So, beat me up, why don’t you! I make no apology for questioning the viability of the DS brand, as I would not be doing my job, were I to accept its inception blindly. However, DS7 woke me from my torpor. Inescapably French, from its revolving dashboard clock, to its dancing headlamps array, it was and is a car that is as Gallic as Gauloises cigarettes and grands fromage from the Massif Central.
Its baby brother joins the fray, in DS3 Crossback guise. There is almost no other more appropriate place in which to photograph the car but the centre of the French capital, Paris. Avoiding the gilets jaunes but revelling in the mid-19th Century backdrop of Georges-Eugene Haussman and his view of ‘modern’ Paris, the DS3 Crossback is an antidote to up-market design tendencies that lack integrity and national identity.
Taking personalisation as its core attribute, no less than five main trim variants are available from the outset (prices start at £21,550, prior to discounting): DS Montmartre, DS Bastille, DS Performance Line, DS Rivoli, DS Opera and, for an ultimate expression, with La Première Limited Edition (laden to the gunwales with gear from £32,450). Mixing and matching colours and materials inside as well as outside the car, DS has taken an haut couture route to meeting individual ownership tastes and requirements.
Crack open the flush-mounted and powered door-handles and the interior décor creates a chic, modern finish in grained or full-grain Nappa leather with ‘Art Leather’ detailing, top-stitching in a pearl, or diamond, pattern, with braided textiles, Alcantara elements, a steering wheel fully upholstered in full-grain leather including the airbag cushion and chrome trim features with a Paris Hobnail guilloche design. Oh, come on! This is what French cars have been crying out for over the past 30 years.
Externally, specific notes, such as the signatures on the bonnet and lower doors, or the chrome trim, feature at the front and at the rear of DS3 Crossback with a choice of gloss, satin or textured shimmering black finishes. Inevitably, because even the most talented of designers understand subtlety, the coherent Frenchness is carried over in the central console, which is inherited from the DS7 Crossback. Elegant and stylish, its gearbox controls, toggle switches and electric handbrake meet day-to-day occupant needs, with a smartphone charging pad, an array of storage compartments that include cup-holders and a broad, functional sliding centre armrest.
Three petrols (101, 131, 155bhp), a turbo-diesel (102bhp) and a future all-electric (136bhp) powertrain motivate DS3 Crossbacks, which drive through a manual 6-speed gearbox in base petrol and diesel forms but 8-speed fully-automatic transmissions for the higher-power petrols and the forthcoming EV. If these read like odd choices, they are as much to with market shift as they are with reducing CO2 emissions levels.