DS models were launched by Citroen in 2009 and became the sporting range, but at the Geneva show in 2015 it was announced the DS would become an individual brand within the PSA Peugeot Citroen family.
That’s 50 years after the famous and large Citroen DS series was created and established the brand’s luxury credentials. These days, luxury comes in a lighter package with the DS 3.
There is a 17-strong range of petrol and diesel models in hatchback or cabriolet body-styles with four trim grades and choice of petrol and diesel engines with manual or automatic transmission.
Our 165hp 1600cc model tested sits mid-range in trim but is the most powerful in the line up and it also gets the latest stop&start technology to eek out the fuel economy.
The petrol engine has a pedigree through the brand and it packs a good spread of power which reduces the need for gearchanges and when matched to that S&S system it meant we were able to average 38mpg without a problem.
It’s a fairly quiet engine unless you really push it through the gears but its happy to change quickly and directly as you head towards its maximum. We found the long travel clutch a little disconcerting after its lightness and the biting point was fairly close to the floor.
Contrast this with the short travel brake pedal and the really progressive and powerful action underfoot and a lightness to the multi-adjustable steering which made town driving a dawdle.
The abundance of stalks for lights, wipers, and sound system meant you needed familiarity to work quickly. Dials were big and very clear with a central multi-purpose screen infront of the driver.
Another screen on the console covered the navigation and sound system displays. This aspect of the DS was showing its six-year-old origins as the display is smaller than on more modern cars and the satnav did not give speed alerts or speed camera positions, unlike most rival systems.
The sound system had bee upgraded on our test car at a cost £1,000 but it left something to be desired in terms of function and operation although the sound quality was very good.
The DS3 had a very effective air conditioning system including scented air freshener canister and powered front windows but there was no sunroof option and instead relied on the Cabrio to meet the needs of open-air offianados.
We were surprised not to find cup holders in the car but slim pockets, trays or bins instead to take items. How does a French person manage without a coffee or do they take that in café surroundings?
The boot accommodated 285 litres to the lifting shelf with a real spare tyre underneath the floor, while the rear access was not too difficult and getting infront was very easy with the big doors. Seats were deeply shaped infront, less so in the back, but all were comfortable and supporting.
I thought visibility was bad over the shoulder at some junctions, particularly with a passenger beside you, or when reversing and you need the sensors and camera to be safer in shopping centre car parks.
In fact, for an agile and lively hatchback it was surprisingly comfortable on journeys of short or long duration and that is unusual. The most memorable element of the DS3 was its ability to turn heads almost everywhere it went. It is a hatchback which stands out from the crowd even when stationary, in much the same way as its ancestor of 50 years ago broke the mould of conventional post war designs.
|Citroen DS3 DSport||Price: £19,000 plus metallic paint & upgraded entertainment £1,545|
|Insurance group: 26E||Mechanical: 165hp 4cyl 1598cc turbo-petrol, 6sp|
|Max speed: 135mph||0-62mph: 7.5sec|
|Fuel consumption: 38mpg on test||CO2 emissions: 129gkm|
|BIK rating: 18%||Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles|