Citroen's Mini & Fiat 500 rival
* Citroen DS sub-brand launched * DS3 on sale in 2010 * Concept to be shown at Geneva motor show...
Citroen will be taking on the Mini and Fiat 500 with a new DS supermini next year.
However, instead of the DS being a standalone model, it'll be a collection of stylish, upmarket cars set to compete with smaller BMWs, Audis and Mercedes. And the only thing retro about the DSs will be the name.
It all kicks off with the DS3: it's about the same size as a Mini Clubman, yet its compact, muscular look makes the British car look distinctly dated.
A three-door concept car called DS Inside will be shown for the first time at the Geneva motor show next month.
It's a little under four meters long and has design features such as a floating roof (highlighted by a contrasting colour) and a distinctive shark fin panel just behind the rear door.
Expect the car that reaches showrooms in the first half of 2010 to remain faithful to the concept car.
A new Citroen badge features fresh chevrons, while a new DS badge sits in the middle of the tailgate, above a centrally mounted exhaust.
More traditional Citroen-style headlights are complemented by LED lights in the deep front spoiler.
The rear lights are similarly distinctive, as are the chrome slashes on the bottom of the doors.
Inside, the designers have been given free reign to come up with some delightful detailing, from the chrome gearknob and handbrake trim, to the conical instruments and low-slung seats, which give a clue to the car's sporty intentions.
The production DS should offer a range of petrol and diesel models, with power outputs from 90 to a Mini Cooper S-rivalling 155bhp. Citroen is aiming for a model with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, while there's also talk of a microhybrid model, too.
The DS is expected to offer similar boot space to the Mini Clubman at around 265litres.
Plus just like the Mini and Fiat 500, there'll be myriad ways to personalise your DS3 so no two cars will be alike.
You should be able to choose from 43 exterior colours, 10 seat upholsteries, 25 wheel designs, 15 door mirror shells and eight stick-on graphic themes, which will include eco, art, fashion, heroes and sport.
Although DS models will be more expensive than similarly sized Citroens, we're promised that they'll be cheaper than rivals from premium brands such as BMW and Audi. So we'd expect the DS3 to start at under 12,000 when it arrives next year.