This Citroen’s no citron

The only thing lemon-like about the DS3 is its sig­na­ture shade

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

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.

NOW

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.

SMITHY SAYS

Worth a look if you want to be dif­fer­ent. It’s solid, with de­cent per­for­mance and vice-like grip on the road.

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