Driven: Citroen DS3 Racing - PistonHeads | Catalog-cars

Driven: Citroen DS3 Racing – PistonHeads

17 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Driven: Citroen DS3 Racing – PistonHeads
Citroen DS3

DRIVEN: CITROEN DS3 RACING

Is it a hot hatch? Is it a track car? Is it something more sophisticated?

Cars, and I’m sure I needn’t explain why, cannot be afflicted by mental disorders, but if they did then the Citroen DS3 Racing would most definitely be a sufferer. Quite of what, however, I’m not certain.

Whatever the clinical term is, it’s something to do with split personalities. Basically it’s either bi-polar disorder or some sort of schizophrenia, because the DS3 Racing has no idea what sort of car it wants to be.

On the one hand you would be forgiven for thinking of it as an out-and-out boy racer’s favourite. It’s called the DS3 Racing, for a start, which you’d think would give you some clue to the tone the car is trying to set. Then there’s the black-and-tan paint job and the outlandish graphics (though the car can be had in more subtle shades of black and white, while the graphics are an optional extra).

In short, the racy DS3’s looks invite you to draw certain conclusions – namely that this is a pretty hardcore beast, perhaps in the mould of some of the more rapid Clios. There’s even more than a hint of fast Saxo in there.

The funny thing is that it doesn’t take you more than half a mile to realise that the DS3 Racing has far more sophisticated aspirations than that. Much like it’s more everyday DS3 Brethren, the Racing has distinctly premium ambitions – this is a car that’s after a slice of the same premium-in-miniature pie that Mini has had more or less to itself for the past decade.

This is, says Citroen, actually a sophisticated performance hatch that can play the everyday commute and still turn on the fun when you want it as opposed to an uncompromised track fiend. Thus, set against the Max Power-esque visuals is a pretty high kit count, including integrated sat-nav (although it’s hardly the paragon of easy-to-use virtue) and some racy-looking but squishily comfortable chairs.

But as well as having the luxury trappings, the DS3 Racing also behaves in a grown-up way on the road. It’s quiet and refined on the move, the 204bhp 1.6-litre turbo motor pulls with a most grown-up linearity, and all the controls work with the sort of damped oiliness that we’ve come to expect of ‘proper’ premium offerings.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with this ‘premium’ feel, but it just sits so oddly with the boy racer flipside of the car’s personality. A perfect example is the liberal spreading of carbon fibre around the car. It’s real stuff, and it’s nicely made, but it’s there for show as opposed to weight saving.

See what I mean by a confused personality?

Even the name isn’t quite right. It’s called the DS3 Racing, but is built by Citroen Racing, the same chaps who make the rally cars that have dominated the top level of rallying for the past decade. So why not actually have a go on playing to that heritage?

Still, for whatever reason Citroen has decided not to, and so we end up with a car from a manufacturer that specialises in rallying, that looks like an extrovert track hatch, but whose dynamic brief is to deliver its performance and handling in a such a way that doesn’t compromise it as an everyday proposition.

At this point you might well have given up on the DS3. If you want an out-and-out flingable performance car you’re clearly better off visiting your Renault dealer, whereas if you want to ‘customise’ your new car with lurid decals, shiny bits and big wheels, well, you probably know the way to the nearest Halfords. And even if your heart is still set on the Citroen, a price that nudges Ј23.5k might make you gulp a bit.

But if you’re still keen and you’re sold on those love-’em-or-hate-’em looks, you might just be pleasantly surprised. Because the hot DS3, like its more humble siblings, goes, stops and steers with more than a modicum of competence.

Citroen DS3

Okay, so it’s not the most exhilarating thing to drive, but it’s more than capable of etching a grin onto your face.

The steering and gearchange aren’t perfect, but both are reasonably direct even though they lack that n th degree of precision. The short wheelbase, meanwhile, makes the thing eminently chuckable, and you can even turn off the ESP, unlike with any other Citroen.

There is, in short, quite a decent car hiding beneath all that confusion – and profusion – of conflicting personalities. If only it could sort out what it wanted to be. And perhaps didn’t cost quite so much.

Dimensions (L x W x H) (mm) 3962 x 1717 x 1443

Wheelbase (mm) 2464

Engine/Transmission THP 207hp/6-speed manual

Max power CEE hp/kW @ rpm 207/152 @ 6000

Max torque CEE (Nm) @ rpm 275 @ 2000 to 4500

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