Matches the Mini for style, but not Renaultsport for dynamics

Our Verdict

Citroën DS3 Racing 2011-2011

Citroen's hot hatchback is appealingly intense, and good fun, but its high price and firm ride let it down

Steve Cropley Autocar
28 June 2010

What is it?

Citroen simply isn’t content to continue allowing Mini and Renault the easy access they currently have to the 200 horsepower baby hatch market, so they have superheated their already-sporty DS3 to give the pair some new competition.

The advent of a high performance Citroen DS3 has been guaranteed for some months, ever since a lowered, fat-tyred DS3 Racing version was shown as a concept at the Geneva Show last March and met with strong, almost universal approval. DS3 sales are already doing three times better than Citroen hoped for its first year. The company wants to make hay while it can.

All of which is why the Racing will be in European showrooms by the autumn and in Britain around the turn of the year. Citroen is rushing the car through low volume type approval in two batches of 1000 cars (aiming at 2000 sales per year) as a method of hitting the market quickly. They think it’s urgent, now that the world knows this will be the basis of next year’s WRC car.

The modifications to a “normal” DS3 are predictable but very effective. It gets PSA’s own 197 bhp, 1.6-litre turbo engine, plus bigger front brakes and four-pot calipers. The spring/damper rates are all stiffer, the car rides 15mm lower and both front and rear tracks are widened 30mm. The wheel arches have four businesslike, bolted-on carbon fibre arch extensions to cover their extras width.

What's it like?

On the road, the extra 20 percent of power is instantly detectable, though the engine is just as smooth, flexible and and docile as the more common 156bhp unit. There’s a slightly feistier exhaust note.

The suspension is stiffer, too, but not excessively so. The whole thing feels extremely stable; even more 'planted’ than the standard car, which is as well because there’s quite a lot of wheel fight now, when you’re full on the noise out of corners.

The steering of our early prototype was heavier than the standard car’s relatively light set-up, and (on a Renaultsport scale) we felt it could do with a little more sensitivity around the straight ahead. The car understeered a maybe little too much for some tastes, too, though this had the virtue of helping the car respond to throttle-steering more decisively than most.

Most of the quibbles will disappear as the car goes into production. The price – some French sources were suggesting £20,000-plus – may be a sticking point, but the car itself seems quite good enough to threaten either a Clio Cup of the Mini JCW for driving enjoyment and speed across the ground.

Should I buy one?

Not without reading an Autocar comparison of the car with its rivals (we’ll do that the instant proper production cars become available) and probably not without driving everything else you see as a DS3R rival.

We have a feeling the Citroen may not be the neatest-handling of cars, especially compared with its Renaultsport rival, but its décor and its exuberance will make it much more attractive, to some. Take time to discover, as a 200 horsepower baby hatch buyer, exactly where your priorities lie.

Join the debate

Comments
19

30 June 2010

talking of rally cars, the subaru impreza WRX is £18,995. But obviously the DS3 has more style/looks. But the WRX is 4wd....

30 June 2010

I will take a 10 Reg Clio RS Cup from autotrader with 10 miles on the clock for £14495 and enjoy the amazing drive and £6k+ that remains in my bank account and forgive it a slightly sub standard interior over this me thinks.

The Renault not only drives well it just looks so right too - none of the tinsel, all of the talent.

30 June 2010

Nissan Juke 4wd with 200bhp coming just in time for the DS3racing perhaps.

30 June 2010

Strange, I actually like the look of this, garish orange paint and Halfordsesque accessories and all! Most of us would spend our money elsewhere, but it may make you smile when you see once (especially as most will be wrapped around a lamp-post by a 23 year old who found too much money)

30 June 2010

Dismal looking car.

Citroen....creatively bankrupt.

30 June 2010

As long as the silly stickers and orange aren't forced on buyers, I think this could be a hit. At least its good to see Citroen finally using their wrc success on a decent hot hatch rather than the dismal loeb editions of the C2 and C4.

30 June 2010

Certainly shows the MINI what real flair is doesn't it?

Peter Cavellini.

30 June 2010

I used to have a theory that putting bigger wheels on even the ugliest car imaginable could begin to make it look acceptable. Clearly an utterly useless theory. What a complete sh*tter.

30 June 2010

[quote theonlydt]Strange, I actually like the look of this, garish orange paint and Halfordsesque accessories and all! Most of us would spend our money elsewhere, but it may make you smile when you see once (especially as most will be wrapped around a lamp-post by a 23 year old who found too much money)[/quote]

I think it looks absolutely amazing, I love orange details and it would be a rare sight on the roads...

I doubt you'd see it wrapped around a lamp-post, a 200 BHP FWD car isn't that difficult to control! A 300 BHP RWD car, well that I can certainly attest to wrapping around an object...!

30 June 2010

Interesting!

An attractive car!

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