The DS3 rides, handles and steers nicely
It's not as much fun as the petrol, but it's a good value choice
Few cars are as striking on the road
The DS3 is more comfortable and practical than the Mini
Lots of options for the DS3's glitzy cabin
Engine produces 108bhp and 199lb ft
First DriveThe new soft-top Citroën DS3 delivers a surprisingly charming and enjoyable alternative to the likes of the Mini convertible
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What is it?
Have you seen a Citroen DS3 on the road yet? Chances are that if you have you looked twice. We like for more than the way it looks, though. Everything else is pretty much spot on too, especially the way it drives. That’s something we haven’t been able to say about a small Citroen for years.
So far, though, our experience has been restricted to the petrol models. This is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel, which is set to swallow up a good chunk of DS sales and also has formidable competition in the shape of the Mini Cooper D.
There are actually two diesels to choose from, both 1.6s and both familiar from other models: an 88bhp version and this 108bhp one, which, as well as getting more poke, also has a six-speed ’box.
What’s it like?
Citroen's 1.6 diesel isn't the quietest on the market but it's competitive and it gives the DS3 the same relaxed urgency as the petrol turbo. It's pretty punchy all the way through the rev range too, even if there's the inevitable tail-off when you really extend it.
Still, with current fuel prices, it's tough to argue with the fact that even pushing it hard still means that 50mpg is possible. Not to mention the low company car and road taxes.
Although it's not quite as much fun to drive as the petrol models, the HDi is still darty, direct and responsive, while being a good deal more comfortable and practical than a Mini.
The rest is pure DS3. Which means a terrific-looking and stylish cabin, and more comfort and space than you get in a Mini, even if some of the plastics and switchgear don’t feel quite as solid as they do in the baby BMW.
Should I buy one?
No question that this isn’t quite as much fun as as the petrol turbo DS3. So if you go diesel you won't be buying the best DS3. But you won't be making a mistake, either.