This Citroen’s no citron
The only thing lemon-like about the DS3 is its signature shade
At the upper end of the small car market, Citroen’s DS3 is a fun little device that looks good, performs well, has plenty of features and sets you apart from the run-of-the-mill smallcar owning population.
Most small cars are bought by people wanting economy of transport first and foremost. That’s not what the little Citroen is about. It’s for people who want to have fun at the wheel and are happy to have it in a small, city-sized package.
The DS3 looks like a bundle of fun even standing still, with its zippy looks and sporty stance, large wheels that fill out the guards, and spoilers and blackout panels.
It was offered in two versions, the stylish DStyle that put looks ahead of performance, and the DSport that cranked up the go-fast factor.
The DStyle came with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with class average output that gave it acceptable performance on the road, while the DSport was powered by a turbocharged version of the same engine and injected it with the zippiness to match its looks.
The transmission choices were limited to a four-speed auto if you chose the DStyle, and a six-speed manual if your choice was the DSport. Both were front-wheel drive.
On the road the DS3 handled as you might expect with a wheel at each corner anchoring it to the road. It got along well enough on the open highway, but it really came into its own when pushed along a winding road where it hugged the tarmac like a long-lost sibling.
Small cars like the DS3 are often compromised when it comes to cabin space and the Citroen was no exception. It’s best suited to singles or couples, isOK if your kids are small, but it struggles with a full complement of four adults aboard.
Some small cars are also compromised when it comes to features, but not the DS3 in this case. It had air, cruise, sixspeaker sound, alloy wheels and fog lamps.
It was also on the money when it came to safety with ABS braking, ESP stability control, and front, head and side airbags standard, all of which added up to a five-star tick from ANCAP.
As we’ve written before, buying a Citroen should be a considered decision, not one driven by emotion.
While it’s an old and respected brand in its home country, and loved by a few fanatics here, it’s had a somewhat chequered history in this country. Over the years it has come and gone, different distributors have handled the brand, and dealers have changed. That said, it’s been relatively stable for some time now, which should give buyers some comfort.
Before buying a Citroen check where you would get it serviced; dealers aren’t on every street corner. Consider an independent specialist, hopefully a factory-trained mechanic who has struck out on his own after spending time learning the brand with a dealer.
Consider having your potential choice checked by an expert in the brand, one who is familiar with the quirks. Thoroughly test drive it to make sure you’re comfortable with the choice, driving it in as many varying situations as possible.
Look for evidence of crash damage, making sure repairs are up to scratch. Also look for oil leaks around the engine, check the oil, get down and look at the tyres for even wear and signs of having been thrashed. Make the usual checks for a service record; it’s vital for a long life that a car has been serviced as per the recommended service schedule.
Worth a look if you want to be different. It’s solid, with decent performance and vice-like grip on the road.