I drove chic new DS 3 – it’s £25k motor that trades on luxury over performance

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TEASED at Paris Fashion Week and flaunted at the Paris Motor Show, the new DS has finally left the catwalk and hit the actual road.

Sounds like a lot of fuss for a face-lifted model.

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It’s not sporty but given this is a small car that trades on luxury vibes over performance, it’ll doCredit: Porsche

But it does look chic.

Flashy new vertical LEDs bookend a more angular grille and some sharper aerodynamic accoutrements give it a more chiselled jawline.

Another identity tweak is the deletion of the cumbersome “Crossback” in its name, instead spelling out DS Automobiles in stainless steel across the width of the tailgate.

Reducing (or streamlining, as the car companies like to say) the trim levels on offer is another trend DS follows.

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Opera trim takes the luxury spoils, featuring heated massage seats with a striking watchstrap design, head-up display, wireless phone charging and 18in diamond-cut alloy wheels.

But even in its most frugal guise that starts at less than £25k – which is now the once-sporty mid-spec Performance Line – it includes plenty of nice touches as standard.

These include flush-fitting door handles that pop out to greet you as you approach the car, gloss-black wing mirrors, keyless start and a chunky, perforated black leather steering wheel.

Sadly, the diesel engine that was available in the last DS 3 Crossback has been given the chop.

So it’s now only a petrol or fully electric drivetrain, but usefully both are available in all trims.

Although it took a while, it seems the world is waking up to DS

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Although it took a while, it seems the world is waking up to DSCredit: Porsche

Of the two 1.2-litre petrol engines, the most potent one now only pushes out 120hp and is mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

It’s not sporty but given this is a small car that trades on luxury vibes over performance, it’ll do.

What pleases more is the notably comfortable and quiet ride this jacked-up supermini has on the motorway.

The cheapest petrol engine has even less punch at 100hp but it has retained a six-speed manual gearbox.

DS 3s have always been more popular with petrol engines plumbed in them.

But it’s hoped by the French firm that the battery-powered version with its spanking new electric motor will turn the tide and achieve an equal sales split.

Although at a nearly £10k premium and offering zero visual differentiation beyond the E-tense badge on the back, I’m not so sure.

In top Opera spec that racks the price up to a lofty £42,700 – and that’s before options.

That said, the refinement of the silent electric ride really suits the DS 3’s luxurious intentions.

And it’s appreciably nippier, too, with a range of up to 270 miles and taking just 30 minutes to recharge from a 100kW rapid charger (or just over seven hours from a 7kW home wall box).

The nicely supportive seats in posh materials, including aged Nappa leather and alcantara, grace the front row but leg room in the back is still in short supply.

The infotainment software has been given a welcome boost and the 10.3in touchscreen, though physically no bigger, has a greater screen area thanks to the dumping of the buttons that flanked it.

This nipped-and-tucked baby SUV may not be the best example of where the brand is heading but the DS marque is definitely going places.

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Last year it shifted 17 per cent more motors than ever, both in Europe and worldwide.

Although it took a while, it seems the world is waking up to DS.

KEY FACTS: DS 3

  • Price: £24,955
  • Engine: 1.2-litre petrol turbo
  • Power: 100hp, 205Nm
  • 0-62mph: 10.9 secs
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy: 45mpg
  • CO2: 128g/km
  • Out: Now

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