It would be easy to dismiss the DS3 as a cynical attempt to harness a classic model’s reputation and ramp up the eventual sticker prices by offering a lengthy options list. But to do so would be to dismiss what is, on the whole, a compelling car and, in the shape of the DS3 1.6 THP 150 DSport, comfortably the most convincing performance car from Citroën in a generation.
The company’s cleverest move with the DS3 has been not to aim this model too high. It offers well balanced handling that has the capacity to entertain while offering no nasty surprises, although to get the best from it you have to pick the right engine and trim combination. In our view, that is the 1.6 THP 150 Sport - other models are less convincing as a performance hatch, but they’re more comfortable and easier to live with than either an Alfa Romeo Mito or a Mini..
The DS3 Racing is a more hardcore version that, thanks to a rock-hard ride, might be difficult to live with day in, day out. But you can’t argue with its performance or handling, especially on a track.
All DS3s can compete with any rival on style, while the wide number of personalisation options will appeal to many, as will strong resale values.
DS3s are also cheaper than Minis. Flaws remain – we’d like to see greater distance between its cabin and those of lesser Citroëns, for example – but the DS3 is a convincing and desirable rival for the ubiquitous Mini.