• Strong value; fun handling and rides well; good performance; well equipped; distinctive, non-retro styling
  • Doesn\'t have the Mini\'s directness or endearing cheekiness; obvious interior commonality with cheaper C3; how long will current pricing last?

OUR RATING
8 / 10



Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review

The Citroen DS3 was the first of the French brand’s new breed of premium cars paying homage to the famously innovative ‘Diesse’ sold from 1955 to 1975.

But there’s no longer much of a ‘premium’ price tag attached to this city car.

After launching in 2010 with starting prices of $32,990 and $35,990 for the two trim levels, DStyle and DSport, successive price cuts in 2012 see the entry model Citroen DS3 become available for just $24,990 and the sportier version just $27,990, both driveaway.

That’s a saving of more than $10,000 on each – great news for budding buyers but bad news for resale values of those purchased previously.

Some might call it a slightly Machiavellian move from current Citroen importer Ateco Automotive, which is expected to pass the brand to the company responsible for its sister brand, Peugeot.

The price change – which is unlikely to remain in place too far into 2013 – makes the Citroen DS3 an even greater bargain compared with BMW’s little cash cow, the Mini hatchback.

Our test is of the DSport variant that actually shares its 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine with the Mini Cooper S – though with slightly lower outputs of 115kW and 240Nm.

Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review

With a 0-100km/h claim of 7.3 seconds it’s not as quick as its rival, and it doesn’t feel as punchy.

This is still a delightful unit, though – responsive from idle, and providing a strong, linear delivery from a couple of thousand revs.

There’s only a six-speed manual available – the DStyle comes with auto mated to smaller, 1.4-litre engine – but it’s a good one, avoiding the sloppiness that has plagued many Peugeot-Citroen models in recent years.

The drivetrain encourages you to have fun in the Citroen DS3, but if you stay on the sensible side then you’re more likely to match the official fuel consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km.

Venture onto winding roads and the DS3 proves to be the best-handling Citroen for eons. The steering is accurate and linear, if no match for the speed of the Mini’s tiller, and there’s a delicate balance to the way the DS3’s chassis sets itself up for each change of direction.

Head back into the city, and the suspension can be a touch noisy – with some tyre roar thrown into the mix – and isn’t quite able to make a fuss-free passage across big potholes, but the DS3’s ride is generally comfortable and absorbent.

The front seats are relaxing enough for general driving and offer good support for more enthusiastic punting.

Citroen DS3 Review
Citroen DS3 Review

The Citroen DS3 has more distinctive styling than the C3 on which it’s based, with the notable shark fin bodywork that rises out of the rear bodywork in a Jaws-like fashion.

Blacked-out windscreen and door pillars also create the ‘floating roof’ effect that may be a blatant rip-off of the Mini but is equally effective.

The roof, too, is available in contrasting colours, with optional decals, while the main body can be subtle or loud with a choice of conservative colours (such as white) or bright hues (such as yellow). (Same with the interior, where it’s possible to match seat colour to body colour.)

Yet without the baggage of a famous lineage, the DS3 is also free to be refreshingly anti-retro.

Fancy-looking Y-spoke 17-inch alloys help to fill the wheel-arches, and the double-chevron-topped grille is flanked by standard LED daytime running lights and foglights.

There’s not as great a differentiation between the DS3 and C3 interiors alas, with similar interior design. So the perception of quality, as well as fit and finish, could be higher for what is positioned as the more premium model, though soft-touch materials are used for main connection points between occupants and car.

The Citroen DS3 also offers more practicality than a Mini.

There’s more boot space and adults will find a greater semblance of legroom in the back seat (although it’s still on the tight side).

Good luck finding a cupholder, though.

Leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity and upgraded audio are among the few options available, which don’t include rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate or electrically adjustable front seats.

The spec sheet isn’t spartan, though, with stability control, six airbags, sports seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and trip computer also in the features line-up.

Also, metallic paint and rear parking sensors were added as standard as part of the most recent price tweak.

We have yet to test the DStyle and its new drivetrain, but it’s still decently equipped with leather steering wheel, sports seats, foglights, power windows and mirrors, cruise control among its features.

The Citroen DS3, then, smashes the Mini for value, at least for now.

We’ll aim to avoid using the clichéd Q-word that rhymes with turkey, but this is another Citroen that goes a different way to the mainstream in terms of design.

Yet despite its quir… sorry…. slightly left-field nature, the Citroen DS3 is a car that should have broad appeal – to both buyers looking for a city car with urban chic, and keen drivers looking for an affordable hatch with solid performance and style.


Citroen DS3

Citroen DS3 DStyle $24,990 driveaway
Citroen DS3 DSport $27,990 driveaway 


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CITROEN DS3 BREAKDOWN

Citroen DS3 Review
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  • Carfanatic555

    that is such a great little car, and the quality of the car is outstanding for the segment, and for the price.

    • Alpha

       Absolutely and I plan to pick one up in a couple of years for under $15K. Would be mighty annoyed if I paid ner $34K to have the Citroen dealers slash the price – there goes any hope in hell of resale!

  • Audi e-tron

    Altough it looks relatively good for the price, I have to agree with Jez on this one. A $10,000 price cut in this segment doesn’t seem like a very sustainable strategy but there is a chance that ehy had previously hyper-inflated the price.

  • BJC

    Condemnation with faint praise indeed – since most journos hate all french cars with an unbridled passion and lust after not-necessarily-reliable VWs etc (esp the DSG!!!)

  • Nmrenwick

    I utterly adore my DStyle. Well built. Drives like a sports car. I have the older 1.6l 4 speed auto model. It’s a surprisingly good auto. Leagues ahead of my 09 German Ford Fiesta’s which was a nightmare. 

  • Nmrenwick

    Though you are right about the cupholders. Seems to be a French thing, as they are sparse in the Renault Fluence also. Whenever I think about it (or someone comments) I imagine the car smoking a cigarette and in a French accent asking accusingly “And why are you drinking in me?”

  • Norm

    I’m sure it’s great little car but why oh why did Citroen invoke the legendary DS name for a little hatch who’s looks – let’s be honest – will not be regarded as visionary in 50 years time.

    The original DS deserves it’s place in history as an all time great. 

    Couldn’t they could have retired it’s name as a mark of respect?

    The French – they’re a funny lot.

  • The Real Wile E

    Price great though would not go for yellow seats.
    Build quality has been an issue with Citroen and Peugeot so if that is now pretty good could be worth serious consideration.

  • Igomi Watabi

    I presume by the Mini’s “endearing cheeriness”, you mean the way it performs and handles? Otherwise, I think you might have meant to say “pastiche styling and rancid interior”

  • Reecho

    Grabbed one last week….waiting for delivery…Yellow of course…

  • DrPhil

    These are a great bargain… If only the Citroen DS4 was AWD, I would snap one up.

    • Chevrons

      and in the full spec DS4R….

  • Kookanoodles

    I always find it funny how much Australians and British people want cupholders. The reason for which they are quite a rare sight in French cars is, I think, because drinking tall cups of coffee while walking or driving isn’t really a thing in France. We mostly drink coffee in little cups or mugs, and rarely take it with us everywhere. Still, I think it’s time French carmakers understood that and made cupholders available on their cars in Australia and Britain.

Citroen DS3 Specs

DSPORT : 1.6L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 3D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
CITROEN
Model
DS3
Variant
DSPORT
Year
2012
Body Type
3D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
240Nm @  1400rpm
Max. Power
115kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
107W/kg
Bore & Stroke
77x85mm
Compression Ratio
10.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
50
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6.7L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1075
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1483mm
Length
3948mm
Width
1715mm
Ground Clearance
134mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1150  Unbrake:570
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.4
Front Rim Size
7x17
Rear Rim Size
7x17
Front Tyres
205/45 R17
Rear Tyres
205/45 R17
Wheel Base
2464
Front Track
1468
Rear Track
1471
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows Front
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Driver
Mobile Phone Connectivity, Parking Distance Control
Entertainment
Premium Sound System
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Interior
Leather Upholstery
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-H-10
Country of Origin
FRANCE