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Citroen DS3 road test report

Citroen DS3

Citroen has pitched the prices of its DS3 very competitively against its main rival, the Mini. The French company also says used values for the DS3 will be stronger than those for a Fiat 500, but that remains to be seen. Every DS comes with alloy wheels, electric front windows, and CD stereo with MP3 connection, and this is the specification for the entry-level DSign model.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Citroen DS3

Image number 2 of the Citroen DS3Image number 3 of the Citroen DS3Image number 4 of the Citroen DS3

Performance Performance - 4 stars

The Citroen DS3 offers everything from sensible to sensational to cater for buyers considering this good-looking premium supermini. Citroen reckons 60% of buyers will choose a petrol engine and they can pick from 1.4- and 1.6-litre non-turbo engines with 95- and 120bhp that offer 0-62mph in 10.4- and 8.9 seconds respectively. This pair comes with five-speed manual gearboxes and are decently brisk figures when compared to the DS3’s rivals such as the Mini, Fiat 500, Alfa Romeo Mito and Volkswagen Beetle. Go for the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol and you get 150bhp, 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and acceleration in any gear and at any speed to keep up with all but the swiftest hot hatch. The turbo’s six-speed manual gearbox has an accurate change, underlining the DS3’s much improved driving manners of most Citroen’s of the past decade. On the diesel front, there are three versions of the 1.6-litre HDi turbodiesel. There are two 90bhp motors attached to five-speed manual ’boxes, one producing 104g/km of carbon dioxide that covers 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and the other emitting 99g/km of CO2 that requires 11.5 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint. For the sake of 0.2 seconds, the financial saving offered by the aptly named 99g model is the better bet, especially as this pair cost exactly the same. Topping the diesel range is the 110bhp 1.6 HDi motor that produces 118g/km of carbon dioxide and takes 9.8 seconds for 0-62mph.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

It may be based on the same basic platform as the recently introduced C3 hatch, but the DS3 is a markedly different car to drive. Citroen is renowned for the comfortable ride of its cars, but the DS3 takes a different approach and the way it deals with lumps and bumps has more in common with the Mini that the DS3 shares many of its engine line-up. There’s no slop or lean through corners in the DS3. Instead, there’s fine control with a firm but controlled ride. In town, though, the DS3’s suspension still has enough give to make it an ideal urban runaround. On the open road, the DS3 is not quite as agile or adept as a Mini or Ford Fiesta, but it’s still more than entertaining enough to plaster a big smile on the driver’s chops. The manual gearbox has a slick action and the steering feel has been carefully honed to give decent sensation without being heavy at parking speeds. Citroen has also managed to make the DS3 refined when cruising yet there’s just enough crackle from the exhaust when the engines are revved hard to let the driver know this is a supermini with a sporting bent.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

If Citroen wants to be considered alongside the likes of the Mini and Fiat 500, this is an area where the French firm has to excel, and it does. Everywhere you look outside or inside of the DS3, it has the appearance of a car put together with care and great attention to detail. All of the exterior panels have even shut lines, while inside all of the surfaces are neatly finished and butt up against each other with precision. All of the cabin materials chosen for the DS3 also reflect its move into the premium supermini sector. As for the engines and other mechanical parts, these are all proven units used in other Citroen models and also the Mini, so we have no concerns that the DS3 will last well in use. Citroen is even so confident of the car’s durability that it has introduced 18,000-mile service intervals for the DS3.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

There’s no faulting the safety and security kit crammed into the DS3. Every model comes with six airbags and ESP traction and stability control as standard. There’s also brake force distribution to keep the car tracking in a straight line in emergency braking situations, while Isofix child seat mounts keep young children safely in place. Security is taken care of by an alarm and immobiliser fitted to all DS3 models, and deadlocks are also included.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Compared to some mainstream supermini models, including Citroen’s own C3, the DS3 does not provide the best boot or rear seat space. However, look at the DS3 next to the likes of the Mini and Fiat 500 and it morphs into one of the biggest and most accommodating cars in its niche market. Two adults can just about fit into the rear seats, though it’s tight on knee and head space, and the third rear seat belt is optimistic even if it’s three children sitting in the back. The boot offers 285-litres of space, which shames most of its premium supermini rivals and this can be extended to 980-litres with the 60/40 split and tip rear seats folded flat. Up front, the driver is treated to a comfortable seating position with height adjustment in the seat and steering wheel, and there wheel can also be moved for reach. All-round vision is good from the driver’s seat and the neat dash is easy to suss and use.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Citroen has pitched the prices of its DS3 very competitively against its main rival, the Mini. The French company also says used values for the DS3 will be stronger than those for a Fiat 500, but that remains to be seen. Every DS comes with alloy wheels, electric front windows, and CD stereo with MP3 connection, and this is the specification for the entry-level DSign model. Next up is the DStyle version that includes rear privacy glass, air conditioning and the distinctive LED daytime driving lights set into the scalloped ducts either side of the front bumper. The top spec model is the DSport that has climate control, Bluetooth connection and carbon fibre-effect trim inserts in the cabin. All of the engines in the DS3 range have low emissions for their power and performance abilities, with the 99g model offering free road tax and 72.4mpg. Even the high performance 1.6 THP model with its 150bhp turbo petrol engine manages CO2 emissions of 155g/km and 42.1mpg. A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is backed up by 18,000-mile service intervals and, coupled to Citroen’s very reasonable labour rates, the DS3 should not be a drain on the finances to own and run.

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