The time has come for a mid-life restyling of the small DS SUV, which has been given a new front bumper to give it a more serious, stately look. This restyling, which is aesthetically rather light, allows the DS 3 to introduce the new electric motor developed by Stellantis and Nidec.
After the first photos, it's time to take control of the new DS 3 in this pretty Diva red dress, which deserves its name. This pretty shade, inspired by the Wild Ruby concept of 2013, highlights the DS 3 very well, giving it a nice depth and a different look depending on the light. It is a very successful colour that perfectly matches this new DS 3, which is particularly dynamic thanks to its compact dimensions, compact and well-proportioned, even if the bulbous side remains very present. The flush-mounted door handles and integrated window seals required the body to be given a Botox treatment.
Inside, the DS 3 has not changed much compared to the first version, except for an infotainment screen which inherits the new multimedia system from Stellantis, now well known, and which offers a fluid navigation, personalised with an effective voice command in natural language, but which could benefit from a wider range of commands. Like every DS, the interior of the new DS 3 breathes good quality and good materials, with a very nice leather effect on the edges of the seats and the dashboard strip. There are also pearl stitching, guillochage and the famous Clous de Paris on the console trim, as well as some hard plastics on the underside of the console.
Up front there is more than enough room for the driver and front passenger, although access is a little tricky due to the high ground clearance and thick door sills, but this is inherent to the CMP platform. is common to all cars based on this platform. At the rear, things get a little more complicated and space for adults is really limited, relegating this new DS 3 to the role of second car and child transporter. Due to the presence of the shark's fin, the interior of the DS 3 is also quite dark at the rear, with light not entering properly, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. Nevertheless, as in the front, the seats are very comfortable with a nice softness and excellent support. Here, too, the famous watchstrap seats make their presence felt and undeniably create a very pleasant, upmarket atmosphere.
As for the boot, the volume of 350 litres is quite large for a car that is barely over 4m10. It is very practical, even if the sill can be a bit of a nuisance with heavy loads. DS probably favoured the volume of the boot in the rear seats, arguing that the DS 3 is a second family car and that it will rarely carry tall people in the back.
On the road
We were eager to get behind the wheel of this new DS 3 to finally find out what the new electric motor developed by Stellantis and Nidec could do. With 156 hp, this new engine replaces the old one with more power but the same torque of 250 Nm. The difference is immediately apparent: the engine is much smoother, much quieter and allows the car to coast along, unlike the old engine which felt as if the handbrake hadn't been removed. None of this is the case here, and this new engine displays these talents, allowing for excellent pick-up while being very smooth and fluid, a pure pleasure. In an electric vehicle, the torque and power available immediately make high power levels superfluous, as we are very quickly at the permitted speeds, whether in town, on country roads or on the motorway, so the emphasis is no longer on power, but on energy management, vehicle autonomy and traditional handling and comfort.
This new DS 3 also has the honour of having a redesigned battery with an increased capacity of 54 kWh, which allows it to reach 400 kilometres of autonomy, a figure that becomes interesting and covers daily needs without having to recharge almost every day. One recharge per week is therefore possible, especially as this DS 3 E-Tense works wonders in city traffic, where it is very easy to reach 14 kWh without driving in economy mode and with the air conditioning on. These figures are particularly interesting for those who see 400 km as an achievable target, without having to use their imagination to drive as economically as possible. On the contrary, it is possible to drive normally, anticipating correctly to favour energy recovery, but without having to be vigilant about not accelerating too much and recovering as much as possible. On the downside, Stellantis has the unfortunate tendency not to offer different levels of energy recovery like Hyundai, for example, which offers 4 or even 5, ranging from freewheeling to complete stop with a single pedal, further optimising driving. Instead, this DS3, like all the models in the group, offers a braking mode which increases energy recovery (the braking force is doubled to 1.6 m/s and the brake lights come on), but this mode is activated by a small button on the centre console which is not as accessible as the paddles behind the steering wheel.
This lack is all the more noticeable on the motorway, where it is not possible to let the car coast on long descents and you either have to keep on accelerating to avoid losing too much speed. Or you have to let go of the accelerator and then press it again to regain a normal speed, cancelling out any potential gains in autonomy. This results in an increased consumption of 17.2 kWh over a distance of 250 km (at 110 km/h), a good performance considering that the DS 3 is not the most efficient car in the Stellantis range. The advertised charging capacities (10 to 80% of the battery in less than 30 minutes) are real, the test carried out on Fastned terminals made it possible to easily recover 20% of the battery in a few minutes, even if the charging power never exceeded 50 kWh (against the 100 advertised), but this depends on many external factors.
Surprisingly, if the DS3 seems like a ball of nerves at a standstill, it is not the dynamism that takes over the driving, but rather the comfort, well helped by the noticeably soft seats and the soft suspension. DS had accustomed us to dynamic comfort in the DS 4 and DS 7, but here, in the small DS3, the comfort is slightly better, with more flexibility, which contributes to the overall smoothness of the car and makes the journeys on board very appreciable.
However, the dynamism quickly returns on small secondary roads where, with the Sport mode engaged, it is very easy to have fun with a car that reacts immediately and takes corners with ease, without too much body roll to offer very good sensations of handling. Of course, in this mode, the autonomy drops quickly, especially if you are very playful, but since it is possible to be very economical in normal driving, this electric DS3 allows us to have some little pleasures without fearing that the autonomy will collapse too much.
In conclusion, the test of this new DS 3 with this new electric motor, which is much better than the old block used by the group until now, was very pleasant and interesting. Remarkably flexible and smooth, this new engine gives the DS 3 very good performance, but also autonomy, making medium distance journeys (5 to 600 km) really possible, in a resolutely upmarket environment and atmosphere, in very good comfort and in a very pleasant car to drive on a daily basis. The fact remains that at €50,000 for this Opera version, the new DS 3 is far too expensive given its limited versatility (especially in terms of rear space) and, even if it does offer a top-of-the-range feel, it is competing head-on with cars with more advanced technology, greater range and performance and greater versatility. It's a shame, because this new DS 3 has many qualities for which it unfortunately costs far too much.