Top Trumps, anyone? The first card is the super-stylish Volvo C30 D2 ES. Its opponent, the ever-popular Citroen DS3 1.6 HDI. These particular specifications face each other as the prices are similar. The Volvo costs £18,395 and the Citroen £17,695. First point to the cheaper DS3. The Swedish coupé fights back with its striking bodywork that looks better than a million pound cheque. Nothing wrong with the DS3's looks – but it cannot compete.
The Volvo C30 has a 1.6-litre 115PS diesel engine. The DS3 has the same cubic capacity and fuel type, but only produces 110PS. Despite this it is quicker to 62mph - 9.8 seconds compared to 11.3. In this class performance is important, so point to the Citroen. Once again its Swedish rival returns fire. The C30 averages a mighty 65.7mpg but the DS3 only manages 62.8mpg. That said, the Frenchman has lower emissions and cheaper road tax.
This makes the scores Volvo two, Citroen three. Better news still, for the DS3, is that its handling is sportier and more engaging than its competitor. It feels vibrant, alert, and ready to punch above its weight. By contrast, the C30's 'saloon' underpinnings make it more comfortable cruiser than plaything. It can be driven hard, but lack of steering feel suggests this is more fashion statement than sporty thoroughbred. Volvo two, Citroen four.