First Drive: DS 3
Light updates for a car which has a big job to do, says Alex Grant.
Sector: Supermini Price: £13,995–£24,795 Fuel: 52.3–83.1mpg CO2: 87–125g/km
Although the DS 3 is the last ex-Citroën to be de-chevroned, doing so is the most important step this car has made since its 2010 launch. The once unlikely-sounding rival to the MINI and Fiat 500 hasn’t just made the French premium brand possible, it’s now the car that’ll help get DS noticed.
It has form. Charming, fun to drive, and with low CO2 on its side, Citroën has found homes for 390,000 of them globally, with over a quarter in its largest market – the UK. This is exactly the well-targeted, aspirational car DS needs to succeed – and, with the next all-new car not due until 2018, it has to be.
So the applecart is predictably upright. There are no sheet metal changes, just a new grille and front bumper, while the interior is pitching for the tech-savvy with its high-resolution version of PSA’s touchscreen system, deleting 20 physical buttons. Though it’s starting to feel its age, modern smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink does a lot to lift what was already a neatly designed cabin.
The line-up comprises Chic, Elegance and Prestige versions, with diesels from £15,895. Range-lowest CO2 comes from the BlueHDI 100 diesel, which is a great fit, but the cheaper 110bhp and 130bhp three-cylinder petrols are 105g/km or less. The Cabrio adds £2,300 over the equivalent hatchback, with a neat fabric roof which can retract at motorway speeds. There’s no loss of cabin space, but a 100% reduction in rear visibility with it fully reclined, and restricted access to the otherwise respectably generous boot.
Granted, the ride is a little firm, and perhaps five doors would help broaden its appeal, but the DS 3 struck a chord at launch and this light refresh can’t do it, or DS, any harm.