What is it?
While sibling brands Peugeot and Vauxhall are taking aim at slightly smaller and cheaper electric superminis with their first battery-powered models, DS Automobiles has bet on the compact crossover hatchback with its EV debutant. And since it might also be considered a ‘style’ or ‘design’ car, the new DS 3 Crossback E-Tense makes a surprisingly close rival for the cars it will inevitably be compared with – the Kia Soul EV and Hyundai Kona Electric.
Success will be a taller order in this niche, though (excuse the awful pun). Both Kia and Hyundai are available with bigger drive batteries and better electric range, and for similar money to that of our upper-trim-level DS test car. Both the Koreans are faster accelerating and more powerful than the DS (assuming you discount the cheaper, smaller-batteried version of the Hyundai). And both offer better cabin practicality. There is also a pseudo in-house rival for this car in the shape of the Peugeot e-2008, which has the same electric powertrain and battery but is notably cheaper and, according to our early testing at least, is also more practical.
All of which doesn’t sound like the most auspicious preliminary appraisal, does it? DS Automobiles will claim that the practical qualities we’ve already mentioned won’t be so important to its clientele, who place at least equal stall on a luxurious ambience and a stylish design. And it’s not as if this E-Tense is letting the electric side down with its 134bhp electric motor, near-200-mile claimed range or sub-9.0sec 0-62mph acceleration claim – although it certainly doesn’t seem to be breaking much ground, either.