What's the used DS DS 3 hatchback like?
It actually began life as the Citroën DS3, but a midlife change of heart by the French firm meant DS became a brand in its own right as Citroën hoped to add a bit more pizzazz to the range and distance it from the bargain-basement image of existing models from the parent company. The updated DS 3 looks sharp, distinctive and carries with it the air of a premium product.
A range of lively petrol and strong diesel engines are available, all of which provide the 3 with a good turn of pace. Even the smallest units – three-cylinder petrols with 81bhp, 109bhp or 128bhp – make the 3 usefully nippy around town, although the least powerful version runs out of oomph at higher speed. The two 1.6 HDi diesel engines – in 99bhp or 118bhp form – are flexible and suit the 3’s dynamic character. There’s even a Performance model with a turbocharged 207bhp petrol engine that will whiz you to 62mph in a smoking 6.5sec, which is slightly quicker than a Mini Cooper S.
The 3 has a number of well-equipped trim options, too, starting with the entry-level Chic, which gets a 7.0in touchscreen, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and air-con, with the luxurious Prestige and sporting Performance trims at the top.
On top of the liveliness offered by the engines, the 3 is agile through bends. The steering responds quickly, so the car turns in to corners sharply and feels impressively nimble around town. At higher speeds, the tyres grip well and body movement is reasonably well controlled, although it has to be noted the 3 is nowhere near as composed or engaging to drive as a Mini.
The 3 can also ride a little too firmly over broken surfaces, although it’s reasonably civilised inside, the only intrusions being a little wind or road noise and the occasional gruffness of the diesel engines.
An imaginatively styled dashboard with chrome-rimmed dials and colour-coded panels gives the DS 3's interior real panache, with some plush materials and appealing finishes. The driving position is good, although visibility is hampered slightly by the stylised thick pillars. Inevitably, some of the switchgear and more functional parts are shared with Citroën’s mainstream models and, as a result, the 3’s interior doesn’t have the bespoke feel that a Mini’s does.
On top of that, rear space is distinctly limited, with two a squeeze and three very much a crowd, although its boot is larger than both the Mini’s and Fiat 500’s.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used DS DS 3 hatchback?
The 3 has a number of electrical goodies on board, so check that all work as they should. It’ll also have been used predominantly in urban areas so look for scuffs and dents picked up in car parks, and check the wheels for kerb damage.
DS as a brand is still fairly new – the separation from parent company Citroën only occurred in 2015 – so it’s difficult to gauge problems and reliability on the car. However, there have been some problems reported so far; they mostly concerned the front axles becoming detached, minor fuel leaks, loose suspension and the engine cutting out. The previous Citroën DS3 had problems with the timing chain in some engines, so it’s possible that this problem could still exist in later cars, so it's also worth keeping an eye on.
The 3 didn’t feature in our most recent reliability survey, although Citroën as a brand finished in a disappointing 28th place out of 32 manufacturers.
What are the most common problems with a used DS DS 3 hatchback?
Is a used DS DS 3 hatchback reliable?
What used DS DS 3 hatchback will I get for my budget?
Between £6500 and £7000 is the current starting point for a 2015 DS 3, probably with a diesel engine, an average mileage and full service history, bought from an independent dealer. Up the dosh to between £7000 and £9000 and you’ll net a 2016 car, with the same criteria, while £10,000 and more will get you a 2017 car from a trader, or £12,000-£13,000 for one from a franchised dealer.
How much does it cost to run a DS DS 3 hatchback?
Both petrol and diesel models offer fuel economy roughly on a par with their rivals. With the exception of the automatic model, all of the 3’s engines are impressively efficient and two of the diesel versions emit less than 100g/km of CO2.
Cars registered after April 2017 will pay the standard flat rate of annual car tax (VED), while those registered before should be cheap to tax, with those aforementioned diesels being free of charge.
Servicing costs are not cheap, perhaps surprisingly, especially at main dealerships. However, DS does have a number of servicing plans for older cars, with differing methods of payment.
Which used DS DS 3 hatchback should I buy?
The diesel 3s are lively but can be gruff, so we’d opt for the 1.2 Puretech petrol engine in 109bhp guise. This version of Citroën’s three-cylinder petrol engine is very willing and, although the power band is rather small, provides good performance.
Next step up from entry-level Chic trim is Connected Chic and it's our favourite because it keeps the price down and gives you access to better engines in the range. Standard equipment is good, adding to Chic 17in alloys, climate control, rear parking sensors, a two-tone colour option and, as the name suggests, better connectivity including smartphone mirroring (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and sat-nav.
Our favourite DS 3 1.2 Puretech 110 Connected Chic
What alternatives should I consider to a used DS DS 3 hatchback?
The Mini is fun to drive, has usable rear space and a decent boot. You can choose between three and five-door versions, too. There are hundreds of customisation options to choose from through the various packs, so used prices vary a lot.
The Fiat 500 is extremely popular, despite being smaller than the Mini and the DS 3. It’s good to drive, although not as sharp as the Mini and the 3, but its chic retro looks and agility in traffic have made this car an icon among urban movers and shakers. Used prices are competitive, too.