The Citroen DS3 Racing, the fastest version of the French brand’s C3-based hot-hatch, has been ruled out of Australia owing to local vehicle regulations.
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Citroen’s Australian importer, Ateco Automotive, had been looking to import the sportiest version of its Mini-rivalling DS3, which launched here in the latter part of 2010.

Ateco went to the trouble of bringing a DS3 Racing to Australia to directly assess whether it could pass the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) that all imported new vehicles must adhere to, but admits it can’t justify the cost of making the changes necessary to put it into showrooms.

“We have had the car thoroughly checked locally to see if it would meet the local design rules or if modification was possible,” says Ateco spokesman Edward Rowe. “Unfortunately, to make it conform [to the ADRs] would require a substantial redesign of the suspension.

“And as it is already a boutique suspension design, different from the standard [DS3] car, this would be prohibitively expensive and, given that the cars are all being built in a fixed production run as a limited edition model, modifying the car prior to production would not be possible.”

The Citroen DS3 Racing’s suspension was tweaked by the company’s highly successful World Rally Championship team, which won yet another title in 2011 with a WRC version of the DS3 driven by Sebastian Loeb.

The suspension is stiffer and lower (by 15mm) than the DS3’s set-up and also includes wider front and rear axles, and larger, 18-inch wheels, for a bigger footprint on the road.

There’s also more power under the bonnet. Where the DS3 Sport, which is priced from $29,990, produces 115kW of power and 240Nm of torque from its 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, the DS3 Racing uses a more powerful version of the engine with outputs of 147kW and 275Nm.

It is a natural rival to the Mini John Cooper Works, which shares the same engine albeit in a slightly higher state of tune (155kW) and is far from cheap at nearly $50,000.

Ateco says its DS3 Racing model, which was imported under special manufacturer marketing technical evaluation rules, will now be sold in New Zealand where homologation issues don’t exist.

The company says it is considering offering more DS3 Racings in New Zealand in limited numbers.

There is still some potentially good news for Australian driving enthusiasts. Ateco says Citroen Racing is planning future models because of the success of the DS3 Racing - which CarAdvice reviewed earlier this year - and that the local importer will “ensure that Australian Design Rule requirements are included in the parameters of future cars”.