18 August 2016

Review: DS 3

This is a sweet car. Certainly among the nicest superminis I've driven so far this year, writes Brian Byrne. Caveat, though, it's also among the most expensive.

I'm in with a lot of people who buy the car. Not so much in Ireland, where DS both before and after if was spun off as a premium brand by PSA from its Citroen parent has been a small seller. But in the UK, the DS 3 has been the most popular version of DS derivatives.

It has just become available here in a refreshed version as launched in February in its home market. Some changes to the front and rear, including the elimination of Citroen badging in line with the new DS strategy. Better trim, some more specification. Most important, new or revised engines which offer in general more power, better performance, greater efficiency.

The overall shape since the car was first presented some seven years ago hasn't altered significantly. Good thing too, because it is a nicely distinctive and very practical style. The DS logo, now solus and more prominent, is still a curiosity in Ireland and did need explanation more than once during my recent week with the car. But those occasions also gave me opportunity to tell people that I liked it. A lot.

The interior retains the essential design elements of the Citroen supermini from which it comes. But with finishes and colours that seem classier. Generally fitted to a very high standard. The instruments are standard, clear, and surprisingly still devoid of digitality. And I liked that, where an analogue style is decently executed, it works very well.

There's good room for the front occupants, and the shape allows reasonable headroom for those in the rear, but the 3-door format means they have to be reasonably lithe to get in. If somebody there has long legs, then the front passenger seat can be moved quite far forward while still leaving room for the occupant, because of an unusually forward placing of the glovebox.

A man who has driven and worked with Citroens all his life said to me recently that that the attraction of the brand is 'all about the comfort'. And that's true, even though there's nothing exotic about the suspension in the DS 3 (the famous and sometimes controversial hydropneumatic system is being dropped permanently by Citroen/DS) it really stood out amongst its competitors in the comfort department. Regardless of what kind of surfaces or twistiness of roads I was driving on.

It was also fun, without requiring any excessive behaviour to enjoy it. The review car came with the top of the range 120hp 1.6 diesel, and the perkiness of it belied the relatively relaxed 9.3s-100km/h paper performance. The really nice working of the 6-speed manual shifter contributed too.

The car comes here in two levels of specification, and the review version was of the upper Prestige variety with a lot of standard gear, the Alcantara and cloth seats and the black diamond alloys particularly standing out.

At this level, the retail price of the DS 3 is €27,795 and the review car had metallic paint and a reversing camera that added €750 to that. The Road Tax is €180. You can start into the car at a more accessible €21,345 and 82hp in petrol.