It doesn’t happen all that often, but the latest confection from DS Automobiles has your correspondent utterly confounded.
I don’t know. I genuinely don’t. What does one say nowadays, when every recent new car announcement feels like another assault? Does there come a point when through exhaustion or simple attrition, one is forced to simply lie down and accept the paradigm for what it is? I don’t know any more.
How come, you may ask? Simply because PSA have launched their newest DS-branded vehicle, and it has rendered me speechless.
Yes of course it’s an inevitable compact crossover, that most pointless, overhyped, marketing-led of all vehicle types, and yes of course it has been styled to hell and back again. This is to be expected and given DS Automobiles’ (to dignify them with their given name) stylistic track record, especially so, but there is something else at play here that I’m at a loss to articulate.
To my mind, the manner in which today’s crossovers are conceived appear to have a good deal in common with a certain archetype of Hollywood film – the kind where the producers cobble together a ‘treatment’ – “It’s Taxi Driver meets The bridges of Madison County, meets Snakes on a Plane – but with a twist.” It isn’t really that difficult a leap to envisage a similar refrain taking place at senior product strategy level amidst many contemporary carmakers.
Today’s crop of crossovers meld the jolt of the familiar with cues and tropes which haven’t quite been seen together in polite company before. Perhaps then the analogy is less like film making and more like contemporary gastronomy?
In a backhanded way, one can sympathise with DS’ designers. After all, they were given a brief and they executed it. Part of which was probably to achieve stand-out in what is becoming the most competitive and noisy market sector of all. And in that, we can probably all coalesce around the notion that they have succeeded, because what we can say with some conviction is that this new DS crossover is distinctive.
If one is to ignore the heritage (and I suppose we now have little choice but to do just that), there are some pleasing details, especially within the cabin, which attempts to do something interesting with colour, materials and surfaces. One could even view it as an attempt to provide the kind of indulgent city car we espoused here recently.
I’m not particularly interested in delving into the minutiae of the Crossback’s exterior styling – I leave that to my esteemed colleague, whose dissertation upon this subject (I believe) will follow shortly. Because while it’s tempting to give it a thorough kicking and be done, I hesitate simply because I simply don’t really know what I think any more.
What I will say is that with the DS 3 Crossback, PSA have gone beyond mere styling, plopped through the looking glass and have arrived somewhere else entirely. I’m not even sure that it even has a name. Let’s (for the sake of argument) call it Post-Design. You may have a better, stronger or clearer idea, but right now, that’s really the best I can come up with.