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
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