The car’s nose is certainly bolder than before, but whether or not it’s better is your call. Inside, meanwhile, there's a new and responsive central 7.0in touchscreen, and the resultant de-cluttering of the centre console (it has 20 fewer buttons on it) make it look much cleaner. There have also been improvements to materials, but most are hidden away.
There’s plenty of style in the cabin, but only the dash top is made of soft-touch plastic, and there are quite a few moulding seams on show. Other bugbears remain with the control stalks being hidden away behind the steering wheel and the shortage of cup holders, but the driving position and control ergonomics are otherwise sound.
A six-footer sitting behind another will find kneeroom and headroom compromised, but space is reasonable for the class; there’s room for a very small fifth occupant, and the boot holds a decent 285 litres, extending to 980 with the 60/40-split rear seats folded.
While the new engine matches the Mini Cooper’s 134bhp 1.5 turbo three-poty for emissions (105g/km) and combined economy (62.8mpg), the Puretech 130’s official figures have it a second slower to 62mph, at 8.9sec.
But the DS 3 feels a fair bit quicker than that, pulling heartily between 2000rpm and 5000rpm. There’s a bit of lag, but it’s not disruptive, and the engine sings a pleasant, restrained tune when pushed yet hushes up when cruising. It’s far from the slightly wearing neuroticism of the Fiat 500’s TwinAir, for example.
The engine’s responsiveness means you may have to shift gears less often than expected, but there’s an obliging action when you do. Exploit this enjoyable drivetrain combination along a country road and you’ll carry good pace between corners. However, a combination of body roll, understeer and steering that hasn't enough feel undermine the fun a bit.
The trade-off is a ride that is pretty comfy despite occasional jitters, although suspension noise and tyre roar inhibit refinement, and the steering, while responsive, could settle down better than it does on the motorway.