FRENCH premium brand DS is going for a wider audience with its latest DS 3 Crossback SUV.
Targeting the booming compact crossover market, the newcomer is very much a baby version of the DS 7 Crossback which was launched in 2018.
Style is paramount to DS and it's a company that plays on its French heritage with high end design features inside and out.
There's fine stitching in the trim, avant garde themes in the looks and names such as Montmartre, Bastille and Rivoli among the car's six styling options.
Francophiles will love it and among the clutch of new compact crossovers it's up with the likes of the Audi Q2 and MINI Countryman.
Prices start from £21,550 for a 100bhp manual petrol model and currently top out at £33,950 for a more powerful 155bhp eight speed petrol automatic in a special and fully kitted La Premiere launch edition trim.
At 13ft 6ins long it is some 18 inches shorter than the DS 7 and almost three inches shorter than the Audi with boot space in normal set up of 350 litres. That's smaller than its competitors although with the rear seats folded that extends to 1,050 litres.
Cabin space however is par for the course and two adults will be comfortable in the rear although three would be on the tight side.
DS is currently offering 15 different versions of its baby Crossback with a choice of three 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engines and a single 100bhp 1.5 BlueHDi diesel which is priced from £23,700.
By the end of the year the line up will be expanded to include E-Tense electric versions which will have a range of around 200 miles and come in the main trim levels priced from £33,350.
We have just tried out two versions of the DS 3 Crossback in basic diesel configuration and high specification trim powered by the 155bhp petrol engine.
Both live up to their premium status and drive without issue with the diesel exhibiting good mid-range pull and the petrol a smooth and refined experience.
Fuel economy from both was excellent with the diesel returning an average of 61.2mpg against an official 62.7mpg and the petrol a very creditable 54.9 to the gallon compared to its WLTP best rating of 45.7mpg. Emissions are rated at 97g/km and 121g/km respectively.
While the petrol version had longer legs - reflected by its 8.2 seconds 0 to 60 acceleration and top speed of 129mph compared to 11.4 seconds and 112mph for the diesel - neither was lacking in everyday use.
Where the DS 3 Crossback impresses is with its looks which dare to be different with the body lines cleaned up by retractable door handles which fold flush as soon as the car is under way.
Inside there is a pyramid theme to the design of the switchgear, a classy touch and the dash can be finished off in a variety of coverings including Alcantara and Nappa leather.
High end Ultra Prestige trim includes DS's trademark ‘watchstrap' leather upholstery while the car sits on larger 18-inch alloys and comes with LED Matrix headlights, a head up display and a massaging function for the front seats.
All versions have a comprehensive list of safety features including lane keeping, emergency braking and speed sign recognition while higher grade models get a reversing camera and blind spot monitors.
In this price bracket DS is pushing the boat out when it comes to luxury touches and flair.
It is comfortable, capable and classy and in its league a breath of fresh air - especially for those who want a car with a touch of French fancy.