DS Crossback Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Tuesday 3rd October


What is it like to drive?

The three-cylinder engine is as chirpy as ever, and not held back much by having an auto strapped to it, as the eight-speeder is usually willing to shift down. The 130bhp version is torquey in the low to mid ranges, and is enough for most jobs, even big gradients at motorway speed. When it's not being flogged, it burbles away in the background.

The 155bhp version finds more poke at high revs, but it doesn't transform the experience.

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We've also tried a prototype of the full-electric one, called E-Tense. The stats: 136bhp, a 50kWh battery, 200 miles range WLTP, half an hour to change to 80 per cent on 100kW. There's proper blended braking and heat-pump climate control, in the hopes of hitting that test-range in real life, whatever the weather.

It's a well-developed thing already, able to roll along with liquid smoothness at traffic jam speeds, and zap away without fuss or torque steer. Mind you, at higher speed the motor power tails off, and it's fighting a 300kg weight gain over the petrol car. Modes labelled eco, comfort and sport give different power levels, and you can choose more braking regeneration too. Both electric and friction braking feel natural.

They hadn't done chassis tuning on the E-Tense prototype, so back to the petrol car now.

The chassis is soft, and rides well over isolated bumps at all speeds. In this relatively tall car, you feel the roll and pitch, and a sudden crest will send things into mild float.

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Because the steering is relatively sharp, you need to be careful to ease it into bends, or the roll can get out of phase with your inputs. Go smoothly and you'll be rewarded with useful progress. It doesn't understeer much, there's good traction in tight bends and unexpected chassis feedback in quicker ones.

But usual crossover rules apply: if this stuff matters to you, buy a hatchback. You can get a nice (and biggish) one for DS 3 money.

The driver assist and lane-keeping are pretty alert and well-calibrated as these things go. Keep them on in the background and they'll ease the strain, but relying on them is more nerve-wracking than doing the job yourself.

Better to spend money on the excellent matrix LED headlamps, the sort where you leave them on high beam and they automagically cast shadows around other cars so's not to dazzle.

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