ds we can | 

French style at its finest on show again with the smallest car in the DS range

The DS3 Crossback oozes style and flare...and drives well too

The DS3 Crossback interior is covered in diamond-shaped details

Daragh Keany

The only two problems DS has right now is that not enough people know what it is. And a large percentage of those who do know the brand naively still think it is just a Citroen with a different badge.

But this stand-alone car brand, which went solo in 2009, has no problems when it comes to its range. There aren't many options yet but those that are available to Irish buyers are all magnifique and should be taken seriously.

I got behind the wheel of the smallest in the range last month and my initial worries about whether or not it can hold a torch to the big brother DS7 were quickly allayed.

It is still oozing in French class and yet still priced right ,allowing us all to feel it is attainable. Cost-effective premium car brands! What a novel idea.

This is a far cry from the original 3-door sporty hatchback launched to take on the might of the Mini and its peers.

For starters, it has two extra doors and is now more of a compact crossover than a super mini but don't be fooled into thinking it is large in size. It really isn't. It is delightfully quaint and perfectly styled but really shouldn't be classed as a compact crossover leading to some people maybe believing they are going to get more space than they actually are. Not a criticism. Just a statement of fact.

This beauty comes with oodles of distinctive French flair with the now-obligatory diamond shaped detailing throughout. It is perfectly able to hold its own in a clustered market that is rammed with cars that are hard to differentiate from one another. Pricing for this kicks in at €30,165 and you can go all the way up to €39,373 for the E-Tense electric version.

The DS3 Crossback interior is covered in diamond-shaped details

My test car for the week was the Elegance trim 1.2 PureTech petrol with an 8-speed automatic transmission which came in a platinum grey metallic paint job. For this impressive car to be sitting in your driveway all you would need is €35,265, which sounds like a lot for a car of this size. But when you consider the premium finish on all of the features and surfaces it really is god value.

You also get a lot of bang for your euro. There's a Visio Park RearView HD camera, front and back parking sensors, reversing camera, full safety pack, tyre pressure monitoring system (an underrated feature nowadays), keyless start, automatic air conditioning with an odour filter and both sun visors come with LED courtesy mirrors.

The adjustable and heated front seats come with comfort foam and pads and map pockets. The rear seats accommodate two ISOFIX mounting points and offer decent space, but don't expect comfort for a third rear passenger.

There is a seven-inch digital instrument cluster and a complementing seven-inch touchscreen. It is fully compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and even though it is a small enough car there are eight speakers throughout to bounce the sound around.

The 1.2-litre PureTech engine is a joy to drive and moves happily through the gears and loves to be driven quickly thanks to its turbocharger. It sounds fast too. Some people might be put off by the noise, but I loved it.

You could, of course, opt for the EV version if the sound isn't for you but you should know that the combustion engine means it is lighter and therefore you get a much more nimble car when it comes to driving and cornering.

I loved everything about this and hated dropping it back. I did have to explain it to a lot of people through the week and I found myself getting super defensive about it at times.

The more people that know about them the more people will choose them. I am fully onboard with the DS styling and engine options. It's time everyone else gets onboard too.

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