have steadily increased, with great benefit to the buyers, to the manufacturers and to retailer viability.  Therefore, virtually every car maker has jumped on the band-wagon as the market share of this genre goes through 30% and hurtles inexorably toward 50%.  So the announcement of yet another new SUV-crossover was to be expected, almost month by month.

On The Road

At the UK launch I was able to drive the limited-edition 'La Premiere' which has all the electronic driver aids you would want today, an extremely plush fine leather interior, a dashboard that impresses with both style and finish - and on this particular car an uprated version of the award-winning Peugeot 3-cylinder 1.2 litre petrol engine which offers amazing performance from 155bhp very smoothly indeed, through a superb 8-speed auto gearbox.  Within the limitations of my test route this car was a joy to drive in armchair comfort.  


For the moment this car is offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines, manual or automatic gearbox.  Retail prices range from mid-20 to mid-30's and options can add to this.  The 'La Premiere' edition may be overkill for many buyers, so I am hoping to subject another cheaper DS 3 to a detailed assessment very soon, when much more range detail can be revealed.  I look forward to that!


Specification

Here is the new DS 3 Crossback, but what differentiates it?  The Peugeot group alone already has several very successful cars in this sector of the market from the Peugeot 2008 to 5008 and the Citroen Aircross range, all of them brilliant cars which lead this market.  So the addition of the new DS 3 Crossback might seem like overkill?  Just a reminder that DS is a young brand which has specialised in luxury vehicles with the prime short term intent of leading the Peugeot Group in the adoption of automated driver aids and ultimately in the popularisation of all-electric propulsion.


This is a visually drop-dead gorgeous car with a distinctly different 'look' both externally and within, displaying lots of leading-edge technology and featuring luxury.  At only just over 4 metres long, it certainly isn't a large car, but has managed to create plenty of comfortable space for 4 or 5 occupants.


The Future

But what about electrification?  Groupe Peugeot have invested many years in alternative power and have a huge data-bank of experience both in innovation of the car and the way we as consumers view and use the car as a means of transport - including modes such as pay-per-use and car-sharing clubs.  


The Groupe Peugeot decision not to offer full electric versions at launch is taken wisely, as relevant technology evolves on a monthly basis and they will launch only when the time is right.  


Dso, in a few months there will be an E-Tense full electric version of this car, offering the equivalent of 136bhp, which should also give the car excellent performance particularly in town abut also on the motorway.  At present UK charging points are randomly far between, may already be in use, and remain expensive per charge.


A plug-in hybrid ICE-electric car does not appear to be in the prodcut plan, possibly missing a practical marketing opportunity. Conversely, it should be noted that a plug-in hybrid is to be offered on the larger and similarly stylish DS 7 later this year.


Summary

In summary, this is a very luxurious and competent addition to the range of SUV-crossovers on the market and positioned as it is at the top end of French luxury, will find discerning buyers looking for something fresh and visibly different - especially attractive to those looking to down-size out of heavy and unwieldy gas-guzzlers.


Update - on the Track

We previously drove this new car on the congested streets of West London, a luxury ride in quietness.  Therefore, it was very interesting to briefly try a couple of other variants on the ‘Hill Circuit’ at the UK motor industry’s excellent test facility.


The opportunity was taken to focus upon ride and handling and general driveability.  It was previously noted to be a controlled and well -insulated ride, but this did not stretch its capabilities in town.  


Our track test showed that this car has very balanced handling and can be very accurately placed in challenging road conditions - hill-climbing, cornering and surface changes were taken in its stride without fight-back.


The 130bhp petrol engine enabled good progress but needed the automatic gearbox to keep rapid progress going.  This engine is likely to be the popular consumer choice but those interested in more performance will want the 155bhp engine, while for high mileage users the diesel remains a question-mark until we are able to make a detailed assesssment of a DS 3 with the diesel engine and manual gearbox.