- Dynamic styling with diamond-themed interior
- Far more refined than the ICE versions
- Impressive range between charges
- Not much space for back seat passengers
- Expensive in today’s market
- Boot is not very practical
The dynamically-styled DS 3 has always been a bit of a head-turner with its French chic design and all the elegant interior creativity and craftsmanship you could possibly wish for.
It is available in petrol or fully electrified guise and, earlier this year, the car was given a mid-life make-over with lots of design tweaks. But possibly the biggest news is an increase in battery power for the EV, which in turn means more driving range between charges.
There is only one choice for customers when it comes to battery size – a 54kWh pack, but they do get to select from a range of trim levels called Performance Line, Performance Line+, Rivoli, Opera and a new Esprit de Voyage specification that has just joined the line-up.
We opted for the electric DS 3 Opera E-TENSE for our test drive on a range of roads.
When some cars are given a mid-life makeover you can barely notice the difference. That’s certainly not the case with the DS 3 though which gains a new-look front and rear end thanks to improved LED headlights, a new diamond grille and DS wings, a new front bumper and more distinctive daytime running lights.
In addition, there are fresh colour options and our test car really stood out in a Diva Red shade, complimented by 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and the traditional shark-fin shaped panels.
Moving inside, there is a choice of upholstery with the option of Nappa leather, Alcantara or cloth. Our range-topping model was kitted out with all the bells and whistles and there was an elegant, sophisticated and upmarket feel to the cabin.
The leather upholstery looks and feels high-end and there is a diamond theme throughout with touch-sensitive buttons.
On-board technology is impressive with a 10.3-inch touchscreen which is the car’s nerve centre and access point to features such as the 3D connected navigation system with natural voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker DAB radio, a reversing camera and plenty more besides.
A clear seven-inch digital driver display shows all the vital data such as speed, range and battery levels, while a seven-inch head-up display is also a useful feature.
All controls and readouts are easy to operate on the fly, but some of the touch-sensitive buttons take some getting used to as you are never quite sure if the action has been completed so run the risk of pushing the same button over and over again.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
Powering the latest DS 3 E-TENSE is a 54kWh battery pack delivering 155hp and 260Nm of torque. The front-wheel drive model accelerates via a single-speed transmission and can complete the 0-62mph dash in a decent enough 9.0 seconds with a top speed set at 93mph.
But, in reality the figure most owners will be keen to hear about is the extended driving range on the new DS 3 which is now up to 250 miles between charges.
The dynamic styling isn’t quite matched by the handling, but it’s certainly responsive enough and can cope with dual carriageways, twisting country lanes and busy congested town traffic admirably.
It’s a car that goes about its business in quite a mild-mannered way, which you wouldn’t expect when you consider its somewhat aggressive appearance.
The grip is confident through tight corners with no sign of body sway and the cabin is beautifully hushed against outside noises too. The steering could do with a little more feel, but is fine when manoeuvring around town, while the highly effective suspension smooths out all but the harshest bumps.
There are drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport that alter the driving characteristics of the car and a B mode will increase the level of regenerative braking, although single-pedal driving is not an option.
Space & Practicality
The DS 3 Opera E-TENSE certainly has a strong road presence with its athletic design and sharp lines. It stretches 4,118mm in length, is 1,988mm wide with mirrors extended and is 1,534mm tall.
There is bundles of space up front and, with powered seats and ample steering wheel adjustment, it’s quick and easy to find the perfect driving position.
Back seats passengers are not treated quite so well however with quite limited leg room. This is made even less appealing if someone up front decides to push their seat right back.
But, in reality, the DS 3 is not designed for four adults to sit comfortably – it’s a compact SUV so offers decent space for three children with Isofix child seat anchors to the outer rear seats. That said; they may struggle with the tiny rear windows that can prove claustrophobic.
The boot is accessed via a manually-operated tailgate and can hold 350 litres of goodies up to the parcel shelf. This capacity increases to a respectable 1,050 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere, you get a few options to store bits and pieces, such as a compact glovebox, small central bin, wide door pockets, seat back pockets, two cup holders up front, trays and a wireless charging pad.
Charging the DS 3 Opera E-TENSE from 0 to 100 per cent using a home charger takes 7 hours, 30 minutes, or just 30 minutes from 0 to 80 per cent via a 100kW rapid charger.
The DS 3 line-up costs from £25,920 for the PureTech 100 petrol model in entry-level Performance Line and rises to £42,700 for the E-TENSE model in Opera specification, as tested.
Our car also featured a couple of optional extras that saw the final price climb to £43,675. These were metallic paint and a DS Matrix LED Vision light pack.
With zero carbon emissions, EV owners can cash in on a number of government incentives such as being exempt from road tax charges, congestion and low emission zone fees. And, whereas owners of ICE cars costing in excess of £40k pay an additional premium car tax levy, EV owners also escape that charge.
Unfortunately, you need to act fast though as the government has announced it will be reducing or withdrawing many incentives completely from 2025.
For anyone considering the DS 3 Opera E-TENSE as a company car, it has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of two per cent and the car sits in insurance group 31.
There’s no denying the appeal of the DS 3, especially since it gained its own identity from Citroen. Its styling is quite unique with the shark-fin panel and the new design enhancements. It’s well equipped and drives nicely too.
But is it enough to win over fans in such a fiercely competitive sector which seems to be growing by the day? Only time will tell.