Okay, I will start by saying that the DS3 is an unloved car in Australia, but does still have a strong following in Europe. This lack of love here in Australia is undeserved as they are great little cars.
I originally bought the car due to its styling, and was “sucked in” by the anti-retro advertising. At the time, it seemed that a lot of cars were going the retro path, and I wanted something different. I love the styling, but was worried that it may start to date - over time, it seems to have held up, and people are still shocked when I tell them that it is almost 8 years old.
Inside it is starting to show its age with the red LED display for infotainment. It is certainly is a far cry from the colour touchscreens of today’s cars, but it’s something I can certainly live with. The finish and build quality are something that is surprising. Most people would scoff at Citroen, saying that the build quality isn’t there, however after all this time it only has a minor rattle and everything has held together as if it had just rolled off the production line in France.
The seating is both comfortable and supportive for the front occupants, and there is a surprising amount of room for the back seat passengers, even on a longer trip. Not bad for a 3-door hatch. On the road it is a sweet little car to drive; nice and quiet on the highway and has a nice little mechanical whine, which reminds me of our old mini from when I was a kid.
Power wise, it is okay but it could have done with a bit more. Sadly, Australia missed out on the DS3 racing model, which would have been very nice.
Now let’s talk about the problems. A big one is the PSA/BMW-developed Prince engine under the bonnet. Sadly this is the car's only problem, as there are well documented problems of timing chain reliability. I am sure it’s a major reason that this car has a bad reputation, but in saying that Citroen did replace mine before it gave me any problems, with no questions and at no charge to me.
I have had a couple of other mechanical problems. An ignition coil had a fault (and I still haven’t changed it yet), and a temperature sensor failed, but the worst was the high pressure fuel pump failing, which was an expensive exercise to replace. But, all in all, it has been pretty good all of this time.
I don’t think I would change it (well, except for a bit more power) and it saddens me that the new DS3 is going to be a 4-door SUV. In my eyes, this decision goes against the original concept of the model, which was to be anti-retro and to stand out from the crowd.
Yes, it’s French and yes, it’s not perfect. But I still look at it and smile, knowing I made the right decision in buying it - which is lucky, because the resale value is shocking.