It takes craftsmen and women 45 minutes on the production line to hand-stitch the steering wheel of the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.
In a world where speed and hi-tech have come to be the cutting edge, I am entranced by this piece of information and I gaze at the steering wheel before me with a lot more reverence. It is, I have to say, a thing of beauty but then most of this car is pretty gorgeous.
“We take our inspiration from the world of French haute couture,” said Kris Cholmondeley of DS Automobiles, the premium marque in the PSA range.
It seeks to align its cars with the very best of French fashion, food, wine and style so that DS cars will become the benchmark for those satisfied only with the best. And this car certainly plays its part.
The DS 3 is the smaller of the two SUVs in the range – the DS 7 is the big beast at the moment – but they both share the same distinctive styling.
There’s a big grille front with the DS wings standing proud in chrome, flush fitting handles, the rather lovely dancing lights system and big, beefy 18ins alloys. At the rear, it’s muscular and elegant.
It’s when you open the door of this small SUV however, that the ‘haute couture’ idea makes sense. It is plush, premium quality with diamond design cues everywhere from the quilting on the seats to the design on the chrome rocker switch you use to change the drive modes.
The Pebble Grey cloth contrasts beautifully with the black Nappa leather. The seats are massively comfortable with loads of legroom and controls close to the fingertips of your left hand so that everything is very plush – and easy.
To add to this feeling of privilege and wealth, the DS Crossback is exceedingly quiet – silent runnings – because it is an all-electric vehicle.
The E-TENSE version I am driving is the brand’s plug-in electric model with an electric motor located on the front wheels and driven by a 50kWh lithium-ion battery delivering 136PS that takes you to 62mph in just 8.7 seconds.
It is agile and balanced on the road with a range of around 200 miles – the magic figure the industry says allows drivers to relax about how often they have to charge up.
There is speed and there is silence as soon as you put your foot down, a combination that adds luxury to the drive feeling with, at the same time, zero emissions.
Information and entertainment are on a 10ins touchscreen on the dash with a 7ins instrument panel behind the steering wheel and a head-up display in front of you.
There’s nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB, wireless charging and voice recognition, cruise control, reversing cameras and sensors and hill start assist. The DS 3 Crossback even comes with an odour filter.
Boot space with the rear seats up is 350-litres and 1050-litres with them down.
There are various charging options for the battery including a rapid charge which with the right charger will get it to 80 per cent in 30 minutes. While driving you can put the car into B where the braking and deceleration intensify to allow you to recoup the energy.
With the DS app you can check on the charge, the range and the air con remotely – all very practical and sensible – with the bonus of extremely chic French styling.
Car reviewed: DS 3 E-Tense 50kWh Auto Performance Line, on the road price £33,990 0-62mph 8.7secs Top speed 93mph Engine electric motor Electric Range WLTP 191-206 miles CO2 emissions 194g/km Max Power 134bhp Torque 260Nm Transmission Single-speed auto, front-wheel drive
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