Electrics are moving into the mainstream, and here’s yet another one that will fit the needs of a growing number of customers: French carmaker PSA is launching the DS3 Crossback E-Tense, a fully electric derivative of the conventionally powered DS3 Crossback. Both were launched at an event in Versailles last week.

Powered by a Continental-supplied 136-horsepower electric motor that drives the front wheels, the DS3 Crossback E-Tense reaches 100 kph in a respectable 8,7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 93 mph – a bit slower in acceleration than the BMW i3 and significantly slower than the Tesla Model 3.

That’s not great for Germany, with its unlimited Autobahnen, but it is sufficient for virtually every other market in the world – particularly since DS is adamant the car will be able to sustain its terminal velocity until it runs out of charge. That’s in stark contrast to Tesla, whose models typically fail to deliver peak performance for more than a few minutes.

The DS3 Crossback E-Tense will be able to get around 200 miles on a full charge (though not at full speed), measured in the new and ultra-challenging European cycle. On a fast-charge station, it can be recharged to 80 per cent within a half hour. Actually, PSA had considered offering a version with less battery capacity, but the brand says that their top priority is changing the perception of electrics as short-range vehicles. A lesser version may follow later.

Design and attention to detail is where this French crossover really shines. The interior is incredibly futuristic, down to details like the gear selector. There are no less than six trim levels, all of which feature a distinct look and top-notch materials. Every part looks and feels expensive, and quite simply, there is no electric on the market with a similarly well-executed interior.

Fit and finish are exemplary

Tesla’s models, in particular, are cobbled together with low-quality parts, but the DS3 Crossback also eclipses the funky BMW i3 and other electrics. There’s a plethora of electronic assistance systems, and the DS3 Crossback E-Tense can be specified with a head-up display – another feature sorely missed in its competitors.

Okay, the flush door handles look like they’ve been taken straight from Tesla. But in the DS3 Crossback, they move out electrically, a design that beats the cheap, mechanical system of the Model 3. And unlike on the Model S, they move out at an easy-to-grab angle. The matrix LED headlights are a marvel of technology and style, and the taillights are three-dimensional. The sharkfin B-pillar is a reminiscence of the smaller DS3, PSA’s conventionally powered Mini competitor that will go out of production in a year or so.

Individualisation is what DS is great at: Beyond the six interior styles, the DS3 Crossback comes with a choice of ten exterior colours, ten wheel styles and three different roof colours. It’s a level of complexity other carmakers have failed to achieve.

Priced at close to 40,000 euros without any rebates, the DS3 Crossback E-Tense comes to market in mid-2019. It will compete directly with the ageing BMW i3, and it significantly undercuts the more powerful but deeply flawed Tesla Model 3, which currently retails on the US market for upwards from USD 49,000 (its promised entry-level version for USD 35,000 is a piece of fiction).

PSA, by the way, has announced its intent to move into the US market. We wouldn’t be surprised if this strategy were spearheaded by the upmarket DS brand, which was spun off Citroën in 2016.

And here’s perhaps the ultimate advantage of the DS3 Crossback: If you have not bought into the gospel of the EV, you can also get it with a range of highly efficient diesel and gasoline engines – from EUR 25,000 upwards.

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