Citroen DS3 Performance evo’s visual content editor gets his hands on Citroën’s posh hot hatch to see if it delivers as a drivers’ car.
’It’s fast, it’s got a manual gearbox and it’s yellow.’ When the editor used those words to hint at what I’d be driving for the next few months, the DS 3 Performance (DS being the luxury sub-brand of Citroën) wasn’t the first car that came to my mind, but perhaps that’s one of the reasons why it’s such an intriguing prospect.
The ingredients for the Fast Fleet’s latest arrival are interesting. It has a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with 205bhp and 221lb ft of torque, making the car good for claims of ‘I 0-62mph in 6.5sec and 143mph flat out. There’s also a close-ratio six-speed ’box, a Torsen limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, DS Performance sports suspension (a wider track and a 15mm lower ride height than the standard DS 3) and a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. It’s a car to be taken seriously, then, even in Bumblebee spec. The colour won’t be to all tastes, but I happen to think Sport Yellow works well with the DS 3’s quirky looks.
For the basic price of £23,335 you get a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, xenon headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. The optional GT Pack fitted here (£1000) adds an upgraded hi-fi system, satnav, a reversing camera, predictive city braking and parking sensors.
I’m cautiously optimistic about the DS 3 Performance, as the spec looks promising and I really want it to deliver. However, I have a conflict burning in the back of my mind, namely the contrast between the DS brand ethos and my personal expectations of a good hot hatch.
DS, in Citroën’s words, is ‘an exclusive blend of technology, craftsmanship, avant-garde style and attention to detail’. I can’t be the only one who reads that and thinks it sounds more leather furniture maker than hot-hatch builder. Great hot hatches are usually the opposite of all of those things: basic, slightly unhinged and even a little rough around the edges. But I’ll keep an open mind.
My first drive in the DS 3 proved enlightening, as the car had to deal with a multitude of different scenarios in a single journey: tight country lanes around our office in Bedfordshire, 45 miles of motorway and, as I’m a Londoner, the craterlike potholes of the city’s streets.
Pleasingly, the DS 3 handled all of these with relative ease. That said, the car is noticeably stiff, although this does send out the right message and contradicts my preconception that this could be more of a warm hatch than a properly hot one.
Whether this is actually the case is something we’ll discover over the coming months; the DS 3 is a curious package and one that I suspect will reveal itself in small but significant ways every time I drive it. It’s certainly not an obvious hot hatch choice, but it could be a refreshing option for those seeking something a little different. Whether it’s a good kind of different or proof that you should stick to what you know, I’m looking to finding out.
Date acquired May #2017
Total mileage 1490
Mileage this month 1216
Costs this month £0
Mpg this month 41.8
‘There’s a contrast between the DS brand ethos and my personal expectations of a good hot hatch’