Anyone expecting a night-and-day transformation from the C3 in the Citroën DS3’s cabin is likely to feel mild disappointment. True, the freer options list allows buyers to play with the colours of the fascia and gearknob and there are more seat fabrics to choose from than usual. But the view from the driver’s seat is still remarkably similar to the one you’ll find in the C3.
That’s not an unforgiveable sin, because the five-door’s dash is already one of the most appealing in the class. But it does make the move upmarket tougher. Sure enough, the budget clearly didn’t stretch to higher-grade plastics for the bottom of the fascia; the aux-in and 12V sockets are covered by cheap black plastic flaps and the glovebox feels flimsy. The Mini may have similar flaws, but it does a much better job of hiding them.
The DS3 Racing is markedly different inside from the standard car. Bold flashes of carbonfibre and body-coloured plastic undoubtedly make for a more appealing interior, but of course this is reflected in the price.
The driving position is slightly offset, but on the whole we had few problems settling into the front cabin. The seats do major on comfort rather than lateral support, though.
In the rear, the DS3’s extra size over a Mini translates into a useful advantage in knee and leg room. This can be helped further if the front passenger makes use of the space freed up by the deeply scalloped glovebox to push the seat forward.
But the overall level of rear accommodation is still compromised, this time by a low roofline. Anyone north of 6ft tall will find it cramped in the rear seats. At least boot space, at 285 litres, is well clear of a Mini’s.
The DS3 cabrio's cabin is little changed from that of the hatch. Because the majority of the car's roof structure remains intact, including the main arches, body rigidity doesn't suffer too much and it's refined with the roof in place. The canvas hood folds back to any of three positions quickly and quietly at the push of a button.