The Citroen DS3 range received a consolidation update earlier this year that saw the introduction of a new turbo engine as well exterior and interior updates. As it stands, there are five models in the range which now includes the DS3 Cabriolet and four hatchback models. We spent some time with the top-of-the-range DS3 Sport derivative to see how it weighs up against its main rival, the Mini Cooper.
Fashionista StylingHats off to Citroen for breaking the mould and challenging design convention with the DS3. From the outside, it certainly looks funky and posh. In terms of styling, the chic DS3 Sport is fitted with attractive DS LED Vision headlights and all-round chrome trim gives the car a sophisticated and elegant look. Key styling features include a 'floating roof' and 'shark-fin' seen in the C-pillar with attractive 17-inch dark alloy wheels rounding off the look. One of the strengths of the DS3 is the customisation options which include various roof and interior variations to make it your own. This handbag on wheels certainly aims to please...
Watch this video to learn more about the Citroen DS3 Sport!
Interior AnticsOn the inside, well-bolstered leather seats are standard, providing comfort and support while subtly hinting that the DS3 is more than just a pretty face. The inner door panels are adorned in leather too, which adds to the premium feel in the cabin and the driving position is quite sporty as you nestle low into the seat. There are no buttons on the steering wheel and Citroen has rather opted for stalks placed behind the steering wheel, which allows you to control the radio, Bluetooth and navigation. However, the process of figuring out the functional intricacies of the system was time consuming, tedious and frustrating.
As an alternative, you can also use the small buttons placed on the centre console to navigate via the 7-inch screen, but this too proved to be difficult and distracting. It’s a pity that Citroen didn’t make the functionality of the eMyWay navigation system and Hi-Fi system more user-friendly, as this fact alone is enough drive anybody into a wall, literally. Then there’s the central armrest that gets in the way of the handbrake when in position - a mere oversight or deliberate sabotage? It's main rival, the Mini has the same problem mind you.
Apart from the ergonomic issues in the DS3, it still comes well equipped with automatic climate control, USB and Aux inputs, a MP3/CD player with six speakers and electric windows. The flat-bottomed steering wheel adds a sporty touch and is adjustable for rake and reach.
In terms of space, the driver and passenger are well-sorted. Larger and taller rear passengers however will have to limber up as head, shoulder and legroom is tight. Boot size is adequate at 285-litres and expands to 980-litres with the split rear seats folded down and ISOFIX child seat mounts are fitted as standard too.
Punchy PerformerPerformance is where the Citroen DS3 Sport makes up for its interior frustrations. Under the bonnet lies a superb engine, which previously powered the MINI Cooper. It’s a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit that offers up 120 kW and 240 Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a relatively smooth, occasionally notchy, 6-speed manual transmission.
The DS3 Sport is responsive to throttle inputs and acceleration is quick and direct. Citroen claims 8.1 seconds for the DS3 Sport to reach 100kph from standstill, but in real life it feels a bit faster. In-gear acceleration is good too, which means you can exploit the power in just about any gear which will help you execute overtaking manoeuvres easily out on the highway. In town, the DS3 Sport is punchy and darts about with purpose and the engine is pretty quiet too, going about its business in a civilised and refined manner.
To complement its extrovert performance, the DS3 handles well and even when cornering at pace, it hugs the road with surety and never leaves the driver sweating. Body roll is minimal and the suspension is well tuned to be both comfortable and sporty, resulting in good ride quality overall.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.6L/100km and during our time with the DS3 Sport, we easily managed 8.2L/100km, a figure that should be easy to beat with a more focussed driving approach. The automatic Stop Start system helps reduce consumption further too.
Safety FeaturesPotential customers will be pleased to know that the DS3 Sport comes well equipped in terms of safety and is fitted with a total of six airbags and has a 5-star EuroNCAP safety rating. Other safety features include ABS with EBS, Brake Assist, traction control, electronic stability control and park distance control.
Citroen DS3 Sport – Price in South AfricaPricing for the top-of-the-range DS3 Sport starts at R329 900. If that’s a stretch too far then you might want to consider the entry-level 60 kW Design derivative which, starts at R239 900. If you feeling adventurous, the DS3 Cabrio will set your hair free at R304 900.
Prices include a 3-year/100 000 km warranty, a 4-year/60 000 km service plan and three years of 24-hour AA Roadside Assistance. A 5-year/100 000 km warranty extension and FreeDrive (5-year/100 000 km warranty plus 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan) can be had at additional cost.
VerdictThe Citroen DS3 Sport is a stylish package that happens to be a blast to drive thanks to its excellent engine. The DS3 does have its faults and some might find the usability of its systems frustrating. With limited rear space for average-size passengers, the DS3 is more suited to singles or couples who are not too phased about carrying passengers. If you don’t like the Mini Cooper and want something that's a bit more elegant with power to match, then the DS3 Sport could very well be the car for you. It's certainly cheaper than a Mini too.
Test Team OpinionThe Citroen DS3 hits the right notes as far as a funky city hatch goes. Add some power to it, like this test model and it becomes a blast to drive too. The interior is a premium place to sit but the buttons and functionality are difficult to comprehend. -Ashley Oldfield
The Citroen DS3 makes the Mini Cooper look vastly overpriced for what's essentially a very similar product. Loaded with kit, and being fun to drive is what makes the Citroen DS3 a solid offering. I just hope Citroen's aftersales and servicing are up to par... -David Taylor
We Like: Performance, stylish looks
We Don’t Like: Interior ergonomic issues, rear passenger space
Also Look At: Mini Cooper, Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST
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