Stylish hatch is more than a match for the Mini Cooper D

What is it?

Have you seen a Citroen DS3 on the road yet? Chances are that if you have you looked twice. We like for more than the way it looks, though. Everything else is pretty much spot on too, especially the way it drives. That’s something we haven’t been able to say about a small Citroen for years.

So far, though, our experience has been restricted to the petrol models. This is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel, which is set to swallow up a good chunk of DS sales and also has formidable competition in the shape of the Mini Cooper D.

There are actually two diesels to choose from, both 1.6s and both familiar from other models: an 88bhp version and this 108bhp one, which, as well as getting more poke, also has a six-speed ’box.

What’s it like?

Citroen's 1.6 diesel isn't the quietest on the market but it's competitive and it gives the DS3 the same relaxed urgency as the petrol turbo. It's pretty punchy all the way through the rev range too, even if there's the inevitable tail-off when you really extend it.

Still, with current fuel prices, it's tough to argue with the fact that even pushing it hard still means that 50mpg is possible. Not to mention the low company car and road taxes.

Although it's not quite as much fun to drive as the petrol models, the HDi is still darty, direct and responsive, while being a good deal more comfortable and practical than a Mini.

The rest is pure DS3. Which means a terrific-looking and stylish cabin, and more comfort and space than you get in a Mini, even if some of the plastics and switchgear don’t feel quite as solid as they do in the baby BMW.

Should I buy one?

No question that this isn’t quite as much fun as as the petrol turbo DS3. So if you go diesel you won't be buying the best DS3. But you won't be making a mistake, either.

Chas Hallett

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Flatus senex 20 June 2012

"Isn't the quietest on the market"

Just come across this thread. An elderly lady I know thinks my DS3 diesel is the quietest running car she encounters which is a bit at odds with your reviewer's comments. I suspect there can be significant differences between individual units which could have an undue effect on tester's opinions. Support for this comes from a friend who test drove a C4 Picasso whose engine, he thought, was noisier than that in my vehicle.

Further evidence comes from Skoda Octavia diesels, extensively used as taxis in my area. To my mind this is a coarser engine than the PSA 1.6 Hdi anyway but vehicles experienced by me have varied from the acceptable to crudely noisy and vibratory. Age of the vehicle concerned did not seem to be a factor.

It seems to indicate that modern manufacturing techniques have not eliminated quite considerable  variations between units.

armchair_expert 13 May 2010

Re: Citroën DS3 1.6 HDi DSport

I believe the mini currently has a stage 4 16v diesel generating 110 @ 4000rpm. DS3 is a new stage 5 8v and peak power is droped to 3600rpm. While they are both 1.6 diesels from Peugeot/Citreon group, the engines are quite different.

Chris576 9 May 2010

Re: Citroën DS3 1.6 HDi DSport

nicksheele wrote:
Whatever happened to the C5? Rare as hens' teeth. Great launch advert, sales bomb,

The c5's enormous and most of them don't even have proper Citroen suspension. The advert highlighted the problem. If I wanted a German car, I'd buy one. I'd like a decent Citroen. Citroen should be making them. The DS3 is a good start. A c5 estate based on the design language of the DS3, with pneumatic suspension, would be a great car.