(Pocket-lint) - DS Automobiles has announced its second unique model - after the DS 7 Crossback - committing itself to an all-electric powertrain from the off.
An evolution of the popular DS 3 - which started life as a Citroën-badged car - the new model races into the popular compact SUV segment, offering chunky looks, on the road presence and great visibility, rivalling cars like the Audi Q2.
But the interesting thing about this model is that DS Automobiles is launching it with an electric version alongside more standard petrol and diesel. Rather than designing a completely new EV, with EV looks, it's going to be offering the advantages of an electric powertrain in a car that's very much conventional. It will be called the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.
We say that it's much more conventional, but this is DS we're talking about; with its leaning toward French luxury and some distinctive styling points, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense promises to be one of the more renegade EVs on the road when it hits the streets in 2019 and dare we say it, one of the more interesting.
Like the ageing Kia Soul EV, or the more recent Hyundai Kona Electric, DS Automobiles is giving you everything the "normal" car gets, but without the internal combustion engine. The electric powertrain is integrated into the body, the battery running under the floor and the motor sitting in the front so you don't lose boot space.
There are some tempting specs too: it packs in a 50kWh battery promising around 186 miles (WLTP) of range, with the motor generating 100kW, or 136hp. That will give you a 0-62 time of 8.7 seconds, which isn't blisteringly fast, but at the same time, it's fast enough for normal people and we suspect the torque will mean that off-the-line speed will make for a nippy urban drive.
And it's normal people who are likely to buy the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. It's likely to be one of the more affordable EVs on the road, escaping the premium offerings of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes, and mixing it alongside the Hyundai Kona or the Nissan Leaf.
What this E-Tense really offers though is buckets of style. There are customisation options galore, trim levels and leather detailing you won’t get elsewhere; there are premium design features available that some won't offer at this level, like the flush door handles that pop out as you approach the car (like a Tesla), and interior design that's entertainingly different.
Switchgear and buttons are designed to be different, taking that diamond patterning that DS loves and applying it everywhere. While we're sure there will be plenty of conventional EVs with mass-market appeal appearing in the next fear years, we can see that the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense will offer something unique, something a little more interesting.
The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is built on PSA's new platform - CMP - with this new electric version (E-CMP) likely to be shared across the group, with Citroën already confirming it will have an EV on the platform in 2020.
You'll get the sort of convenience features that appeal in the E-Tense, like app control of your car to set the temperature while it's still connected to the power, but connectivity runs further. You'll also be able to remotely access the car with a smartphone (it's an optional extra), with the owner granting permission to another. This could enable car sharing on one level, but could also allow someone access to your boot when you’re not with the car.
There are also plenty of safety features, with level 2 autonomy too, thanks to the adaptive cruise control and lane guidance systems, traffic sign detection and a whole lot more.
When the DS 7 Crossback launched we also saw DS Automobiles getting a bit carried away with lighting and that continues in the DS 3 Crossback: it carries the DS 3's signature vertical daytime running lights, but now offers LED Matrix lights which will adapt to the conditions and detect and adjust to other vehicles so no one gets dazzled. They sit in a distinct light assembly that looks great - and have been the preserve of high-end cars previously.
When it comes to charging the car, DS Automobiles say it will take 5 hours to charge on a 11kW charger - the sort you might have at home - but it will support faster charging from 100kW chargers, hitting 80 per cent in 30 minutes. The battery that it houses is liquid cooled, with a heat pump that not only conditions the battery, but also the cabin.
What we currently don't know about the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is the price. With Hyundai coming in at around £25,000, we're guessing that that's the sort of ballpark we might be looking at for the E-Tense model, although trim and the tech features will have an impact on the price.
It's due to be hitting the streets from late-2019 (exact date to be confirmed), but we can't help feeling that it's going to be mighty popular, as a practical everyday electric car.