Citroën’s aspiring premium brand DS faces its toughest test yet in its bid to establish itself as a standalone marque when it launches the new DS 3 supermini this spring.
The DS 3 has been crucial to the brand to date, accounting for 48% of DS’s 118,500 global sales in 2014. Its success is attributed to its styling and appealing dynamics, which gave DS a surprise Mini rival.
DS boss Yves Bonnefont has set his team the task of building cars that are avant-garde in design, have cutting-edge technology and which offer refinement and dynamism. While the new DS 3, which is set to be revealed at Geneva, is said to embody these qualities, it will not have the advantage of an all-new platform, as parent company PSA develops its new small car underpinnings for 2018.
The strategy for the new DS 3 is thought to be an ambitious redesign. The exterior is said to have evolved, taking styling cues from the DS Divine 2020 concept. It is expected to keep the distinctive C-pillars and proportions of today’s car but will get fresh light treatments and sharper, more squaredoff lines. The grille will evolve closer to that of the DS 4.
Inside, the car is said to have moved up in terms of quality. Higher trim levels with more standard kit are expected in a bid to establish a high-tech reputation, including PSA’s touchscreen infotainment system and MirrorLink. The powertrains will be derived from today’s units, which insiders believe match the class best for performance, refinement and real-world fuel economy.
The DS 3 will be offered as a flagship 207bhp 1.6-litre DS Performance model, as well as a DS Performance Black edition. There will be also be 81, 108 and 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol engines and a 163bhp 1.6. Diesels will be the familiar 1.6 BlueHDi engine with a choice of 99 and 118bhp outputs.
Engineers and designers are said to have been pushed to deliver a more rounded package for the second-gen car, recognising that its appeal must evolve if it is to drive sales. Bosses are also said to want to end the heavy discounts at which the DS 3 has been sold until now, even at the expense of sales volume, in order to shore up profits. DS 3 sales peaked at almost 80,000 in 2011 but have held steady at 70,000 a year since.
An SUV version is due in around 2019, although it is expected to have a more exaggerated design as it looks to take on the Nissan Juke.