The DS3 hatchback and cabrio have been so popular in the UK that more have been sold than in its native France and worldwide more than 400,000. And now DS Automobiles, the posh, up market division of Citroen, has revamped and upgraded the cars with new styling touches and latest generation technology.
Only available as three-door models, the DS3, priced from £13,995, now more closely matches the looks of the bigger DS4 and DS5 models. A hexagonal grille with DS badge replaces the Citroen ‘double chevron’ and high level models get Xenon and LED lights and indicators.
The rear lights have been reshaped and there£€™s a choice of ten roof decals for the hatchback and four finishes for the Cabrio£€™s canvas roof. An expensive option is ‘watch-strap’ leather seats like the DS4 and DS5.
Better quality materials, well chosen colours and greater attention to detail means the DS3 feels much more up market than the£ Citroen C3 it£€™s based on. If you have driven a DS 3 before you will notice something missing in the cabin £€“ 20 buttons to be precise £€“ thanks to a large touch screen.
The screen shows up fingerprints and though it responds quicker than before it£€™s not mobile phone quick and scrolling through lists is haphazard. The system will run Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smart phone connectivity.
We found the satellite navigation system fiddly and it wasn£€™t easy to zoom in on maps. Please everyone fit a rotary control you can find by touch like an Audi. The radio volume controls are at the bottom of the centre console and need moving somewhere easier to reach.
The speedometer and most gauges are easy to take in at a glance. My back found the front seats pretty comfy though being tall I could have done with more steering wheel adjustment.
The DS3£€™s engine choice is unchanged with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol in three power outputs, two four-cylinder turbo petrols and two BlueHDi diesels. I tried a120bhp diesel Prestige trim Cabrio and a165bhp Prestige petrol hatch.
At £21,795 the car is pricey with options like Pearl White paint £880, a rev counter £200 and front seat armrest £100, but running costs should be low. The 1560cc four-cylinder engine delivers 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. Combined fuel consumption is 78.5mpg.
The ride is quite firm ride but not as stiff as the last Mini I tried. If you are going briskly the engine runs out of revs quite soon, as usual with a diesel, but the six-speed manual gearbox has a slicker change than the five-speeder.
You sit quite high which made me notice how many people sit so low they can barely see over the top of the steering wheel. Open the roof fully and it obscures the rear window so you have to rely on the door mirrors.
A wind deflector prevents buffeting and you can open and close the roof even at motorway speed. The DS3 will seats five adults more comfortably than a Mini or a Fiat 500 and DS claims it has the largest load volume in the class.
The DS Prestige THP 165 petrol is fun to drive and looked particularly swish but cost £19,295 because of its extra cost purple roof £495 and interior carbon pack £150. Really pushed a Mini handles more tautly but the DS3 is still a good drive though the engine could be more refined.
It has stacks of grip and responsive steering that isn£€™t frustratingly light. The ride is jittery over poor surfaces. Official fuel consumption is 50.4mpg.
Also consider Audi A1, Ford Fiesta, Mini, Peugeot 208, Vauxhall Corsa.
Verdict Cheapness usually rules with the French, but not here!