Citroën DS3 Hatchback full 9 point review
The way the DS3 delivers its power is one of its strengths, thanks to potent, free-revving petrol engines and strong diesels. Petrol fans can choose from 80 and 109bhp 1.2-litre units, a 118bhp 1.6 (which comes with an automatic gearbox) and the turbocharged 161bhp THP model. Two 1.6-litre diesels are also available, in either 91 or 118bhp form.
Ride & Handling
The DS3 is based on the C3 supermini, but it turns in to bends quicker and doesn't bob up and down like a nodding dog every time you touch the brakes. Go for the THP model and there's also decent body control through corners; lesser versions are slacker and can feel nervous on the motorway. Whichever version you choose, the ride is jiggly and the steering doesn't offer you much sense of how hard the front tyres are gripping.
The turbocharged 1.6 THP engine is smooth and quiet, whereas the lower-powered 1.6 emits a constant drone on the motorway because it has a short top gear. Versions with a manual gearbox also have a vague clutch action. Road noise is an issue if you have a car with 17-inch wheels, although every DS3 keeps wind noise to an acceptable level.
Buying & Owning
The DS3 is not cheap to buy, but there are some good discounts available to sweeten the deal. Its desirability is reflected in its resale values, which are far stronger than those of Citroen superminis of old, if not quite as good as a Mini Hatch or Audi A1's. Every version is encouragingly economical.
Quality & Reliability
Arguably this is the area where Citroen has made the biggest improvements over the previous few years. An imaginatively styled dashboard with chrome-rimmed dials and colour-coded panels gives the DS3's cabin real panache, while plush trim and slick switchgear add to the premium feel. The DS3 scored above-average marks for reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
Stability control and six airbags are standard, and the DS3 was awarded the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. Higher-spec models also get automatic emergency braking, which applies the brakes at low speeds if the system thinks you’re about to hit the vehicle in front. Security experts Thatcham awarded the DS3 four out of five for its resistance to being stolen and three out of five for its resistance to being broken into.
Behind The Wheel
You sit a long way back from the windscreen, so it can feel like you're driving a small MPV. The pedals are offset, too, which makes the driving position feel slightly awkward. However, the dashboard layout is pretty user-friendly – only the steering column-mounted controls for the stereo and cruise control let the side down, because they're hidden behind the wheel.
Space & Practicality
The DS3 has a decent 285-litre boot and a reasonably roomy cabin. There's plenty of space up front and enough in the back for a couple of adults, even if rear legroom is a bit tight. Citroen's claim that the DS3 is a full five-seater is very optimistic, however.
Even entry-level DSign cars come with LED daytime running lights, remote central locking, cruise control and electric front windows. DStyle adds air-conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth, while DSire gets climate control, rear parking sensors, and automatic lights and wipers. Our favourite is generously equipped DSport trim, which also has xenon and LED headlights, electrically folding door mirrors and leather interior detailing.