The Crossback of Amsterdam

During a pleasant, early morning walk in Amsterdam, a surprise first viewing.

New DS3 Crossback – front 4/5 view

Apologies for the poor level of just-about-everything about the photos, but, I came across my first DS3 Crossback whilst on a recent work trip to Amsterdam and felt a compulsion to record the event on my phone. I am always terribly self-conscious when taking street-photos of other people’s cars like this, so I got it over with as soon as I could, resulting in this rather sorry gathering of pictures.

Let’s get it out of the way immediately and re-state my previously expressed opinion, which is that I don’t like this car. So, if you disagree/ feel differently and don’t want to read another negative review on DTW, then you should probably move on to something else.

That said, this car does have presence. At least, this particular car did.  Perhaps it was the colour which caught my eye, or the slightly discombobulating mix of bloated, soft-profiled forms and rampant feature-creases, or the sparkly shards of chrome? I am not sure, but it certainly stood out.

Apologies to the lady passing-by. Nice colour (the car …)

Not in a very good way, though.

Has any car of this size (it’s the same size as the C3 Aircross, or a bit bigger than a C3 Picasso) ever been so over-styled? Again, apologies for the photos, but just look at that above. The riot of reflections articulates the number of diverse feature-lines and sculptured curves which bend and cross so busily. These swamp the volume of the turret, which itself is then invaded by the wretched shark-fin, which we know by now is a critical part of the DS DNA (except for when that DS is the 7 Crossback).

The front is dominated by the puffed-out chromed grille and weakly defined headlamps, set-off by the ‘tears of a clown’ effect DRLs. Then there is the just irritating duplication of the DS badging – a large escutcheon slapped in the middle of the grille, topped by the smaller, engraved lozenge at the leading edge of the bonnet, just in case you didn’t notice the former, no doubt.

Here’s the rear …

DS3 Crossback from the rear – I like the exhaust embellishers

… which again just highlights the narrow profile of the rear window.  Imagine how little of it is cleared in a semi-circle by that pathetically small ‘bidet’ as a result. I like a bit of chrome on my cars, but the way that the strips under the rear lamps abut the central strip looks clumsy to my eyes.

And then there is that nonsense DS DS3 badging thing going on. And after that, what is the point of the cheap looking plastic plugs which fill the fake air-vents exiting the wheel arches? Naff all!

I do like (rejoice!) the exhaust embellishers, though.

I couldn’t bring myself to poke my phone close to the side windows to get a shot of the interior, but it does manage to look better than the exterior, even though I have reservations about the diamond motif itself (Renault, do you not care?), and the ergonomic qualities of the nature and form of the switch-gear.

Overall, the DS3 Crossback is a tragedy of form over substance. So much styling for so little purpose. So many tricks and flicks for so little overall effect. I cannot see anyone choosing one over a CX-3, T-Cross, C3 Aircross, MINI Countryman, or Q2 … none of which I like very much at all in any case.

PSA thinks that DS is like haute-couture, but it must be kidding itself, especially when what lies beneath all the diamante image is so unsophisticated and banal. Having observed many recently, I think the two Peugeot SUVs and the 508 would make a better job of being DSs – they have that glossy design look in a more effortless fashion and the same extends to their interiors.

They should have killed this DS artifice at the point which they bought Opel/ Vauxhall, and left the world to its fond memories of what a DS was in the first place.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

33 thoughts on “The Crossback of Amsterdam”

    1. The absurd diamond shaped buttons grouped in diamond shaped patterns grouped haphazardly around diamond shaped face vents. How do you find anything quickly in that mess ?

      … pig farm… quick, hit the recirc button…

      I get that the original DS had a bunch of unlabelled controls scattered about the dash, but at least they weren’t all grouped together in some geometric, but completely un-ergonomic pattern.

    2. Angel: nonsense is too kind a word. That´s the silliest looking set of controls since the flight deck of the Millennium Falcon. It looks as if it was designed by Christian Lacroix. I don´t even think it manages to look that good either. If I am being generous, at least they tried. Overall, this car is like the 1959 Cadillacs (which, off the top of my head) were the zenith of the tailfins – all ostentation and razzle-dazzle and very little actual car (well, they had those mighty engines). Thanks for alerting me to that little gem of over-styling.

    3. Richard, for Cadillac, 1958 was peak chrome, and 1959 was peak tailfins.

      The 1958 Cadillac models were judged a failure and 1959 got an extensive restyle several years earlier than planned.

      The one element of exterior styling interest for the 1959/60 Cadillacs, for me, (given my obscure interest in shared body stampings across brands), is that the doors were shared with the 59/60 Buicks as a cost saving measure.

      I never would have noticed, without being told.

  1. Good morning, S.V. Looking at your photos above, particularly the rear three-quarter one, my overriding impression is of a quite neat car (represented by the turret) sinking into a gloopy blue-green slime that’s threatening to submerge it completely (that fin creeping up the side of the DLO). It’s not a good look, terribly overwrought. I don’t even know what to call it: is it a DS3, a DS 3, or a DS DS3? What is Crossback supposed to mean? It alludes to crossover, but this is just a hatchback. Awful!

    1. I believe it was ‘Citroën DSX’ when they were still with their mother and then changed to ‘DS X’ when DS became the brand. But with the confusing badging we can never be sure, and I wouldn’t be surprised if even the company itself knew different spellings.
      It reminds me a bit of the time when one wasn’t sure if it’s ‘Renault 5’ or ‘Renault R5’.

      Nice description of the design concept, by the way!

  2. DS also seems to be struggling to define a house style for its vehicles. The DS3 Crossback is (mainly) rounded and organic, so completely different from the sharp, geometric DS7 Crossback that could easily be a Lexus:

    1. Yep, that looks like the love child of an RX and an Audi Q5. Nice colour, though.

    2. Certainly better than the DS3, but hardly distinctive. The sail panel treatment and panel gap above the trailing edge of the headlamp are unsatisfactory.

  3. Oh my, oh my… Luckily, I’ve so far been spared the experience of this sight.

    What I do see sometimes, however is its bigger brother the DS 7. They seem to be popular with rental car companies from what I can tell. ‘Presence’ is also something that I can see in the larger car. Now an SUV of this size wears this presence with some more self-assuredness than a little wart like the DS 3, and it shows. It doesn’t have to resort to excessive ornamentation to achieve this effect. A little overstyling there is, and it can not quite belie the banal shape, but at least it has OKish proportions and stance. The rear lights are actually quite nice. I’d still rather have the exterior of a 3008 with the nice interior fabrics of the C5 Aircross. All that leather, stitching and chrome is just too tasteless.

    1. Agree! I rather like the interior of the C5 Aircross, it’s colours, fabrics and materials. It’s also that bit more honest than the DS7.

    1. Certainly, but perhaps the progenitor of the Rococo style, Baroque, might describe the DS3 Crossback even better? Baroque is defined in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as follows:

      “Baroque was at first an undisguised term of abuse, probably derived from the Italian word barocco, which was a term used by philosophers during the Middle Ages to describe an obstacle in schematic logic. Subsequently, this became a description for any contorted idea or involuted process of thought.”

  4. It seems that ‘premium’ means abandoning ergonomic good sense.

    The dashboard and control interface is indeed a mess, but that weird bodywork protrusion at the leading edge of the rear doors really, really annoys me. It looks stupid and just blocks out the view for rear seat passengers.

    1. What did they do to the Cactus? Shark fins? A facelift that ruined the car? Perhaps the latter, I guess.
      Anyway, I never saw the point of having a backwards swimming shark at the side of a vehicle.

    2. Simon, I understand that the ‘fin is meant to be a nod to the shape of the rear pillar on the real DS … it’s just a mystery as to why the DS3 designers thought it would be a good idea to move it forward to the B-pillar …?

  5. Actually, I think the “shark fin” C-pillar would be ok if it was visually attached to the bodywork below, in other words, if that lower black strip was absent.

    Like this:

    1. I had the same thought and was going to mention the new Corsa, which, if anything, sports more of a shark-like fin … as I say, I more recently heard that it’s not a shark-fin at all, but a reference to the real DS.

  6. Nissan Juke, Toyota C-HR, DS 3 Crossback – extremely overstyled, more fashion accessory than transport vehicle. In a curious way I have suddenly learned to like all three of them because they are all so true to their own insanity.

    (Do DSs sell well in France by the way?)

    1. I was always quite reluctant to accept the Juke and later the C-HR, and I still think the mix of bulky shapes and tiny windows is completely wrong. But after seeing this Crossback thing, I consider the former two rather coherent in their designs and perfectly acceptable. The Toyota is even quite interesting in its mysteriousness.

    2. Regarding sales in France: I recently saw a top 15 list of the sales by manufacturers. DS wasn’t included there.

    3. I have had the misfortune to be a passenger in the back of a Toyota C-HR and it is a hideous experience. Extremely dark and claustrophobic, your eye is repeatedly drawn to the acres of blank plastic and vinyl rather than outside.

      It is not a car for families. I honestly think my children would be happier in the back of a GT86.

    4. I have already mocked the tendency to produce cars with four doors, but clearly with only front passengers in mind. All the Jukes and C-HRs I ever see are used by single persons for their commuting. If they have a family, they probably have a proper car for them.

    5. I did read somewhere that the DS7 Crossback was the biggest seller in its class in France!? Not sure how it is defined in class terms – is it a Q3 or Q5 class competitor? It’s just that I expected the 3008 to be the biggest selling SUV/ CUV in France.

    6. The 3008 is on 4th place of the sales statistics in France for May 2019. DS 7 is nowhere… So it seems that it’s not considered the same class. My guess is that also the 5008 sells much better than the DS – at least in Switzerland I see lots of them.

    7. Simon, that’s what I mean. I find it very interesting how these three cars put each other in perspective.

      I disliked all of them at first. But I suddenly started seeing them in the same way I would see some blingy fashion accessory I was never the target group for. I appreciate how these cars express a certain aspect of our times in a way I find neither good nor bad, but interesting and profound.

      People have always been and will always be very willing to make large sacrifices for choosing what is perceived as trendy/beautiful/chic over what is functional. Otherwise we would all drive Dacia Dusters. And no woman in the world would walk around on high heeled shoes.

      It’s just us curious, Bauhaus entrenched enthusiasts who happen to have an overlapping definition of beauty and functionality. This is not and never will be the norm.

    8. Very well put, Max.

      It’s hard being an aesthete. If you are, nothing can ever be selected purely on the basis of its utility and value. Buying a new kettle for the kitchen requires extensive research and endless patience, to ensure one chooses the optimal combination of appearance and performance. (That’s the way it is in our house anyway!)

    9. Criteria for the kettle in my household were a large capacity, a rapid boiling time and a quiet but well-articulated form in white. I am not a must-be-monochrome extremist but there were other factors at play forcing a neutral tone. Braun eventually met the requirements and won the contract to supply us with one kettle with which we are very pleased.

  7. The Hatchback of Notre Dame.
    DS, Déesse is of course French for Goddess. Or is DS the Deep Sh*t this brand will remain in unless they hire some designers who have some understanding of form and some managers who can see past the chrome and the BS?

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