This is the Citroen DS3 supermini, the first car in a DS range that has been launched at the Frankfurt motor show.
The French firm hopes that this rival for the Mini and Fiat 500 will give the Citroen brand an image boost. It has announced that 100 cars will be made available for pre-ordering in the UK online from today, with deliveries set to begin next spring.
The new car is based on the next C3, itself not due until next year, and the production car has stayed remarkably close to the concept that was the star of this year’s Geneva show.
Mark lloyd, chief designer, said: "The interior of the DS3 was created for this car, and then we decided to put it in the C3. We chose different colours and trims for the C3.
"The B pillar is the most emphatic feature of the styling, maybe it will be copied - that’s a real sense of flattery."
The only obvious external differences are the tailpipes — a twin outlet replaces the concept’s large single exhaust — and a conventional aerial instead of the concept’s BMW-style fin. Even the wheels are the same.
The complex bodywork features a fully glazed rear, with conventional C-pillars replaced by the rear window. At 3.95m long and 1.71 m wide, it’s very similar in size to the ford Fiesta, although Citroen claims it has worked hard to reduce the weight of the car.
Buyers will be able to customise the exterior and interior of their cars. There are four colour schemes for the roof — black, white, blue and red — and graphics are also available. Door mirrors can be specified in body colour or chrome, and the coloured wheel centres are available in what Citroën describes as “an infinite variety of colours”.
Inside, the dashboard insert is available in six different finishes, with five different gear lever trims to choose from. And the key features a small disc painted in the same colour as the car’s body.
Engine choices consist of two diesels and three petrol motors. The diesels are 1.6-litre HDi units with either 90bhp or 110bhp; the lower-powered unit emits just 99g/km of CO2. The four-pot petrol engines have outputs of 150bhp, 120bhp and 95bhp. All engines come with five or six-speed manual gearboxes.
Underneath the DS3 is the new C3 chassis, which uses MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear. Citroen claims the suspension has been reworked to increase refinement, but it will be tuned to be sportier than the C3.
Citroen is making much of the DS3’s interior space. The car has a 285-litre boot, comparable to that of the Fiesta. But that’s more load space than in the Fiat 500 and Mini, and Citroën is also promising that the DS3 will offer “five real seats”.
The DS3 will be joined by two other DS models: the DS4 in 2011 and, a year later, the DS5, a big estate/MPV inspired by the C-Sportlounge concept from 2005. The cars could add as much as 40 per cent to the sales of the mainstream models on which they’re based.
The DS3 goes on sale next March, and it should be priced to undercut the Mini.