It may be stylish, but does it offer anything more?
As the DS 3 launched the premium French marque back in 2010, it only seems right that the same model signifies the completion of the DS brand’s 2016 model range. Yes, that means that in a space of just nine months DS has managed to re-launch all three of its UK models, each one stripped of its Citroen badging.
But apart from dropping the Citroen name from its rear-end, what else has the new DS 3 got to offer? Well, aesthetically it adopts the same DS signature front-end featured on the DS 4 and DS 5 – rather well actually – and it’s also the first production DS model to wear the “double wings front-end.” On top of that there is a slightly refreshed interior and, arguably most important of all, it casts its net a little wider into the engine range of its Citroen and Peugeot confederates.
Aside to its standard Hatch and Cabrio body styles, a DS 3 Performance model is set to go into production in April, which features a THP 207bhp petrol, a 15mm lowered ride, bespoke suspension and limited slip differential for improved traction.
With 400,000 DS 3’s sold since its launch, the UK being the most popular market with a huge 25 per cent of those sales, its success in 2016 is integral to the DS brand getting off to a flying start and standing on its own two feet. But does it really “complete a journey of transformation” for the flash French carmaker?
The usual line-up of the PureTech petrols and BlueHDi diesels remain. The diesel options are the same, with a 1.6-litre unit offering either 99bhp or 118bhp, both of which offer ample torque. The 118bhp is definitely the better all-rounder though.
The petrol options now stand at five, with the big addition being the PureTech 130. This is the same three-pot turbo petrol that injected new life into the Peugeot 208 in a recent facelift – and it does just that for the DS 3 too.
Although the PureTech 110 turbo offers decent poke – and is now available with the EAT6 automatic transmission - the PureTech 130 is just that bit sweeter, with a zero to 62mph sprint of just nine seconds and 230Nm of torque. Maximum pulling power from this 1.2-litre is actually quoted as coming in at 1,750rpm, but it only really comes to life at around the 3,000 – 4,000rpm mark. When it does though, you would never guess it was a three-cylinder. The six-speed manual is the only transmission available with the PureTech 130 and we were happy firing through the gears, although the throw is ever so slightly on the long side.
Even the engine note when starting up in the new PureTech 130 lets off a little burble, turning that sometimes raspy three-cylinder sound into a gleeful rumble. The amount of performance, fun and efficiency you get from this engine almost makes the higher-powered THP 165 seem redundant. I mean, how much grunt does the average DS 3 driver really need?
Ride and Handling
The DS 3 doesn’t quite have the same finesse as the MINI Hatch, but for a car that has ‘millions of styling combinations’, it is more than capable of holding its own.
The steering has a great balance of weight to it, being light enough for city driving and yet offering enough tautness to make twisty roads fairly entertaining. The steering’s slightly vague feel off centre is the main thing stopping it from locking horns with the MINI. You will need to cane the DS 3 on a country road for it to really come out of its shell, but that’s all part of the fun.
Regardless of the road surface, the DS 3’s suspension handles itself with ease, worlds apart when compared with its unsettled DS 4 and DS 5 siblings. The only thing to be conscious of is going for the larger wheels, which can have detrimental effects on comfort. Refinement from both petrol and diesel models is impressive, particularly at lower speeds, but wind and tyre noise is prominent when pushing 70mph.
Regardless of the road surface, the DS 3’s suspension handles itself with ease, worlds apart when compared with its unsettled DS 4 and DS 5 siblings.
Did you know?
The DS 3 was the first car launched under the ‘DS’ premium badge, preceding the DS 4 crossover and DS 5 executive car.
Interior And Equipment
The DS 3’s interior has gotten the Peugeot de-cluttering treatment with 20 less buttons now featured on the dashboard. At a glance, you won’t even notice this. Unfortunately the rather inconveniently-placed volume control buttons remain at the bottom of the fascia, next to the menu button. There are a few other small niggles, like the outdated-looking cruise control toggle and an almost unusable glovebox.
Apart from that though, the DS 3 manages to deliver an upmarket feel with plenty of glossy plastics, stylishly-patterned door materials and cool sporty-looking dials on the instrument panel.
The three core trims include Chic, Elegance and Prestige – but Ultra Prestige, Performance and Performance Black are also offered as part of an Exclusive Collection. Every Chic model comes fitted with basics like air-con and Bluetooth but also gets some luxuries like DAB digital radio, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
A significant standard addition to all models is Active City Brake, which can perform autonomous braking at speeds of up to 18mph.
Practicality is fairly good all-round, with plenty of head room up front and enough leg room for most in the back. It is by no means class leading but it certainly outshines the Fiat 500. Boot space stands at 285 litres, which is a smidgen behind the Ford Fiesta but a good size for shopping bags.
As with any brand that carries a premium reputation, prices range a fair bit, from £13,995 for the entry-level model to £20,995 for the Ultra Prestige model. You will be looking at around £22,000 for the Performance model.
The most efficient derivative is the BlueHDi 100 diesel, emitting 87g/km of CO2 and it should realistically return around 60mpg. Prices for this model start from £15,895. If you are after the new PureTech 130, which emits 105g/km, then you will have to pay upwards of £16,895.
The most efficient derivative is the BlueHDi 100 diesel, emitting 87g/km of CO2 and it should realistically return around 60mpg.
The DS 3 remains the best current case study for what the DS brand should be producing. On paper, not much has changed with the DS 3, but small tweaks here and there – the PureTech 130 petrol mainly - have made a noticeable difference.
If you have your heart set on an efficient diesel DS 3, then you won’t be disappointed. However, if you are after a diesel we advise you stay away from test driving the 130 petrol – it will be hard to resist.
The PureTech 130 version is not only the pick of the DS 3 range, it is hands down the best DS model currently available in the UK.