DS Automobiles is one of many brands that sit under the large Stellantis umbrella. It’s positioned as a French equivalent to a BMW, an Audi, or a Mercedes, and its dealerships – known as ‘Salons’ – are suitably posh. In fact, buy a DS like the DS 3, and owners are treated to money-can’t-buy experiences, and a whole host of luxurious sweeteners. Where DS has an advantage, though, is pricing because while Mercedes and BMW make small premium electric SUVs, they’re around £10,000 more expensive than even the priciest DS 3. That’s not to say the DS 3 is good value, though – something we’ll return to in a bit.
Being part of the Stellantis empire means the DS 3 has much in common with its sister brands. It uses the same platform as a Vauxhall Corsa Electric, for instance, while its new larger battery and motor is shared with Jeep’s first electric car, the Avenger. Why would you go for the DS 3, then? Well, it’s one of Stellantis’s premium brands and is deemed to be a cut above in both material quality and driving characteristics than a Peugeot e-2008, for example.
To a certain extent the DS 3 succeeds in being a luxurious offering. Its styling certainly stands out and has a bit of upmarket flare, while the interior with its leather-covered surfaces and intricate detailing certainly adds a special touch. Behind the wheel is a relaxing experience too, with soft, supple suspension, a comfortable driving position, and polished driving manners. Where the DS 3 really scores, though, is refinement – it’s an extremely hushed place to be, and it’s a small crossover that feels just at home on a long journey as it does in a congested city.
Where things start to fall down is price. While it undercuts other premium marques’ small SUVs, the DS 3 still feels over priced. As it uses the underpinnings of a Corsa, space is in short supply with cramped rear seats and there’s just an average sized boot. The tech is decent, but there are a few features such as a head-up display which should be standard rather than reserved for the options list, and it’s hard to get away from the fact that there are now many more EVs on sale at this price point. Even a mid-spec DS 3 E-Tense comes in at just under £40,000 while top-spec cars are priced at over £42,000 – when you bear in mind a Tesla Model Y, which has a considerably larger interior and battery pack, costs just a few thousand pounds more, the DS 3 looks a tad pricey.
That said, the newly updated DS 3 remains a stylish choice that has a welcome larger battery and driving range. It still delights but remains a car that’ll be bought mostly on the way it looks and feels. You really have to love its style and panache to ignore its shortcomings.