A light refresh has added fresh engine options, more media connectivity and greater scope for individuality, whether you choose hatch or Cabrio bodystyles. This car’s fundamental fashionability though, is what will really sustain sales. It still gets people talking.
Under the bonnet of mainstream hard-top and Cabrio models, there’s a wide choice of engines. For petrol people, there’s a choice of either a 1. 2-litre three cylinder PureTech unit or a 1. 6-litre THP powerplant. Go for the PureTech variants and the range starts with a normally aspirated 82bhp derivative, but it’s better to stretch to one of the turbo options, offering either 110 or 130bhp. The ‘PureTech 110’ variant is the only one in the range offering the option of automatic transmission – the PSA Group impressively efficient EAT6 gearbox. For more performance, you’ll need the turbo THP unit. This is offered with 165bhp – or with 208bhp if you choose the ‘Performance’ hot hatch variant now added in at the top of the range. This gets a wider track, lowered suspension, uprated brakes and a Torsen limited-slip differential.
As for diesel power, well there’s a choice of either 100 or 120bhp versions of the PSA Group’s usual 1. 6-litre BlueHDi engine. These are impressively clean and frugal: expect 83. 1mpg on the combined cycle and 87g/km of CO2 from the BlueHDi 100 variant, for example. Whatever engine you choose in your DS3, you should find the car good to drive: it certainly feels very different from the Citroen C3 supermini it’s based upon. And if you opt for the Cabrio bodystyle, there’s the added bonus of fresh air thrills whenever you want them, courtesy of a roof you can operate at speeds of up to 75mph.
To the uninitiated, the DS3 is still quite a sight. Yes, the basic shape is that of a traditional supermini, but it’s been developed with the kind of flair usually reserved for concept cars, distinctive curves marking extremities that see the wheels pushed right out to the corners, producing a squat, purposeful stance. The real drama, however, is in the detail. From that ‘shark fin’ B-pillar to the contrasting ‘floating’ roof panel and the distinct sill line connecting the wheelarches, the DS3 remains ferociously unconventional.
The move to full DS branding has brought with it the opportunity to re-style the front end, where the vertical grille now proudly incorporates the ‘DS Wings’ brand logo and extends smoothly into headlights that feature ‘LED Vision’ xenon technology on plusher variants like this one.
If you go for this Cabrio model, there are four different roof designs: standard Black finish, ‘Emerald’, ‘DS Monogram’ - which features the brand logo - and so-called ‘Infinite Blue’ with fabric that weaves in different coloured threads of blue and violet, each reacting differently to the light. Talking of the Cabrio version, well at first glance you’d be forgiven for not realising this to be a soft top variant at all. After all, the profile of this model is identical to that of its fixed-top counterpart, the fabric opening section limited to the very top of the car.
On to how this car is going to make you feel when you slip behind the wheel. Pretty smug and self-satisfied we think, if you’re moving into it from a conventional supermini. True, the design no longer feels as cutting edge as it once did, but the high quality cabin ambience that’s always marked out this DS3 remains, with its piano black trimming and cool white lighting.
The key change made as part of this model’s move into full DS branding was the addition of the smart 7-inch colour touchscreen. The touchscreen also enables the DS brand to offer a wide range of media connectivity ‘Connected Services’ in this car – not only an internet browser but also optional ‘Mirror Screen’ functionality that provides access to the ‘MirrorLink’ and ‘Apple CarPlay’ systems allowing you to duplicate the functionality of your smartphone onto this display.
You can see why the DS3 has struck such a chord with its users. Even today, the basic shape looks fresh and fashionable and it’s personalisable to an extent that isn’t possible with many rivals. Plus the subtle DS-branded re-style is just enough to keep the design feeling current.
In summary, if three doors are sufficient and your fashionable trendiness must keep some practical perspective, it’s hard to ignore.