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New DS 3 - What Car? Reader Test Team review

Can this stylish small hatchback challenge big-selling rivals such as the Mini? What Car? readers give their verdict

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DS 3 Reader Test Team

Newly spun-off brand DS has let our readers take a close look at its new 3, which, it hopes, will fight off competition from the Audi A1, Mini and other upmarket superminis.

DS, formerly a sub-brand of Citroรซn but now a fully fledged manufacturer in the same stable as Peugeot and Citroรซn, claims to have moved the 3 upmarket to match the new badge.

The company says it has improved the technology on offer in the 3 while maintaining the cars quirkiness and vast range of customisation options.

Will our readers think the DS 3 a premium enough proposition?

Howard Phillips Age 57 Job IT project manager Drives Nissan Qashqai

โ€˜Iโ€™ve tried a Mini, Audi A1, Hyundai ix20, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka โ€” and it is this DS 3 that stands out from them all for me.

โ€˜Iโ€™ve got two priorities, really: that my car is fun to drive; and that my six feet three inches tall son fits in.

โ€˜The DS 3 has an opulent but sporty feel. Itโ€™s not too big, but it is big enough, and it is very well kitted out. It has all the class of the Audi A1โ€™s interior. It also has some more bells and whistles as standard, rather than as options.

โ€˜My only criticisms would be that the materials used in the door pockets and steering wheel are a bit underwhelming quality-wise.

โ€˜In magazines, the grille looked really heavy and overdone, but actually it has a really nice quality to it. Itโ€™s striking without being overbearing, and it looks classy. I also like the light clusters.

โ€˜The only question mark in my mind as to whether Iโ€™ll buy one is the knowledge that the outgoing car is available with such great discounts at the moment. Iโ€™ve been offered a high-spec model with 25% off by my local dealer. Thatโ€™s hard to turn down, even when the latest model looks this good.โ€™

John Mehew Age 53 Job Engineering team leader Drives Citroen DS3 Racing

โ€˜When I looked at the pictures, I thought this design was a fairly minor evolution of what had gone before. While thatโ€™s true in some respects, that description doesnโ€™t do justice to some of the changes.

โ€˜The front-end design now really stands out. The grille and headlight treatments are really special, and the shape of the daytime running lights will really tell other drivers โ€œthis is a DS 3โ€.

โ€˜The exterior isnโ€™t perfect, though. The rear badges look like theyโ€™re stuck on, rather than being part of the car. For a brand moving upmarket, thatโ€™s a mistake.

โ€˜My biggest challenge would be to choose between the standard car and the Cabrio. I wouldnโ€™t normally look at a soft-top, but this mechanism is so simple to use, and the car so elegant, that I could be tempted. Itโ€™d be a nice way to show off the interior, too. The use of chrome in the cabin is smart without being over the top.

โ€˜The new DS 3 looks and feels more French and upmarket than before. Itโ€™s a match for the best from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.'

Gerald Swift Age 58 Job Semi-retired electrician Drives Citroen DS3

โ€˜Its look is improved over the old modelโ€™s and the detailed lights give it a really premium feel, both front and back. They could have gone further with the changes, though.

โ€˜Aesthetically, the DS 3 is one of the best-looking cars in its class. Itโ€™s not quite as well built as the Volkswagen Polo and doesnโ€™t have the character of the Mini, but thereโ€™s nothing on it that I particularly dislike.

โ€˜The chrome trim gives a more upmarket look to the front end, more so than that of the previous one. However, the indicator light pattern isnโ€™t repeated in the rear indicators, which is disappointing.

โ€˜Little bits of attention to detail have been missed elsewhere. In most premium cars Iโ€™ve driven, the interior cubbyholes have rubber inserts so that things donโ€™t rattle when theyโ€™re put inside. The DS 3 doesnโ€™t have that. Youโ€™d expect better on a high-end car like this.

โ€˜A leather-padded armrest would have been a nice detail for the price, too. Thereโ€™s also a difference between the leather trim pieces and some of the cheaper plastics around them. Apart from those bits, it feels well put together.โ€™

Martin Clews Age 54 Job Street ranger Drives Citroen DS3

โ€˜I like that the switch to DS hasnโ€™t priced the car out of the marketโ€™s range. The new tech makes it a lot more user-friendly, too. For example, you can fully link it up to your phone now.

โ€˜Thereโ€™s a lot of familiarity about it, but thatโ€™s a good thing because it has always been miles better than rivals. For the money, itโ€™s the most complete car on the market.

โ€˜The quality is still there, which is what matters most. People still refer to it as a Citroรซn DS3 and link it back to the Saxo and other lower-quality cars from Citroรซn. Once DS becomes a household name, the badge snobbery will go.

โ€˜Iโ€™m six feet seven inches tall and I fit in the front perfectly, so thereโ€™s no shortage of space. When my current DS3 breathes its last, Iโ€™m sure that Iโ€™ll be moving on to one of these.

โ€˜My only complaint would be that the 2.0-litre engine isnโ€™t being used in the Performance version, but the claimed improvements in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions sound impressive.

โ€˜Itโ€™s quirkier than rivals, which a DS should be, and better built; I will get one when the time is right.โ€™

Read our definitive 16-point review of the new DS 3