Citroen DS3 hits South Africa « The Wheel Deal

18 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Citroen DS3 hits South Africa « The Wheel Deal
Citroen DS3

Citroen DS3

hits South Africa

Posted: April 27th, 2010 | By Thomas Falkiner

Last week The Wheel Deal was invited to sample the funky new Citroën DS3 for the first time on South African turf. A new-age looker with brisk performance and a fistful of French personality to boot, it could very well be the first real fashion-conscious alternative to BMW’s very successful MINI.

Balls! How could Citroën ever give MINI a run for their money? After all, a lot of their newer cars have been exceptionally boring to look at.

Don’t bet on it! I’ll accept that the previous generation C3 and the blobby C5 are nothing to write home about but this brand new DS3 is actually quite a stunner. You see while many members of the current breed of trend-setting hatchbacks have looked back into the past for their styling cues, this sassy new Citroën has been shaped by a design language that speaks of the future.

What this means is that you get a car shaped by lots of aggressive lines and bold shapes, a car that confidently stands out from what is otherwise already available in an oversubscribed marketplace. To give you an idea, Citroën’s designers have decked it out with eye-catching exterior features like a special “floating roof,” a shark-finned B-pillar and even a pair of distinctive LED daytime running.

Throw in a range of contrasting roof and body colours and you get a lifestyle hatchback that should really flip the switches of those turned on by current fashion and design trends. Definitely not for retro-aficionados!

Okay, so it may have the visual cohunes to compete with the MINI Cooper but is their enough oomph under the bonnet to keep us keen drivers happy?

In a word, yes. At the moment there are two engine derivatives available in the new DS3 range and both are capable of delivering the goods. Under the hood of the entry-level DS3 Style model you’ll find a surprisingly zesty 1.6 fuel-injected petrol engine that delivers 88kW at 6000rpm and 160Nm at 4200rpm. The same lump that already does duty in the normally aspirated MINI Cooper, it’ll whisk the DS3 Style to 100km/h in a claimed 8.9-seconds and onwards to a maximum speed of 190km/h.

Of course this powerplant does need a fair bit of revving to achieve these figures but being smooth and eager, it’s by no means unpleasant and definitely adds to the overall driving experience.

Those looking for more bite can opt for the DS3 Sport that gets a detuned (116kW@6000rpm/240Nm@1400rpm) version of the engine that makes the MINI Cooper S such a stellar little performer. Benefiting from a turbocharger, the jump in kilowatts is immediately noticeable and gives the range-topping DS3 some rather impressive on-paper credentials. With your foot flat you can expect to eclipse the 100km/h mark in 7.3-seconds and eventually top out a license-revoking 214km/h.

Suffice to say, after driving both models, this is the one I’d recommend you shell your hard-earned Rands on; especially if you live up on power-sapping reef altitudes. Linked to a disappointingly long-travel five- or six-speed gearbox, both models return reasonable fuel economy levels; the DS3 Style pipping a claimed 5.9l/100km on the combined cycle and the DS3 Sport 6.7l/100km. CO2 emissions weigh in at 136g/km and 156g/km respectively.

Sounds good to me. What’s the new Citroën DS3 like to drive then?

So far the DS3 has faired well against its famed German adversary but unfortunately this is an arena in which it falls somewhat behind. Now I’m not saying that this Citroën is bad, quite the contrary, but it certainly doesn’t have the MINI’s go-kart-like reflexes. Instead it kind of feels like a better sprung version of the Alfa MiTo; a car that places everyday ride comfort slightly ahead of out-and-out sportiness.

However, in a scarred-street city like Johannesburg, this is a not a bad thing as the DS3 tends to soak-up everyday undulations far better than the firm-riding MINI Cooper.

In terms of steering response, there’s not a great amount of feedback to be had from the DS3’s lightly geared electronic-assistance setup but it’s certainly both quick and direct enough to satisfy the average driver in bouts of more aggressive on-road showmanship. However having said this I just can’t help but think that Citroën should have fitted one of those in-vogue “Sport” buttons to help give the steering more weight in times of need.

 Regardless, the little DS3 benefits from a competent chassis that makes it feel nimble and responsive in a variety of different driving conditions. Certainly capable of handling more power, it’s a sure sign that the more radical limited-edition DS3 Racing version should be a properly entertaining hot-hatch.

What about the interior of the Citroën DS3; does it manage to do its striking exterior any justice?

It does indeed. For even though I wasn’t too impressed with some of the plastics employed in its construction – that glove compartment molding seems a little low rent for my liking – the cabin of the DS3 is just as crisp and contemporary as its striking body shell. Sitting low in the driver’s seat the space feels very cockpit like and thanks to a comprehensive set of seat adjustments, it’s both quick and easy to get comfortable behind that chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

As in most French cars, the actual seat ergonomics are superb and there’s plenty of lateral support for when you decide to test the limits of grip through your favourite set of twisties.

Equipment levels are generous in both model variants as both benefit from air-conditioning, a radio-CD sound system with an auxiliary-in port and a comprehensive trip computer. In keeping with the rest of the car, there are some really nice design touches including a rather funky instrument cluster that, comprising of three interconnecting dials, lights up with a cool red, white and blue iridescence.

Some people might find this a bit gimmicky, a bit over-the-top, but I think it suits the character of the DS3 down to a tee. Passive safety levels are high with both the Style and the Sport models receiving six airbags, three-point seat belts and Isofix anchor points in the rear side seats as standard.

I know rivals like the Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper can be customised with a host of accessories; are there any available to spice up my DS3?

Absolutely. Citroën certainly understands the value of personalization and is offering customers a number of ways to help make the DS3 a virtual “extension” of their personalities. Starting on the inside you can colour-code your dashboard fascia, centre console and door trim. And if that’s not enough, a selection of different coloured gear knobs and foot pedals are also available.

On the outside you can choose to coat your DS3 in no less than nine shades of paint; each of which can be tastefully offset by a different roof colour, namely Onyx black, Opale white, Botticelli blue or Carmen rouge. In addition, the exterior rear-view mirror surrounds can be specced in either a coloured or chromed finish; a nice touch if you’re into this sort of thing.

Citroën also offers two distinctive accessory packs that can be bolted on – at an additional cost of course – to the entry-level DS3 Style model. First up is the Techno pack that throws in features like rear parking sensors, fully automatic climate control and a Bluetooth integration system that allows hands-free calling on your mobile phone. A USB port is also thrown in so you can play MP3 files stored on your trusty flash drive.

However those more hell-bent on juicing up the aesthetic side of things would probably plumb for the Design pack; a stylistic merging of 17-inch Bellone alloy wheels (available in black, white or silver diamond-tipped), Sport Akinen/Mistral Alcantara or full leather seat upholstery. Finishing this all off is a unique set drilled aluminum pedals for that proper rally car look and feel. Both these packs come standard on the range-topping DS3 Sport, which is very appealing from an overall value proposition.

Citroen DS3

Great, well I’m actually on the market for a small, stylish hatchback; would you recommend putting a Citroën DS3 in my garage?

I’d certainly recommend that you investigate the new DS3 and take one for a test drive if you’re considering purchasing a car in this fashion-savvy segment. I myself was very impressed with the way the Citroën drove and found both its interior and exterior styling to be fresh, bold and original.

Those looking for a more involving drive would be better off shelling out for the more expensive MINI Cooper or Cooper S, but for a style-conscious everyday driver who wants something expressive and indeed different to take them from A to B, the DS3 seems to tick all the right boxes. Unfortunately, just like the Alfa MiTo, the Citroën brand suffers from a negative aftermarket service stigma here in South Africa; something which will no doubt sway the final purchasing decisions of many potential customers. Although having said this, Citroën SA claims to be making a concerted effort in improving their aftersales service and is also making plans on expanding their dealer network around the country.

Citroën DS3 Fast Facts:

Engine: 1598cc four-cylinder petrol

Power: 88kW at 6000rpm

Torque: 160Nm at 4200rpm

0-100km/h: 8.9-seconds (claimed)

Top Speed: 190km/h (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 5.9l/100km (claimed combined)

Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
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