FRENCH CLASS IN A HOT HATCH THAT RE­ALLY CATCHES THE EYE

The DS 3 Per­for­mance Black Cabrio is the king­pin of the DS model line-up. But is it any good? Si­mon Davis finds out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY SI­MON DAVIS

DS3 PER­FOR­MANCE BLACK CABRIO

WHAT’S NEW? Cur­rently sit­ting at the top of the DS Au­to­mo­bile line-up, the new DS 3 Per­for­mance Black is the French man­u­fac­turer’s at­tempt at a hot hatch.

It shares the same 1.6-litre tur­bocharged petrol en­gine and lim­ited slip-dif­fer­en­tial as the Peu­geot 208 GTI, yet is dressed up in a chintzier frock.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE With the matte black paint and gold wing mir­rors that fea­tured on our test car, the DS Per­for­mance Black is a fairly mean-look­ing thing.

Adding to its sport­ing cre­den­tials are mas­sively flared wheel arches, an ag­gres­sive-look­ing body kit, black 18-inch al­loy wheels and twin ex­haust pipes. Our car also fea­tured the op­tional DS Per­for­mance Ex­te­rior Graphic Kit for added visual im­pact.

Al­to­gether, these styling fea­tures make for a car that is cer­tainly im­pos­ing to look at.

To some, they might make the DS 3 Per­for­mance look rather tacky and over styled, but then again, isn’t that part of the fun of own­ing a hot hatch­back?

In the cabin, the Per­for­mance is much the same as the reg­u­lar DS 3, save for the mas­sive bucket seats.

While these cer­tainly look the part on a car that has been de­signed to be an en­gag­ing and ex­cit­ing driv­ing ma­chine, in re­al­ity they don’t quite pro­vide the right amount of sup­port.

This means you’re thrown around a wee bit when push­ing the car through the cor­ners.

DS has also thrown in some mock car­bon-fi­bre pan­elling on the steer­ing wheel and doors, while the dash was the same gold colour as our test car’s wing mir­rors.

Again, this might come across as bad taste to some, but it seemed to fit the char­ac­ter of the DS 3 Per­for­mance rather well.

The car’s ap­pear­ance cer­tainly at­tracts a fair deal of at­ten­tion from other mo­torists on the road.

If you’re af­ter a hot hatch that likes to shout about the fact it has a more power than its reg­u­lar sib­lings, you’ll likely find the DS 3 Per­for­mance a more ap­peal­ing prospect than some of its more un­der­stated ri­vals.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY So long as you choose to sit in the front two seats, you’ll find the hot DS 3 has more than enough space.

Un­for­tu­nately, the same can’t be said about the rear seats. Adults will find they have next-to-no leg room, and be­cause the can­vas roof bunches up right be­hind rear pas­sen­gers’ heads when it is re­tracted, head room can be com­pro­mised, too. As a re­sult, it’s prob­a­bly best that the back seats are left for chil­dren on longer drives.

Un­for­tu­nately, the car’s boot is also com­pro­mised by the fold­ing can­vas roof.

While it may boast 245 litres’ worth of space, the boot aper­ture is in­cred­i­bly small, which makes load­ing even things like a week­end bag into the back of the car a bit of a tricky process. Be­cause of this and the fact the DS 3 Per­for­mance Cabrio isn’t re­ally a true con­vert­ible in the tra­di­tional sense, it might be worth opt­ing for the hard­top in­stead.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL For a hot hatch that’s pack­ing a con­sid­er­able 207bhp un­der the hood, the DS 3 Per­for­mance Black doesn’t feel as fast as its num­bers might sug­gest.

Sure its quick, but the man­ner in which it picks up speed just isn’t ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing — es­pe­cially when you com­pare it to the rather sav­age na­ture of the Peu­geot 208 GTI by Peu­geot Sport, with which it shares its 1.6-litre THP en­gine. An­other stick­ing point is the fact the Peu­geot sounds fan­tas­tic, while the DS 3 just doesn’t.

Thanks to the ab­sence of a proper roof, the DS 3 Cabrio isn’t ter­ri­bly com­posed over bumpier sur­faces ei­ther.

It has a slight ten­dency to shud­der and groan over any piece of road that isn’t ab­so­lutely smooth, which are un­for­tu­nately few and far be­tween here in the UK.

The good news is that the DS 3 is pretty sweet through the cor­ners. There is an abun­dance of grip and the Torsen lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial works well to keep you on the road and helps to min­imise un­der­steer that can of­ten plague cars of this na­ture.

VALUE FOR MONEY With an ask­ing price of £25,295, the DS 3 Per­for­mance Black Cabrio isn’t ex­actly the cheap­est hot hatch you can get your hands on.

That said though, it does come with a healthy dose of stan­dard kit.

This in­cludes satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, a re­vers­ing cam­era, front park­ing sen­sors and an up­rated hi-fi sys­tem.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? The DS 3 Per­for­mance Black Cabrio is by no means the pick of the bunch from the cur­rent crop of hot hatch­backs.

Sure it looks great, and comes with a de­cent amount of kit as stan­dard, but isn’t as ex­cit­ing to drive or as com­pe­tent as its com­pe­ti­tion.

As the lit­tle DS is a rather niche choice any­way, per­haps this is a car that will ap­peal to some­one look­ing for a hot hatch that’s slightly left of field.

The in­te­rior of the DS 3 Per­for­mance Black comes with some good kit, like sat nav, front park­ing sen­sors and a re­vers­ing cam­era as stan­dard

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