Characterful DS 3 more dynamic, more DeSirable
- Credit: DS Automobiles
Since the DS range split from parent Citroen, this fashionable marque is certainly making its mark. Motoring editor Andy Russell drives the revised DS 3.
The trendy DS 3 hatchback and Cabrio, which launched the reborn range, has been key to building the image and, ultimately, the DS Automobiles brand.
The DS 3 heralded the new range in 2010 and has achieved 390,000 sales worldwide. One in four has been in the UK, the biggest market with 100,000 of those sales – hence the reason the UK has led the new DS3 launch activities.
The best selling DS models has now followed the DS 5 and DS 4 in getting the new 'it's no longer a Citroen' family face with DS Automobiles a standalone brand.
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The basic body is the same, so retains the floating roof design and side profile shark fin, but the front end with signature DS 'wings' creates a bold new face with LED lights, boosted by Xenon headlights on higher models.
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Inside, a new seven-inch touchscreen means 20 few buttons which improves functionality while reducing clutter.
And there are even more personalisation possibilities with 78 body/roof colour combinations, 10 roof decals and four fabric cabriolet roofs. The marketing team boasts about three million personalisation options but who's counting!
Under the bonnet
A good range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, all but the entry three-cylinder 82hp 1.2-litre turbo charged, has something for everyone right up to 210hp 1.6-litre petrol in the new Performance and Performance Black models.
The 110hp 1.2-litre PureTech turbo petrol engine is joined by the 130hp version which really suits the DS 3's character.
Strong low-down pull makes for wide, flexible power delivery so the DS 3 is responsive and, as the revs rise, increasingly eager. It revs willingly, with a distinctive three-cylinder thrummy engine note, but is well muted once cruising.
Even with some exhuberant driving it returned 45mpg and I suspect many drivers would see well over 50mpg overall.
The more powerful 120hp 1.6-litre BlueHDI turbo diesel – there's also a 100hp version – needed to be worked harder to keep the engine in the sweet spot, rather surprising for a diesel, but with little mileage was still tight. It averaged 55mpg but, unless you do higher mileage, my money would go on the 130 petrol PureTech in popular Elegance and Prestige trims because it much fun and in tune with the DS 3 character.
How does it drive?
The DS 3 is as entertaining to drive as it is to look at.
The suspension is on the firm side, which highlights road defects and there's some road noise on poor surfaces. The upside is fine handling which makes the DS 3 rewarding to drive on twisty roads although the steering, while responsive, could do with a little more feel. That said, it makes light work of parking and urban driving.
Performance and Performance Black models have bespoke running gear for an even more sporty drive
Space and comfort
While not huge in the back, a couple of average adults won't feel cramped with some compromise on legroom from those up front. And even the Cabrio can carry three in the back with the biggest issue having only two passenger doors.
The hatchback has a deep, flat-sided 285-litre boot and rear seat backs drop 60/40 for larger loads. At 245 litres, the Cabrio's boot is as good as it gets in this class but the lid that cantilevers out and up is more novel than practical.
In the cabin
The hatchback is quite dark inside, while the Cabrio has a sliding full-length fabric roof rather than being a full soft-top. It's ideal for open-air motoring and can be opened, partly or fully, and closed at up to 75mph. Because it does not fold into the boot rear visibility is poor with it fully back.
The interior looks smart but there are a lot of hard plastics and those lower down the fascia had some rough edges from the mouldings. These were early production cars but it is still disappointing.
The DS 3 is a cheeky, cheerful character and full of fun so it's not difficult to see why it has won so many fans in the UK.
The new model looks better, for not a lot of visual change, but finally resolves the ambiguity about whether it is a Citroen or a DS. That can only help to build its upmarket image and identity to make it even more desirable.