Citroën DS3 hatchback (2009-2016)
"The DS 3 stands out in the upmarket supermini market thanks to its practicality, style, fun-to-drive character and well built interior"
- Stylish inside and out
- Quite cheap to run
- Good to drive
- Quite expensive to buy
- MINI is more fun to drive
- Only available as three-door
The DS 3 has been a huge success for parent company Citroen since it was first launched in 2010. The upmarket appeal of the original Citroen DS 3 encouraged Citroen to subsequently launch DS as an entirely separate, luxury brand. The DS 3 has since been joined by the DS 3 Crossback and the DS 7 Crossback, the latter of which is the first French luxury SUV.
The DS name has heritage; the original Citroen DS was a beautiful and technically advanced car launched in the 1950s, and the brand is designed to capture some of that magic. DS is the PSA Group’s first brand to enter the luxury car market, a sector that it has explored before with models from its existing brands, including Citroen and Peugeot, but with little success due to their mainstream associations.
The DS 3 is a small hatchback positioned as an alternative to upmarket supermini rivals such as the MINI Hatchback, but its glamorous looks inevitably pitch it against other fashion-led models like the Fiat 500. It also competes with the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo for buyers’ attention – and wallets.
The DS 3, like the Citroen version before it, sells in big numbers, and a range of options makes it tempting for many buyers. Interior and exterior customisation appeal to those who want to make their DS 3 reflect their personality.
The DS 3 is more than a pretty face; it’s more practical than the Fiat 500, even if, just as with that car, it’s slightly hobbled by a three-door-only bodystyle. For those who really need more doors, DS launched the larger, five-door DS 3 Crossback crossover in 2018.
The DS 3 range has been slimmed down considerably for the 2019 model year but the models still offered represent good value, and you can have a well equipped DS 3 for less than £20,000. The entry-level Connected Chic model packs cruise control, air-conditioning and a touchscreen infotainment system, sat nav and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The range is topped by the DS 3 Performance Line, which while offering no increase in performance over the Connected Chic model does look the part with both exterior and interior upgrades. There are also two special-edition models, called Cafe Racer and Forever, which add a few design and interior trim tweaks.
Just one engine is now offered in the DS 3 – the three-cylinder 1.2-litre 109bhp PureTech petrol – and it can only be had with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s claimed to return 44.8mpg, and has CO2 emissions of 114g/km, which places it in a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax bracket.
Although the DS brand shows signs of promise, few DS owners participated in our 2019 Driver Power satisfaction survey, so most models aren't featured, but the DS 3 finished 87th out of the top 100 ranked cars - which isn't a great showing.
Euro NCAP's 2017 retest of the DS 3 saw its former five-star crash safety rating reduced to three stars under the latest and most stringent criteria. Although this disappointing rating will count against the DS 3 for many, there's no doubt it still has a lot in its favour. It's undeniably stylish and well equipped, while frequent finance incentives put it within reach of those who might never have considered this kind of car.