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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Citroen DS3 is the company's answer to the Fiat 500 and Mini, with plenty of style and fun for your money. The engines are strong, it has a classy cabin and every version comes well equipped.

Against It's nowhere near as sharp as a Mini to drive and rear space isn't great. The badge might also hinder its popularity in this image-conscious sector.

Verdict There's plenty to like about the Citroen DS3. However, its disappointing ride and handling don't help its efforts to beat the best premium superminis.

Go for… 1.6 THP

Avoid… 1.4 Vti

Citroën DS3 Hatchback
  • 1. The Citroen DS3 is the company's answer to the Fiat 500 and Mini, with plenty of style and fun for your money
  • 2. The badge might also hinder its popularity in this image-conscious sector
  • 3. Its disappointing ride and handling don't help its efforts to beat the best premium superminis
  • 4. Stability control, traction control and six airbags are standard, so it's no surprise that the DS3 achieved a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests
  • 5. The DS3 has been recalled quite a few times since launch, so ensure the work has been done
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Citroën DS3 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Citroen DS3 is based on the C3 supermini, but it turns into 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. However, lesser models are slacker and can feel nervous on the motorway. Whichever version you choose, the ride is quite skittish, and the steering short of feel.

The 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. The clutch action is rather vague, too, and road noise is an issue if you have a car with 17-inch wheels. Every version of the DS3 keeps wind noise at an acceptable level.

The DS3 has a decent 285-litre boot and a reasonably roomy cabin. There's plenty of space in the 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 seems rather optimistic.

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.

Trade view

There’s no doubting the DS3’s visual appeal, but there are better superminis to drive and build quality on the DS3 is a problem.

Rory White
Used car writer

The DS3's delivery of power is one of its strengths, thanks to potent, free-revving petrol engines and strong, economical diesels. Petrol fans can choose from a 94bhp 1.4-litre, a 118bhp 1.6 (available with an automatic gearbox) or our favourite turbocharged 154bhp THP model. Two 1.6-litre turbodiesels are also available in either 91bhp or 110bhp form.

Stability control, traction control and six airbags are standard, so it's no surprise that the DS3 achieved a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Security equipment is competitive with that of rivals, so opportunist thieves would do well to look elsewhere.

Even entry-level DSign cars come with central locking, cruise control and electric front windows. DStyle trim adds air-conditioning, front LED daytime running lights and tinted rear windows. DSport cars add climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, 17-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, chrome side rubbing strips, and aluminium pedals. DSport makes the most sense on the used market. The Racing models have lowered suspension and upgraded brakes for a sharper drive, as well as climate control, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors.

Trade view

Used values remain quite high.

Rory White
Used car writer

The DS3 is a desirable car and used values are stronger than those of Citroen superminis of old. All models are encouragingly economical, but go for the lower-powered diesel and you should be able to get average economy of more than 70mpg.

Our favourite 1.6 THP 155 DSport is capable of 47.1mpg and emits only 139g/km of CO2, despite having hot hatch pace. The typical insurance cost of £640 is reasonable, too.

Trade view

There’s no doubting the DS3’s visual appeal, but there are better superminis to drive and build quality on the DS3 is a problem.

Rory White
Used car writer

The DS3 has been recalled quite a few times since launch. There have been issues with loss of drive, front axles becoming dethatched, insecure bonnets, fuel leaks, faulty airbags, loose suspension and engines cutting out. Ensure the work has been done.

Owners have also reported bits of trim coming away. The trim build quality is weak, so make sure your car hasn’t been too abused. If there are any squeaks or rattles, ask the dealer to have them seen to before you hand over any cash.

There have also been issues with the Bluetooth system, with some phones not connecting and some systems not working altogether. Give it a thorough test with your own mobile.

Trade view

Used values remain quite high.

Rory White
Used car writer
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