First Drive: DS 3


The DS 3 has been a hugely popular car, selling more units here in the UK than in its native France. Offering a cheaper alternative to the likes of MINI and Audi, the DS 3 always offered fun styling and decent levels of standard equipment.

This latest model brings the car's design into line with the rest of the DS range, as well as including a greater amount of standard technology. Has it improved the successful formula? AOL Cars heads to its launch to find out.

What is it?

The new DS 3 sits as the smallest, most popular car in the DS range, and is a big deal for the company. Now, there's two new engines to choose from and completely revised trim choices. Although keeping the same architecture as the previous-generation car, there's no more Citroen badging to be found anywhere on the vehicle.

We managed to get a test of a DS 3 featuring the new Puretech 130 engine – a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit that aims to provide plenty of power and economy.

What's under the bonnet?

As mentioned, this DS 3 has the Puretech 130 engine under the bonnet. Despite being a three-cylinder, it produces 128bhp and can reach 62mph in a respectable 8.9 seconds. With brisk acceleration, you'd think that economy would take a dive. However, the DS 3 returns an impressive 62.8mpg combined, while emitting just 105g/km CO2.

Although there's a little bit of lag after pressing the accelerator, the performance that the engine delivers should be enough for most drivers and is more than enough for a spirited drive through country lanes. Ideal then, for a fun hatch.

If you're looking for the best possible fuel economy, there's also a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel, which returns 78.5mpg, and can still reach 62mph in 9.3 seconds, topping out at 118mph.

What's the spec like?

The DS 3 is offered in three core trim levels – Chic, Elegance and Prestige. Even base specification Chic comes with air-conditioning, alloys wheels and a new seven-inch colour touchscreen as standard. That touchscreen system works well, and entering a destination into the satellite navigation is simple enough.

As well as this, you'll find LED daytime running lights, which incorporate the DS logo into their design. It's a small touch, but one that does well to show that DS are thinking about the intricacies of the car.

Prestige sits at the top of the specification sheet, and that's what came fitted to our test car. This brings with it 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and an upgraded stereo system.

First Drive: DS3

First Drive: DS3

Thankfully, everything feels well fitted together and the cabin is light and airy. Visibility is good, and there's a decent amount of adjustability to the seat. One criticism is the central arm rest – it's mounted at just the right height that you bash into it with every gear change, prompting you to fold it upwards. It's not a crucial element, but something that you feel would have been spotted earlier on.

Any rivals?

Unfortunately for the DS 3, there's a wide variety of alternatives. There's the ever-popular MINI Cooper, as well as the Fiat 500. You can also look at premium alternatives such as the Audi A1. As far as options go, those looking at the DS 3 are spoilt for choice.

What's it like to drive?

As far as hatches go, it's a pretty enjoyable experience on the road. The handling is decent enough, and reacts well to being thrown into corners at speed. Thankfully, the ride is relatively supple, and isn't too jostling over bumps and potholes. The engine, though small, feels like it has a decent amount of power for the size of car that it is powering, and never feels like it needs any extra.

The gearbox has a decent enough action to it, but the car does feel a touch energetic on the motorway – something that could be blamed on the light steering. The car manages to see a compromise between country-lane fun and motorway comfort though, and that's something to be proud of.

The Puretech engine does deliver an energetic exhaust note, and sounds much sportier than its output would lead you to believe. It does add to the package, and if you're in the cabrio the open-air element of the car allows even more noise to be enjoyed.

There's plenty of space inside, though taller passengers may struggle for headroom in the rear seats thanks to a sloping roofline. Up front, there's a strange omission of cupholders - something that drivers have come to expect for some time now - and despite decent size door bins there isn't a huge amount of storage space.

AOL Cars Verdict

This new DS 3 had a lot to live up to. Granted, it is a facelift – but a new offering of engines and an increased range of equipment is enough to separate it from the previous generation.

First and foremost, it's a fun car to be in and around. That's important with this type of vehicle, as cars such as the DS 3 are often being bought more for the way they look and feel than how they drive. That said, its on-road characteristics are also impressive. Yes, if you're looking for sharper handling you may want to look in the MINI direction, but, overall, time spent behind the wheel is pleasant enough.

DS has done well to build upon the previous generation's fun interior, adding up-to-date technology that buyers have come to expect, such as satellite navigation. Add on top of that the option of having the DS 3 in cabrio form, and you're greeted by a car that really should bring with it a great deal of popularity.

As previously mentioned, the DS has been more popular in the UK than across the water in France. Given the way this latest model presents itself, we can't see any reason why that feat won't be repeated again.


Model: DS 3 Puretech 130 Prestige
Price: £18,795
Engine: 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power: 128bhp
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Max Speed: 127mph
Economy: 62.8mpg (combined)
Emissions (CO2): 105g/km