- Fun to drive
- Stylish and chic supermini
- Low running costs
- Interior space, especially in the rear is a little cramped
- Glovebox is very shallow
- MINI pips the DS 3 for driving dynamics
DS is growing its brand. Revisions have come in the guise of the 4 and the 5 and now, it’s the turn of the DS 3. The DS 3 is one of the most popular superminis in the UK and it outsells its more sedate cousin the C3. UK drivers’ love affair with a fun supermini continues. Has the refreshed DS 3 got what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the MINI Hatchback, Fiat’s 500 and the Audi A1? Read on to find out…
The DS 3 is a car that is instantly recognisable and this is a good thing in a market where it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Not only is it fun to drive, but it allows you to personalise the car – a big plus for many potential buyers of superminis.
So what’s new? The DS 3 edition has been given a revised front end - the vertical grille surrounded by chrome makes a bold statement and is in line with the latest versions of the DS 4 and the DS 5. The DS 3 also comes with ‘LED Vision’ headlights and scrolling directional indicators have also been introduced, which combine LED and xenon technology.
Other noticeable highlights include what the DS boffins call shark-fin flicks on the B-pillar and the trademark ‘floating roof, which was a hallmark of the previous car.
On The Road
DS is offering a number of petrol and diesel engines on its chariot. Our favourite of the bunch is the PureTech 130. The engine is a three-cylinder petrol plant producing 128bhp and 230Nm of torque. Even though it may not sound that powerful, this unit has lots of oomph, knock it down a gear to overtake, the engine picks up the revs and away you go.
The 163bhp 1.6 THP 165 four-cylinder unit is good too and even though it has more power than the PureTech 130, it just doesn’t feel as zippy. Both cars are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Other engines offered include lower-powered PureTech three cylinder engines – these include an 80bhp PureTech 82 and 108bhp PureTech 110 while the DS 3 Performance flagship car receives a 208bhp version of the THP engine.
Two diesel engines are offered in the guise of the BlueHDi 100 producing 98bhp and the BlueHDI 120 producing 118bhp. After driving both, we prefer the petrol units, they feel more at home in the little supermini and the petrol units are certainly are pick of the bunch.
The DS 3 has always been great fun to drive and the great news is that it still is great fun. The problem, well the DS 3 is in a packed sector and the competition is serious when you take in to account rivals such as the MINI Hatchback and the Audi A1. The DS 3 feels nimble and agile while there is good feedback from the direct steering. The downside, the DS 3 has is that it’s not quite as good to drive as the MINI, it is, however, better than Fiat’s super chic 500.
Surprisingly comfy – after spending a lot of time in the cabin, the well-bolstered front seats make long journeys a joy and not a chore. Rivals could learn a thing or two from the comfiness of the seats. Due to the nature of the car, a chic supermini with a sporty side, the ride is a tad firm and for some that may be a little off-putting, however, for the majority of DS 3 buyers the ride will be exactly what they desire.
Our advice is to choose the smallest wheel, as the little DS 3 is size sensitive when it comes to alloys and the larger you go, the more noticeable those potholes will be.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Jump in and you will find that the interior has been given a huge refresh. There has been a de-cluttering of the dash making the cabin much cleaner and the media system much easier to use.
Six equipment grades are offered – Chic, Elegance, Prestige, Ultra Prestige, Performance and Performance Black.
Even on the entry-level Chic model, there is a good level of kit. Features include air-con, a seven-inch touchscreen, which itself houses Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink technology and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Elegance adds LED front fog lights, sports seats, cloth trim, automatic air-con, rear parking sensors and an automatic emergency services call feature in the event of an accident.
Highlights on the Prestige trims adds sat-nav, Alcantara upholstery, front parking sensors and 17-inch wheels.
Ultra Prestige sits at the higher end of the trims. It features ‘watchstrap’ leather seats.
Fancy a sport grade? Then you have to look at the flagship models of the DS 3. Performance versions get the flagship engine (THP 210 petrol) a sports suspension, a Torsen limited-slip differential and Brembo brakes, while Performance Plus receives matt black paint finish and the option of a gold roof.
Personalisation is easy for DS 3 customers and DS offer 78 different roof and body colour combinations – that should keep you going for quite some time.
Space & Practicality
Unfortunately space and practicality has never been one of the strong points for the DS 3. As this model is only a light refresh, not much has changed here. The boot space on offer is the same 285-litre that what was on offer with the previous car. Storage in the cabin is at a premium so keep those niks-naks to a minimum and the glovebox, well it is has the same problem as before, the fuse box is still located here cutting useable space in half.
If it’s the most frugal DS 3 that floats your boat, then look no further than the BlueHDi 100 diesel engine. It emits 87g/km of CO2, which, is a truly stunning score. Whether you are a private individual, or a business driver then these figures should make you more than happy. In fact you should be snapping the sales person’s hand off.
Quality & Reliability
Reliability has been on the up for the French maker. Even when badged a Citroen, the little DS 3 fared well in the reliability stakes. Now a DS, it is much the same thing but it should be even more reliable thanks to the hard work at Citroen/ DS towers.
Safety & Security
The DS 3 is a very safe car according to the crash test experts Euro NCAP, the previous car achieved five stars and there is no reason that this car will fare any worse. It too looks like a five star car thanks to a couple of systems that have been added including a low-speed automatic braking system, and an SOS and Assistance Pack, which automatically calls emergency services in the event of an accident.