The enchanting scene
Some people argue that there are too many cars and too many car makers in the world. Some people could be right. I’ve often pondered which ones we could do without and quickly realised that sheer sales volumes should not be a factor in this decision – or we wouldn’t have cars like the Citroën DS3.
Cars like the DS3 brighten up any city scene, they inject a bit of colour and spice into a sea of monotonous white and silver rental lookalikes. I hope Citroën forgives me when I suggest they bin the regular C3 and C4, possibly their people movers too and just build the enchanting DS models.
That’s right – enchanting. These cars have zany looks, materials, colours, ergonomics and marketing material that you won’t find in many other showrooms. The DS3 even allows you to order the roof, seats, gear lever, dashboard, exterior mirrors and key in a different colour to the car.
How cool is that?
It’s possible to piece together a red car with chrome mirrors, a black roof, white seats, blue dashboard, yellow gear lever and grey key but you’d best check with your dealer to see if that combo is allowed. Even if it’s not, I like the idea of the key and gear lever matching the car’s paint.
All that would top a very unique design. The front isn’t too crazy but the DS3’s profile with that midway metal kink looks amazing – especially in a bright colour. The design completes in a clean rear with beautifully styled and recessed rear light clusters which even have a faint DS logo floating near their edges.
Driving the little French number requires no special effort but it still felt exciting and refreshing after a week. The beautiful instruments and contrasting materials did a good job of lifting the cabin ambience and reminding me that this wasn’t a humdrum hatch.
The infotainment unit borrowed from other Citroën products could do with rejuvenation but, together with the instruments’ LCD display, provided sufficient information and entertainment. The ventilation controls are beautifully simple and the hard seats provide good support in corners.
Rear space is slightly less thanks to the DS3’s sloping windows, the deep boot (285L) can also be extended to 980L by folding the rear backrests. Standard equipment includes ABS, ESP, many airbags, cruise control, mp3/Aux input, remote central locking, ISOFIX and lots of powered goodies.
The DS3 VTi 82 Design Manual is propelled by a 1.2L three-cylinder petrol engine which stems 60kW (82hp) or 118Nm against a weight of 975kg. That means 0-100km/h in 12.3 seconds and a top speed of 174km/h, as well as averages of 4.5L/100km and 104g CO2/km.
We clocked 0-100km/h in 13 seconds but crucially couldn’t get the little Citroën off the line properly – there just isn’t enough power and the clutch can be tricky. The little engine has decent shove at low to mid revs but completely runs out of ideas near its upper limits.
It does sound good though.
That means the DS3 82 is no racer, although its choppy sports suspension and commendable road holding allows some impressive cornering. The car has very lively handling but lacks the performance to really get naughty, which means that it’s a nimble little town car with hard suspension.
Citroën offers four more powerful models and all have a 3-year/100,000km warranty with 4-year/60,000km service plan. This VTi 82 Design starts the range at N$199,900 which is a little pricey but quite competitive considering its features and wonderfully customisable looks.
0-100m: 7.3s / 72.4km/h
0-200m: 11.5s / 93.5km/h
0-300m: 15.0s / 107.6km/h
0-400m: 18.1 / 118.3km/h
1/4mile: 18.2s @ 73.6mph (118.5km/h)
Climate Sunny, mild
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3