DRAMA-FREE DS 3 IS A TOP PER­FORMER

A com­bi­na­tion of raw power and bang for your buck makes Citroen’s new­est model a hot ticket

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE MATT KIM­BER­LEY

What’s new?

Un­veiled at the 2016 Geneva Mo­tor Show, the DS 3 Per­for­mance is at the hot and pointy end of the range. A new 1.6 litre tur­bocharged en­gine and a new gear­box are sup­ported by new springs and dampers, the lat­est Miche­lin sports tyres and huggy new seats, plus, of course, all the in­ter­face re­vi­sions of the com­mon, or gar­den va­ri­ety, DS 3.

There are two body styles: hatch­back and semi-con­vert­ible. The lat­ter has an elec­tri­cally slid­ing and fold­ing can­vas panel with a heated-glass rear screen, and is just 25kg heav­ier than the hatch­back.

Looks and im­age

Sit­ting lower and wider than stan­dard on its black wheels, the Per­for­mance is a beefy and po­tent-look­ing lit­tle car. Good colour choices have been added to the palette. Even from a dis­tance it looks more pur­pose­ful than the stan­dard car, which is no bad thing. Just watch those rims on kerbs — they sit well proud of the tyre side­wall.

Space and prac­ti­cal­ity

This was never a DS strong suit. The boot here is ac­tu­ally fine for the class, at 285 litres, but there’s barely any legroom in the back. On the other hand, if you can hap­pily pre­tend the rear seats aren’t there, you’ll be able to no­tice that there are some use­ful touches in the cabin.

There’s a large, open-faced bin at the base of the cen­tre con­sole, a slim ledge a few inches above it and spa­cious door pock­ets. That said, pick the pace up a bit and the door pock­ets will be the last place you want to leave any­thing solid.

Be­hind the wheel

A Torsen lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial and a widened track, es­pe­cially at the front, give the DS 3’s nose a real sense of pur­pose and ca­pa­bil­ity. It’s not the fastest hatch in the world, but it has plenty of poke for punch­ing out of corners, with no sign of trac­tion is­sues on the warm French Tar­mac of the test route.

The Miche­lin tyres are a bit un­for­giv­ing over bumps, adding a hard edge to the much-im­proved damp­ing. It stays super-com­posed and flat even when at­tack­ing tight bends, as long as the road is rea­son­ably smooth, but let’s just say you’ll know when you hit a pot­hole.

The new gear­box is a vast im­prove­ment, de­liv­er­ing crisp shifts with min­i­mal re­sis­tance through the cru­cial sec­ond-tothird ac­tion.

Pow­er­ing out of corners tends to lead to a bit of squirm­ing at the wheel be­cause the me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial ac­ti­vates as the turbo kicks in, but keep your foot down and ride it out — the chas­sis can cope.

Value for money

DS has priced its spicy new baby more or less in line with its tur­bocharged Euro­pean ri­vals, and the fact it’s tan­gi­bly bet­ter to drive than its Citroen-badged pre­de­ces­sor makes it bet­ter value. It has a bag full of tal­ent on all sorts of roads and you don’t need three world cham­pi­onships un­der your belt to make use of it. This is a car that fi­nally makes a strong case for it­self.

Who would buy one?

Hot hatch­backs come in two tiers these days: the rel­a­tively sen­si­ble 200bhp-or-so end and the lo­bot­omy-spec 300bhp-plus brigade. The DS 3 Per­for­mance, as part of the for­mer group, makes sense as a daily driver for some­one look­ing for ex­cite­ment with­out want­ing to sac­ri­fice their wal­lets to oil and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. Younger buy­ers will in­evitably go for the looks and the power.

This car summed up in a sin­gle word: Chunky.

If this car was a boxer it would be a hard-punch­ing light­weight with a bright fu­ture ahead of him.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

DS 3 Per­for­mance, from £20,495 En­gine: 1.6-litre tur­bocharged petrol pro­duc­ing 205bhp and 221lb/ft Trans­mis­sion: Six-speed man­ual front-wheel drive Per­for­mance: Top speed 143mph, 0-62mph in 6.5 sec­onds Fuel Econ­omy: 52.3mpg Emis­sions: 125g/km

The DS 3 Per­for­mance is a marked im­prove­ment over ear­lier mod­els

The cabin has lots of handy fea­tures, such as am­ple stor­age spa­ces

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