Citroën DS3 hatchback

£12,865 - £23,220

The Citroen DS3 was the French brand's first offering in its upmarket ‘DS’ range. DS cars are intended to be more stylish, luxurious and better-to-drive alternatives to Citroen's standard cars and with the DS3, Citroen has made a hatchback much more capable of competing with cars like the Alfa Romeo Mito, MINI and Audi A1 than its everyday C3 model.

As we’ve come to expect in this class, there's plenty of scope to personalise the DS3 with options or by buying special editions. The DS3 has been a strong seller since it was launched in 2010 thanks to its striking design, high-quality cabin and engaging driving dynamics.

As well as competing on the fashion front, the DS3 is also pleasingly efficient, with the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel-engined model emitting only 94g/km of CO2 and managing 78.5mpg. Even the PureTech 82 petrol manages 62mpg, although the cutting-edge three-cylinder turbocharged engines in some rivals help them match this figure.

The DS3 is available in five specifications: entry-level DSign, mid-range DStyle, higher-spec Dsire and DSport and the range-topping Ultra Prestige. There are also various special editions that add unique trim and styling upgrades, as well as Plus packs that add certain accessories to each trim level.

Even entry-level models are well equipped, with a leather steering wheel, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, plus air-conditioning. DStyle and DSport spec cars come in Plus versions, which include upgrades such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, bigger alloy wheels, digital climate control, parking sensors and automatic headlamps and wipers.

Other models in the DS3 range include the DS3 Racing hot hatch, as well as a DS3 Cabriolet, which has a folding canvas roof, much like the smaller Fiat 500C city car.

The Citroen DS3 is a fun car – both to look at and to drive. Its unusual design may not be to everyone's taste, but it certainly stands out in the premium supermini class, even now. An economical and punchy engine range helps keep it on the radar of many buyers and only improved build quality and practicality could seriously enhance the overall package.

If you can afford it, we’d recommend stretching to the well-equipped DSire trim level, as it allows you to choose the BlueHDi 120 diesel engine that combines plenty of power with very impressive economy figures. You also get the six-speed manual gearbox with this engine, which is better than the five-speed that comes with the entry-level models.