DS 3 Per­for­mance

It doesn’t quite gel on the road, so how would the DS 3 fare on track?

Evo - - FAST FLEET - Louis Shaw

‘Given it wasn’t de­signed with track­days in mind, it gave a pretty good ac­count of it­self’

OUR LAST TRACK EVENING OF THE year and the first op­por­tu­nity to take our DS3 Per­for­mance onto a cir­cuit. I’ll ad­mit I was ex­cited at the prospect, and an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally balmy au­tumn evening and a chal­leng­ing track con­fig­u­ra­tion at Rock­ing­ham pro­vided the per­fect back­drop for what promised to be the DS 3’s most ex­act­ing test to date.

It’s no se­cret that up to this point the car hasn’t proven the most con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing. As I’ve men­tioned be­fore, the in­gre­di­ents are all there but the fi­nal pack­age ul­ti­mately dis­ap­points... on the road, that is. Then again, there ain’t no traf­fic lights or cross­ings on a track­day. So on that note it was tow­ing eye in, hel­met on and cir­cuit here we come!

The is­sues I have had with the car’s fid­dly con­trols and poor er­gonomics im­me­di­ately faded with noth­ing else to fo­cus on but the rac­ing line and the GT3S and 4s fill­ing my rear-view mir­ror. A lit­tle heat in the Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sports went a long way to restor­ing my faith and con­fi­dence and, a few laps of fa­mil­iari­sa­tion later, I was ready to push on and see what the car could re­ally do. I found an in­stant con­nec­tion with those bril­liantly placed ped­als, heel­ing and toe­ing my way into the first tight left-han­der. Turn-in has al­ways been one of the DS 3’s strong suits and it didn’t dis­ap­point here, more than hold­ing its own with a Golf R, GT86 and M235i.

For me, the DS 3 has just the right level of per­for­mance for track driv­ing. Un­less you’re mas­sively ex­pe­ri­enced, you gen­er­ally want some­thing that you can evolve with, with­out feel­ing as though you’re con­stantly on the edge of con­trol. In the right hands, as col­league Will Beau­mont showed, the DS 3 could keep up with the best of them and prove its worth as a nim­ble and – cru­cially – fun track­day car. And while we’re singing some praises, the brakes were a rev­e­la­tion, seem­ingly un­fazed by lap after lap of pun­ish­ment.

But the DS still frus­trated in parts. Yes, it was fun, but then any­thing with a bit of poke and a qual­ity diff would have been. Just as on the road, I couldn’t help think­ing that it was the bite of those Su­per Sport tyres com­bined with the lim­ited-slip diff that was al­most en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for it feel­ing as good as it did. It just doesn’t give you the level of

in­ter­ac­tion, bal­ance and pre­ci­sion you would get from, say, a Clio 200 Cup. The over­sized steer­ing wheel frus­trated in the same way it does on the road. And the feel­ing of be­ing

on the car, rather than in it, was still there, al­though those PSA rac­ing seats keep you firmly in place for tight di­rec­tion changes.

Over­all I was im­pressed with the abil­ity of the DS 3 on track – but that’s largely be­cause it’s pretty clear it wasn’t con­ceived and de­signed with track­days in mind at all. Given that, it gave a pretty good ac­count of it­self.

Ul­ti­mately, though, the DS 3 Per­for­mance lacks the sharp fo­cus of the very best hot hatches, and that’s as true on the track as it is on the road. So we find our­selves pon­der­ing the same fa­mil­iar ques­tions once again. For what pur­pose and – more to the point – what cus­tomer was this car re­ally de­signed?

Above and be­low: track evening at Rock­ing­ham was a chance to see if the so-far-un­der­whelm­ing DS 3 Per­for­mance could re­deem it­self on a cir­cuit

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