TWEAK HAS MIXED APPEAL
CITROEN'S DS3 has been tweaked with a little extra go, a little extra fizz and a bottom line that reflects more than $5000 of extra standard equipment, including a reversing camera, satnav and automatic emergency braking.
But there is no automatic gearbox and the starting price stands at $33,990.
So the sales target is likely to be around 150 cars in 2015. Its rivals are the Alfa MiTo, Audi A1 and Mini Cooper S.
A $4000 price increase is offset by $5500 in extra equipment. And, for the DS3 Cabrio, the increase is slightly less at $3600. Warranty coverage is double what it was in 2010, with capped-price servicing for six years.
Extra kit runs to satnav with a touch screen, parking sensors, LED mood lighting in the cabin, combined LED/Xenon headlamps and even an integrated air freshener.
Only a DS fan will pick the differences for 2015 in the lights, wheels and trim. But the new headlights combine LED and xenon technology for added brightness and more flash at the front, and there is a 3D effect to the new rear lights.
Inside, the materials are still classy, with new carbon-look trim on the dash and a bit more chrome. Since the DS3 is about customisation and personalisation, buyers can choose things like chromed mirror covers and a range of roof sticker treatments with names like Perle, Plane and Zebra.
Buyers can customise their DS3 with more than 200 possible individual combinations.
The timing of the updated DS3 reflects a move to Euro6 emissions systems, with a bonus in both power and economy.
The 1.6-litre petrol turbo picks up to 121kW with a flatter torque delivery from only 1400 revs, while fuel economy is also better by 10 per cent, helped by a stopstart system and an on-demand water pump.
Citroen says the car is also 0.2 seconds quicker in the sprint to 100km/h.
The loss of the archaic fourspeed auto is no loss at all.
The car has a 5-star crash safety score, a standard rear camera and parking sensors, and a system that unlocks the doors after a crash.
The updated DS3 only has six extra kiloWatts, but the new engine tuning makes a big difference. The car can be hustled along quite briskly thanks to the alwayson torque and six-speed manual gearbox.
It's also compliant in the ride, encouraging you to hold a high gear and flow the car along any twisty roads.
The DS3 is not for everyone, but people who like it are also likely to appreciate the improved package for 2015.
Citroen's sporty new DS3.