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In-depth reviews

DS 3 E-Tense review: interior, dashboard & comfort

With prices for top models surpassing £42,000 before a single option is added, rivals offer significantly better value for money

Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

Interior, dashboard & comfort rating

2.5 out of 5

Fuel Type:
Electric

You’ll either love or loathe the DS 3 E-Tense’s cabin: 'quirky' is probably the best word to describe it. The dashboard is laid out in a diamond formation, with most of the buttons residing below the new central touchscreen that came as part of the car’s recent facelift. The layout isn’t as complicated as it looks; the switches all do what you’d expect them to do, and connecting your phone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is relatively simple.

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Parts of the DS 3’s interior do feel over-designed, however. You’ll find the window switches on the centre console rather than on the doors, for example, and the big block of plastic trim obscuring over-the-shoulder visibility is the definition of form taking precedence over function. 

DS 3 E-Tense dashboard

DS is targeting the premium class, and the DS 3’s interior design, for the most part, feels special enough to meet the criteria. There’s high-quality material on the doors and dashboard, and the fit and finish overall is very good. It’s amazing how a bit of suede trim on the dashboard and some other small touches can make a cabin feel as upmarket as the DS 3’s does.

Equipment, options & accessories

Just like the petrol-powered model, the DS 3 E-Tense is now available in four trim levels: Performance Line, Performance Line+, Rivoli and Opera. Prices start from over £37,000, however top spec models are priced at nearly £42,000 – just a few thousand pounds shy of the excellent Tesla Model Y. For a small electric SUV, the DS 3 doesn’t offer the best value for money.

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Performance Line comes with 17-inch alloys, 10.3-inch touchscreen, digital driver’s display, rear parking sensors, keyless start, LED headlights, Alcantara upholstery, power-folding and heated mirrors, acoustic windscreen and DS’ Safety Pack. Upgrading to Performance Line+ adds 18-inch alloy wheels, 3D navigation system, aluminium sport pedals, keyless entry and frameless rear view mirror.

Rivoli spec models feature leather and chrome for a more luxury-focused atmosphere. Finally, Opera cars, like the one we drove, get everything DS can throw at it, including the company’s famous watch-strap-style heated and massaging leather seats, a head-up display, wireless phone charging, 360-degree camera system. These models also feature the Advanced Safety Pack with blind-spot detection and adaptive cruise control.

DS ownership does offer some additional perks. There’s no Tesla Supercharger-style charging network, but DS talks at length about its boutique stores, simple and customer-centric aftersales scheme, and ‘Only You’ benefits that give owners access to money-can’t-buy cultural, art, and gastronomy experiences. Whether it’s worth the price premium the DS 3 commands over rivals from Kia or Cupra is up to you.

Infotainment, apps & sat nav

All DS 3s now come ready to roll with a new high-definition 10.3-inch touchscreen. In comparison, pre-facelift cars in lower specifications used to make do with an offset seven-inch display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are still standard, too, and you can now use the MyDS app to remotely start charging sessions, pre-heat the cabin on cold days and send sat nav destinations from your phone to the car’s navigation system.

The new touchscreen is more responsive than before and the updated operating system itself is pretty slick, with smartphone-style menus that work relatively well. However, the touch-sensitive buttons used for controlling many functions are still incredibly frustrating to use and being forced to delve into the touchscreen to change the cabin temperature or fan speed is frustrating.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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