DS 3

The artist and fashionista supermini formerly known as the Citroën DS3 made a splash when it was launched in 2010, but ekeing out its success story over a full model cycle is proving a challenge for the newly founded DS Automobiles.

Worldwide, the DS 3 has now reached almost 400,000 owners, and nowhere is it more popular than in the UK. But its popularity is slowly declining.

Bold-looking new three-dimensional ‘DS wing’ replaces Citroën’s double chevrons on the front

By 2015, fewer than 50,000 units were being delivered inside the EU – in a year when Mini almost tripled that tally with three-door and five-door hatchbacks.

Attempts to keep orders flooding in have included the introduction of the 3 Cabriolet in 2013 and the update of most of the car’s engine range, its styling and its equipment over several gradual steps since.

But now comes a bigger overhaul.

New styling, new engines, new infotainment features and a new hot hatch derivative are the ingredients being used here to spice up the 3’s recipe. And we’re taking an interest, because the 3 is car we rated highly at its launch for its frothy performance and rounded, engaging handling.

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The headline additions to the range are the new 128bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech version and the new 207bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre 3 Performance variant that’s out to give Mini John Cooper Works buyers a little pause for thought.

The version we’re testing is, in its own way, as rare a bird as the 207bhp tyre-shredder: a 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel supermini that promises to mix sub-10.0sec 0-60mph sprinting with 70mpg-topping fuel economy for less than £20,000.

Peppy diesels remain uncommon among small hatchbacks, it’s falling to the premium brands – such as DS, Mini, Audi and Alfa Romeo – and their more generous profit margins to supply them. So is this a good one and should we grab it where we can?

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