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Citroën DS3 –

23 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Citroën DS3 –
Citroen DS3

Citroën DS3

Although Citroën labels its new DS3 as being #8220;anti-retro#8221;, the brand nevertheless hopes some of the cachet of the original DS rubs off on its important new style leader. It will have to, because DS3 goes head-to-head with one of the icons-of-cool of the past decade, the Mini Cooper.

Citroën#8217;s positioning of the DS3 as not being a retro design, but historically inspired yet modern, is therefore perfectly understandable, seeing as it positions the DS3 as being the opposite of retro, and therefore also the Mini, which is an undeniably retro design. In a way, and through cheeky advertising, Citroën is also labelling the Mini Cooper as being a bit #8220;old hat#8221;.

It is actually quite amazing that the success of the Mini Cooper is only now starting to lure some other manufacturers into the premium mini segment. After all, the typical Mini buyer is any car company#8217;s dream client #8211; willing to pay more for less, and then willing to pay some more still for all the accessories.

The DS3 enters the Mini#8217;s domain with almost an opposite approach #8211; it offers more than the Mini, but for less, and yet with similar style appeal and an even more diverse personalisation programme.

With pricing starting at just under R200 000 for the entry-level 88 kW DS3 Style, the Citroën doesn#8217;t only undercut the Cooper, but also packs a very comprehensive standard features list. The top model at the moment #8211; until the fiery DS3R arrives before year-end, possibly #8211; is the DS3 Sport, priced at R255 000. Ironically, the DS3 and Cooper/S share petrol engines, both being powered by either normally-aspirated or turbocharged 1,6-litre powerplants.

Citroën will add an automatic transmission later in the year #8211; for the now the 88 kW model has a five-speed manual ‘box with a typically French long-throw gearshift action, while the 115 kW Sport model has a far snappier six-speed manual ‘box.

But perhaps the French car#8217;s biggest advantage over its German/British rival is its space #8211; the boot is far more capacious than the Mini#8217;s, and the DS3#8242;s rear bench can actually be used by adults with legs.

There is, however, more of an ambience in the Mini#8217;s retro cabin. The DS3#8242;s facia design borrows heavily from the C3 #8211; not a bad thing, as it is modern, nicely detailed and well-finished #8211; but it only gains flair when you start delving into the very comprehensive personalisation programme.

You can have facia trim in any of seven colours, for example, and change the colour of gear knobs and so forth, too.

The driving position is definitely sportier than in the C3, courtesy of body-hugging seats with a nice range of adjustment (also available in a variety of trim materials and colours), and a comparatively high centre console. And the conical instrumentation is really smart. Just the sound system#8217;s readout is difficult to make out under harsh light.

On the road, the 88 kW 1,6 VTi model reminds very much of the C3 in its dynamic behaviour, which I don#8217;t personally view as that car#8217;s best attribute. The ride could do with a little extra refinement #8211; but that said, the DS3 does ride better than a Mini Cooper. The trade-off is, of course, that it#8217;s not quite as sharp in the corners as its rival, especially because the steering feel is inconsistent and there#8217;s more body roll.

However, for most buyers of the 1,6 VTi this will not be the high priority, and most will find it entirely acceptable.

Buyers of the 115 kW Sport model will, however, expect a sharper drive. And for the most part this is what they#8217;ll get. The extra grunt is welcome, especially because so much of it is on tap quite low-down, and the six-speed box makes accessing the extra power more pleasurable too.

The ride and even the steering feel are more spot-on as well. Citroën claims a 0-100 km/h time of 7,3 seconds and a 214 km/h top speed.

But in the end I suspect the DS3#8242;s dynamic ability is not that important in the greater scheme of things. On paper, it offers a number of advantages over the Mini Cooper #8211; space, spec, comfort, cheaper price etc #8211; but the big question is something entirely different. And in this segment I don#8217;t think it even concerns the buying public#8217;s perceptions of the Citroën brand #8211; resale value, service and so forth.

It comes down to desirability.

Do you find the Citroën DS3#8242;s design appealing/cool/funky/sexy enough? Will it impress the high-society circles you move in? These are seemingly superficial things, but the truth is that they rank high on the priority list for a Mini Cooper buyer#8230;

Citroen DS3

The DS3 certainly tries hard #8211; those near vertical front LED daytime running lights look like fangs, giving the car tremendous overtaking presence. I like it even more in profile, with the so-called shark-fin B-pillar design lending it an air of dynamism. And, of course, finished in some of the bright colours on offer, with some very funky alloy wheel designs and even roof #8220;tattoos#8221;, the DS3 can be tailored to your heart#8217;s desire.

But does it work? Let me put it this way#8230; During our test drive, the DS3 attracted a lot of attention, and not only from other Citroën drivers, either. From well-to-do ladies in Range Rovers to young gents with spiky hair in Golf GTIs, they all ogled the newcomer from France in unashamed fashion, often giving the universal sign for approval, the thumbs-up.

This is a good sign for Citroën. Frederic Chapuis, Citroën South Africa#8217;s boss, says Mini sells around 150 units a month locally, and that he would be happy to move 50 DS3s a month. I suspect he#8217;s being very conservative#8230;


DS3 1,6 VTi Style R199 000

DS3 1,6 THP Sport R255 000

Techno and Design trim packs are offered on 1,6 VTi model

Prices include a 3 years/100 000 km warranty and 4 years/60 000 km service plan.

Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
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