The E-Tense's extrovert exterior is matched by an equally eye-catching interior that makes the Kia e-Niro’s look as interesting as a caretaker's cupboard. DS clearly dug out all its most imaginative mood boards when coming up with the concept for the 3 Crossback, and this electric version is little different.
The dashboard has an unusual layout, with a tessellated pattern of diamond-shaped, touch-sensitive buttons and controls. Indeed, look around the interior and you'll see the diamond motif everywhere, from the air vents to the speakers. Unfortunately, while this makes for an eye-catching and unique design, it doesn’t translate to a particularly intuitive user experience.
Those touch-sensitive buttons provide no confirmation when you press them, tempting you to make a second attempt that’ll frustratingly cancel your initial stab. You’ll eventually get used to this quirk, but there’s no doubt that the e-Niro’s controls are far more user-friendly.
We prefer the e-Niro’s infotainment system, too. The E-Tense Performance line gets a 7.0in touchscreen, the Prestige a high-definition 10.0in version, and both cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and DAB radio. However, the system is laggy and generally fiddly to operate, and if you think you can avoid using it altogether, you can't – it also incorporates the climate controls. Meanwhile, the standard digital instrument display ahead of the driver is small but crisp, with handy readouts for how much battery charge you have and your approximate remaining range.
Because the E-Tense skips the entry-level DS3 Crossback trim, the materials you'll find inside are suitably plush. There are plenty of soft-touch areas around the dashboard, even if materials lower down are more durable than they are tactile. Everything feels well screwed together for the most part, but overall quality is still a step below that of the e-Niro.
There’s plenty of adjustment in the driving position, but neither electric seat adjustment nor adjustable lumbar support are offered on any E-Tense, even at extra cost. The seats themselves are soft and fairly comfy, but not that supportive in corners and some will find them on the narrow side.
Visibility, meanwhile, is poor for the class. The 3 Crossback's wide front pillars and the kink in its side window-line obstruct your view around corners and to the sides, while the thick rear pillars have the same effect on rearward vision. At least rear parking sensors are standard, with a rear-view camera optional.