France-based DS Automobiles has revealed its second model since becoming a stand-alone premium car maker pitched directly at the likes of Audi and Volvo: the Audi Q2-rivalling DS 3 Crossback. The new model made its public debut at the Paris motor show.
Following the DS 7 Crossback as the second of six planned DS models by 2023, the small SUV enters one of the most competitive and fastest-growing segments in Europe. The 3 Crossback is the first model based on the PSA Group’s new common modular platform (CMP) architecture, which will underpin every small car from DS, Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and Vauxhall in the immediate future, including the next Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa.
The French-built 3 Crossback, which will reach the UK in the second quarter of next year, is also an indirect replacement for the DS 3 three-door supermini. That model will stay in production until the end of 2019 before being phased out. The 3 Crossback, codenamed D34, will be offered with petrol and diesel engines and, soon after launch, as a fully electric vehicle.
The plan of DS, and indeed the whole of PSA, is to offer electrified versions of each of its cars, rather than having bespoke electric models. Engines include 99bhp, 128bhp and new 153bhp variants of the three-cylinder 1.2-litre Puretech petrol unit, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox offered. A 99bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel will also feature.
The EV uses a 50kWh lithium ion battery to power a 134bhp electric motor (0-62mph in 8.7sec, with a top speed of 93mph) to provide a range of more than 186 miles on the WLTP test cycle (an exact figure has yet to be confirmed). On the now-outdated NEDC cycle, the range was 280 miles. An 80% recharge of the battery pack is possible within half an hour through a 100kW rapid charger. The batteries are stored in the space normally given over to the fuel tank, under the seats and within the centre tunnel to ensure interior space is identical to that of the conventionally powered versions.
The car’s styling was inspired by the 7 Crossback, while the shark-fin side pillars are a nod to the 3 hatchback. DS design chief Thierry Métroz says the 4118mm-long, 1791mm-wide and 1534mm-tall 3 Crossback’s design has been optimised around the new CMP architecture. DS designers were involved in its gestation to give the car the best possible chance of design leadership in such a style-led segment. To that end, DS is hopeful of challenging at the top of the sector in terms of sales.
The 3 Crossback is being pitched as a technology-rich model in its segment, with features such as flush-fitting door handles, matrix LED headlights and, unusually for any car, let alone one of this size, no visible rubber between the side windows and bodywork. Much of the technology used, such as the active safety systems, is borrowed from the larger 7 Crossback. It includes an emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians at night. Premium features that have also made their way from the 7 Crossback include nappa leather and Alcantara interior trim options.
The aforementioned combustion engines will almost inevitably account for the bulk of 3 Crossback sales, but the launch of the electric model will set DS on a path laid out by its parent company to become a builder of only electrified cars from 2025. The 3 Crossback EV will therefore be a pivotal model in the brand’s future growth plans.
Peugeot has demonstrated the effectiveness of launching SUV models: its strong sales growth represented more than two-thirds of PSA’s 2017 sales. DS’s more expensive products mean it is unlikely to challenge for the top spot, but executives will be hoping the 3 Crossback can arrest the company’s recent sales downturn.
Demand for DS models declined by a significant 38.5 percent last year, largely due to a heavy decrease in sales in the Chinese market.