Citroen DS3 Review – Anti Retro

Citroen are going through somewhat of a crisis. Not one that frequents the gentlemans underwear after a heavy night of drinking, nor one that happens when somebody reaches that ‘Middle Age’.

Infact, Citroen are going through ‘The Change’. It seems that Cit-ro-en are infact changing the way they look, adapting to suit the modern world and attract buyers from other manufacturers. Let’s face it, when did you last look at buying a new Citroen?

In doing this they have created a new corporate identity, a new more liquid metal looking logo, newly kitted out showrooms which is being undertaken over the next year. More importantly. . . the introduction of a host of brand new cars, built to incredible standards. This is not going to be pretty. . . for other manufacturers, Citroen have their game face on.

The new C3 came out in January of this year, followed by the DS3 in February. The C3 will be featured in another review later on.

The DS3 was released as a sporty, funky, premium version of the C3. It has the ‘must have’ gadgety factor and has been hailed as one of ‘Stuff’ magazines coolest possessions of 2010. This being said, it’s greatest ability is that it’s the most customisable car you can buy on the market today (by that we mean by the mass manufacturers). Different colour roof, alloys, dashboard, you can even have a pattern on the roof, urban tribe, vibe, spots or zebra.

With this being so, you can buy the poverty spec model and kit it out to look like the range topping Dsport, with L.E.D running lights, bigger alloys, spoiler you are so so spoiled for choice. With no model designation badge on the car, your friends won’t be able to tell if you’ve spent £12,000 or £17,000.

There are 3 main models in the range, Dsign, Dstyle and Dsport and a ‘wallet saving special’ Dstyle 99G which is a super efficient tax busting eco model.

You can have, a 1.4 Petrol, 1.6 120bhp Petrol or the range topping 1.6 150 Turbo Petrol (THP), in Derve, you have a 1.6 90bhp or 110bhp. The engines you can have, depend on the trim level you select. Believe it or not, the Dsport which is the best spec you can buy, has so far, proven to be the most popular.

So how does this thing drive? Not like a Citroen.

We mean this in the nicest possible way, this is a focused driving machine, this isn’t your usual ‘people carrying’ softy. The moment you step inside you are surrounded by incredible materials and incredible build quality. From the cold touch plastic on the flat bottom steering wheel to the memory foam upper layer on the seats. Something makes me think, the French have got it in for the Germans, and with the DS3, this makes the Mini look old fashioned, BMW have something of a cold sweat going on at the moment, we think we know the cause.

Invited to a driving day at Rockingham Race Track by Citroen, we got to grips with the DS3 in all it’s guises, along with the Mini, Fiat 500 and Alfa Romeo Mito.

The DS3, loves to rev and does share the same Petrol engines as the Mini. The 150THP DS3 will reach 0-62 in 7.3 seconds. The steering weighs up at speed to give you feeling and the whole car is incredibly tight and composed around corners. The Dsign and Dstyle are softer in comparison to the Dsport, but that is classed as the ‘Sport/Hot’ version of the vehicle which sports a snappier gearchange and a harder suspension set up which makes it a fun and engaging drive.

The diesels are very refined, very little noise enters the cabin with a powerful and torquey uptake. Just what you expect from PSAs highly acclaimed range of engines.

The Mini also felt incredibly well sorted as a drivers car, however the Fiat 500 was only really there to compare the customisation options but although I was personally impressed with the ride of the car many others were not. The Alfa Romeo Mito was something I was secretly looking forward to putting through it’s paces, it however did not live up to my expectations at all, and my driving partner with me at the wheel, felt increasingly sick as we bounced and wollowed round the track. I can only assume it’s because of the Fiat Grande Punto chassis that it shares, otherwise the build quality is very good and as a everyday car shouldn’t be overlooked. With no Bias, the DS3 was the most impressive car of the day, very roomy inside (looking at you here Mini) you can sit 4 full size people in the vehicle, which we tried, whilst spinning around on a skid pan. DS3 is a brilliant package, it’s a premium, quality, exclusive motor at competitive prices.

Driven on the roads, to which we have extensively taken care of to our enjoyment, you could not want or need better quality in such a car.  It’s so quiet, so smooth and so refined.

Something we were all surprised with on the day was a briefing about pricing, options and the dreaded word that in the new car industry sounds a bit like ‘death’, ‘Depreciation’. We all know French cars, especially big ones, suffer the worst. However you may want to tighten the grip on your mouse and pinch you skin because you are not going to believe this, ‘CAP’ who are the market standard of trade/book prices on vehicles have predicted this. Spec a Mini to the hilt and you’ll have spent the best part of £25,000, do the same to the DS3 and you’ll have spent around £19,000. Yet, after 3 years when you come to trade both in, you will receive MORE money for the DS3 even with it’s initial, lower, price tag. Citroen’s trying and pushing hard with this one.

The DS3 is going to make waves in the industry, as a car it’s brilliant, as a fashion accessory it’s brilliant. It’s prices are brilliant and it drives better than the competition.

Anti-Retro, too right, Citroen are setting the pace with this. I can’t wait for the DS4.

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