The DS 3 is available in both E-Tense electric and PureTech petrol models in the UK (other European countries get a diesel version too), and while the former is intended to carry the brand into the future, the latter is still the bigger seller. Can it carry DS towards the top of the pile in the burgeoning crossover segment? Or is it outshone by rivals? We provide a verdict after driving the PureTech 130 version of DS's new car.
The DS 3 PureTech looks almost identical to the E-Tense electric model, which is to say it’s good looking. Compared to more softly styled alternatives like the Hyundai Kona EV, or more angular electric cars like the MG4, the DS 3 looks pretty swish. With a new black front grille, stainless steel rear badges and sharp LED headlights, it projects a premium feel despite its relatively compact footprint.
The 3 projects a premium feel despite its relatively compact footprint.
What’s it like to drive?
Lighter than the E-Tense electric version, the DS 3 PureTech feels sprightly on the road. It’s more agile over the nose and rides over small road imperfections like cracks and ridges more confidently. It flows over speedbumps, yet also remains composed during enthusiastic cornering, although the car’s crossover ride height prevents it from feeling properly sporty. Instead, we’d say it’s capable and willing, but obviously focused on being comfortable.
That suits the car’s demeanour just fine, and its engine too. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine under the bonnet is paired with an automatic gearbox that makes good use of the 130hp on offer. It’s clearly not going to be rapid, but the gearbox shifts through ratios happily enough to keep the engine on the boil, should you want to, for example, maintain momentum on a country road or power hard onto a motorway. The motor even sounds good, with a gruff note under power.
The DS 3 PureTech, like its electric sibling, is excellently refined. Road and wind noise are low, and the engine does mostly operate in near silence. DS has done a commendable job in making this little car comparable to an executive saloon when it comes to unwanted noises from under the bonnet or outside. The brakes too are pleasantly easy to manage, while the steering feels perfectly weighted.
In town, the turning circle is excellent, and visibility is good thanks to the wide range of sensors and cameras providing a 360-degree view of your surroundings. Natural visibility is good as well because the car’s crossover ride height enables a longer view of the road ahead. That’ll please drivers who feel uncomfortable in low-riding hatchbacks.
In town, the turning circle is excellent.
The DS 3 PureTech gets a slightly altered interior compared to the pre-update car, with a new 10.3-inch infotainment screen that houses a fast, smartphone-like digital system. Its graphics are pleasingly sharp and the reactions are quick too, although the menus aren’t the most intuitive to use. You soon get the hang of it though, and there are touch-sensitive buttons on the centre console to shortcut your way through the systems and access, for example, the climate control menu.
Better still, there are proper buttons (rather than touch-sensitive ones) on the steering wheel, enabling faster control of the stereo and driver assistance features (like adaptive cruise control). And while the digital instrument cluster behind the wheel is a tad on the small side, it’s nicely integrated into the dash and comes supported by a head-up display. You’re certainly not short on digital visuals up front.
By contrast, in the back, there’s no technology – well, aside from electric windows. You don’t even get vents or a USB port, so all the fun is to be had in the row ahead. Front passengers have lovely supportive seats with good space, but rear passengers are a little more cramped with not much legroom. Kids should be fine, but six-foot adults will find it snug.
The boot is more comparable with hatchbacks than small SUVs, so you’ve got space for a couple of weekend getaway bags or one big suitcase. There’s no underfloor storage, but with a relatively deep floor, your shopping bags will be nice and secure.
Running costs and reliability
It’s too soon to comment on long-term reliability in this new model, but the DS 3’s predecessor has positive owner reviews. The turbocharged 1.2-litre engine under the bonnet is used extensively in other models, and it does seem to be pretty tough.
In the 3 PureTech, DS claims as much as 49.6 miles per gallon combined, which is pretty good going – and we saw no reason to doubt the car’s plus-40mpg capabilities on our test. As such, it shouldn’t require too many visits to the fuel pump.
DS claims as much as 49.6 miles per gallon combined.
What we love
The refinement on offer in this little car is more comparable with executive saloons that cost twice the price. As a place for two people to spend a lot of time, the DS 3 PureTech is lovely.
The refinement on offer in this little car is more comparable with executive saloons.
Still looking for the one?
Use our comparison tool to find the car for you
There’s lots to like in DS’s new 3 PureTech, so despite not being the strongest technical offering in the class, it really does get under your skin.
This review was