FIVE years ago the DS brand split away from Citroen to become a fully-fledged premium player.

Now, in 2019, it is an established French luxury brand in which “savoir faire” meets advanced technology.

Whereas in the past you might have popped down to a Citroen dealer to view a DS, you can now only buy a DS at one of 35 DS salons – and there are big plans for a much larger network.

So, with the divorce amicably settled, DS is embarking on a product expansion that will see a new car launched every year, with the whole stable electrified in some form by 2025.

First of the new breed was the DS7, and now we have the DS 3 Crossback promising the same sort of features as its big brother. That means you get what the French firm calls dynamic serenity, avant garde, advanced technology and lashings of refinement coupled with an obsessive attention to detail.

It is built on a new common modular platform to enable a choice of drive trains, but for now there’s a simple choice of petrol and diesel engines mated with six-speed manual or eight-speed auto gearboxes.

The PureTech 100 petrol engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the PureTech 130 and 155bhp engines are mated to an eight-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. The diesel choice is limited to 100 and 130 engines.

The diesel units get four cylinders, while the petrol engines are of the three-cylinder type, and all of them are turbocharged.

I have not driven the manual version or either of the diesel offerings, but I can vouch for the smooth progress of the auto box, which must be the transmission of choice for those who will spend much of their time stopping and starting in an urban/city environment.

The 130hp petrol will suffice for most needs, even on motorways, but the 155 will be more satisfying to drive. With a soft chassis, the DS 3 plays its trump card – it rides with ease over rough surfaces and bumps.

The big news is that later in the year an electric version called the e-tense will go on sale offering an “haute couture” experience coupled with a 280-mile range. There will also be an electric version of the DS 7 Crossback 4x4 offering 300hp. But more of that at another time.

The new DS 3 is packed to the gills with features that firmly establish it in the premium sector, such as matrix LED vision headlights, flush-fit door handles that pop in and out, smart access from your phone, park pilot, a top-end hi fi system and a bunch of driving and braking assists.

Then there’s the interiors, which range from the chic to luxurious. And there’s plenty to choose from. Elegance starts the range, followed by Performance, Prestige, Ultra Prestige and the launch model, La Premiere.

Even the Elegance model gets a digital instrument cluster and a handful of safety systems, but most customers will at least opt for Prestige, which offers rear parking assistance, automatic air conditioning, leather steering wheel, eight-speaker audio and 17-inch alloy wheels.

As you climb up the range there are all manner of comfort, safety and drivings aids until you reach the lavishness of the La Premiere with its nappa leather dashboard and even pearl stitching.

Priced from £21,550 for the PureTech 100 manual to £32,450 for the La Premeire version with a PureTech 155 mated to automatic transmission, the DS 3 will be hoping to woo customers away from rivals such as the Mini Countryman.

It pulls off the trick of having the feel without the bulk of a full-blown SUV and the driving qualities of a hatchback, and there can be no denying that this car feels very refined.

With a superb choice of colour combinations to boot, it makes for a striking alternative to other premium offerings. Ooh la la indeed.


DS 3 Crossback La Premiere Pure Tech 155 Auto

Price: £33,950 (DS 3 Crossback range from £21,550)

Engine: Three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol, producing 155bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.2 seconds; top speed 129mph

Economy: 44.1mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 123g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ***