Here’s one for you! When is a Citroen not a Citroen? When it’s a DS
By Steve Grant – Motoring Journalist
DS officially became a standalone brand on June 1 last year, positioned as a more stylish, luxurious and dynamic alternative to its parent company.
Think of them as Lexus is to Toyota. Since its launch in 2010, the DS 3 has found its way into 320,000 homes worldwide and, on the latest models, the boot is the only place where you’ll see the Citroen name. And even then, the DS badge sits above it.
Now, not even the most generous admirer of automobile design would compare the DS 3 with the marque’s original DS, a truly iconic model, but it is a major improvement on the regular five-door C3 hatchback it is based on. The figures show it’s been a strong seller and that is down to its stylish, sporty looks, better class interior and fun driving experience. And, with prices starting at £13,295 on the road, it’s more affordable than rivals such as the Mini, Alfa Romeo Mito, Fiat 500 and Audi’s A1.
Efficiency is good too. The latest BlueHDi 100 engine officially delivers 94mpg and class-leading, tax-friendly CO2 emissions of 79g/km. Even the Pure Tech 82 petrol engine available returns 68mpg and equally tax-free emissions of 95g/km.
For those who like to add a little more power to the poise, there’s the 1.6-litre, 165hp turbo petrol version I was driving. Even if it’s not quite a ‘hot hatch’ it’s certainly getting close to simmering. Top speed is 135mph and the 0 to 62mph sprint can be chalked off in 7.5 seconds.
Officially it returns just over 50mpg though, preferring to try out the sporting credentials suggested by its squat, sporty stance and distinguishing ‘shark fin’ B-pillars, I was getting around 40, which is not to be sniffed at.
The unusual reversed B-pillar also falls shy of the roof allowing buyers to choose between a ‘floating’ roofline or allowing it to disappear altogether by opting for a black finish. Currently the DS 3 is available in five trim levels – DSign, DStyle, DStyleNav, DSport and Ultra Prestige, though regular special editions also crop up and they are worth casting an eye over. All models are well equipped with a leather steering wheel, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors and aircon.
There are also six airbags, stability control and automatic activation of hazard warning lights under emergency braking. The DSport Plus edition I was driving added Bluetooth, larger alloys, parking sensors and auto headlights and wipers. With its bold and quirky lines – such as the aforementioned ‘shark’s fin’ – the DS 3 is a car that stands out from rivals such as the understated A1 and the Mini. There’s its eye-catching LED running lights, 3D-effect LED tail lights and, on the latest models, xenon headlamps with LED running light elements.
Inside, it’s also stylish and solidly built with a choice of eye-catching finishes for the full-width dash panel – plenty of ‘personalisation’ options are available inside and out – while a floating cowl sits above the chrome-ringed dials. There’s also a gloss black centre console, leather and metal-effect gear lever and drilled alloy pedals. The only thing I didn’t like was the central arm rest which covered the handbrake when down and was a real elbow-catcher when up. But that’s a minor gripe.
The DS 3 is a fun car, both to look at and drive. Its colourful and quirky design may not be to everyone’s taste but it stands out from the crowd in a way that many models do not. And, that punchy, rev-hungry engine and it’s slick six-speed manual transmission is a joy on our twisty back roads in such an agile little motor. The grip is also strong and, even in the firmer DSport models, the ride is not over firm. In the rear, the DS 3’s stretched wheelbase provides relatively healthy knee and leg room. If you’re lucky enough to sit behind the passenger, this can be improved further because more space is freed up by a deeply scalloped glovebox.
The boot is also has a class-leading 285-litre capacity – plenty more than the Mini – and the rear bench seat has a 60:40 split for more space. It’s also worth noting that the DS 3 that last year, for the second year running, topped its class in the annual What Car? JD Power Survey.
Voted the magazine’s Best Small Car for 2014, it received a customer satisfaction score of 79.3 per cent – the overall industry average was 77.2 per cent – and was lauded for its styling, affordable running costs and driver visibility. Its personalisation options and exterior colour combinations were also highly praised. Overall, the DS 3 came in 21st out of a total of 109 models in the survey, which ranks the views of real car owners. Residual values are also strong.
Perhaps DS is shorthand for ‘desired’.
DS 3 DSportPlus THP 165 S&S 6-Speed Manual
MAX SPEED: 135mph 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
FUEL ECONOMY: 50.4mpg CO2
NOTES TO EDITOR:
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