The first model to wear the new label was the Citroën DS3 of 2010. This three-door supermini offered a variety of petrol and diesel engines and a range of trims. Personalisation was a major part of its appeal (owners could specify different external and interior colour combinations), with the Mini 3dr its primary target.
On that point, the DSport version we’re interested in here uses the same 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, developed by the PSA Group and BMW, as the Mini Cooper. In the DSport, it made 154bhp compared with 121bhp in the Cooper.
The Cooper was the car everyone wanted, but the DSport (despite its priciness, at £17,500) quickly found friends among those who appreciated its roomier, well-appointed cabin, bigger boot, accurate steering, tidy and engaging handling, slick and precise manual gearbox and punchy engine (0-62mph took 7.3sec).
It looked good, too. Personalisation generated some outrageous colour combinations (for example, yellow and black, and baby-blue and white, each repeated inside on the fascia and seats), but the more conservative-minded will be pleased to know that sober black-and-white versions are plentiful. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bargain, the louder liveries do seem to depress prices.
The DSport got 17in alloys, electric windows and mirrors, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth. In 2011, the DSport Plus arrived with more kit, including leather trim.
In 2014, the 1.6-litre engine was raised to 163bhp, but this yielded no discernible performance boost. Two years later, in 2016, DS became a standalone brand, so the model became the DS 3 DSport. By the end of the year, it had been dropped.
The DSport is really only warm, rather than hot, so those after greater thrills should seek out the 204bhp DS3 Racing, which was launched in 2011 and aimed squarely at the Mini JCW. Fettled by Citroën Racing, it did 0-62mph in 6.5sec. To keep it all in shape, it sat 15mm lower and had a 30mm-wider track than the DSport.
Used ones are few and far between, but we did track down a 2012 car with 52,000 miles, finished in head-turning orange and black, for £7490.
Is the Racing a future classic? Possibly, given its comprehensive performance makeover and the fact that there are so few around (150 at the last count). But before you take the plunge, it’s worth knowing that if you damage one, replacements for the carbonfibre splitter and other aerodynamic addenda are pricey and darned near impossible to source.
With the creation of the DS brand, the Racing became the Performance, now with 207bhp. We found a 2016 one with 56,000 miles for £10,990.