The Citroen DS3 is due to hit showrooms next March - and Steve Cropley hitched a lift with its designer Mark Lloyd to find out what it's like.
On seeing the DS3 at Paris's Gare du Nord, Cropley notes that the car looks more squat and purposeful than he expected.
Out on the road, Lloyd enters into the spirit of Paris driving, aided by the car's lowness and obvious grip on the French capital's slippery cobblestones, and by the shove of the 1.6-litre PSA-BMW turbo engine.
What else impressed Cropley?
"I liked the low-set, Mini-like seats and the smart body-coloured dash, which draws on the new C3's components but manages to differentiate itself with colours and textures.
"Most of all, I was impressed by the car's solidity and build integrity, given that it was still a pre-production model. This DS3 was a solid little thing that seemed immune to the buzzing trim of its ancestors."
Lloyd adds, "The DS3 is a car that expresses our heritage, from its nationality and the way it uses a revered name, to its bold styling, for which Citroen has been known most of its life. To me, heritage builds character. We're going to use it more and more."
The full story is in Autocar magazine, on sale today (Wednesday, 9 December).