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In-depth reviews

DS 3 review - Engines, drive & performance

The DS 3 has a smooth ride and punchy engines

Carbuyer Rating

3.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.7 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

It might be a small SUV, but the biggest compliment you can pay the DS 3 is that it drives just like a family hatchback. This means it will make light work of most driving situations, from motorways to the urban commute.

When we drove it, we were disappointed to find the DS 3 was not the supple, comfortable car it was expected to be, and we found it lacked composure at low speeds. It takes speed bumps in an uncomfortable fashion, and can feel a little sharp as it recomposes itself following a bump. Once at higher speeds, it feels better, but occupants will unfortunately still feel some imperfections in the road surface as they drive along.

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The DS 3 is competent enough on a twisty road, but it’s not particularly exciting, particularly when compared to the class-topping Ford Puma. It offers average grip and the suspension helps mitigate body roll, but the steering is rather vague and can be surprisingly heavy. Refinement is good, however, with the DS 3 keeping out most of the wind and road noise even at motorway speeds.

DS 3 petrol engines

Most DS 3 owners will choose the petrol engine variant, and even with the choice of an EV, it suits the car well and is our pick of the range. The choice is further complicated by three power levels, however. The entry-level 99bhp PureTech, with a six-speed manual gearbox, is great around town and still has enough power for the occasional dash along faster roads. Then there’s the 128bhp model that’s equipped with an eight-speed automatic gearbox for those demanding more performance.

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We've driven the PureTech 130 and found it changed gears smoothly, making it suitable for commuters who face daily stop-and-start traffic. The higher-spec eight speed automatic gearbox models also have paddle shifters for manual control, and the torque converter automatic responds quite willingly to gear changes. The engine itself is a pleasant thing, burbling audibly thanks to its three-cylinder layout. It settles down to a quiet hum once you reach cruising speed and feels plenty quick enough for daily use.

While we haven’t tried it yet, 2024 also saw the introduction of the aforementioned mild-hybrid, with a total of 134bhp from its petrol engine and small electric motor. This also gets a new six-speed automatic transmission, and it’s a bit quicker, getting from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.4 seconds. A new design of turbocharger and the assistance of the electric motor should make it feel noticeably more zippy around town.

Diesel engine

Just one diesel was available, although it was dropped from the lineup in 2023. With 108bhp it had a top speed of 120mph, and came fitted as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, offering ample power for all daily driving scenarios. Zero-to-62mph takes 9.7 seconds but most buyers will be better served by the petrols, so it’s hardly missed.

Electric motor

With 154bhp, the electric motor powering the DS 3 E-Tense offers plenty of pace. The electric model can get from 0-62mph in nine seconds, beating most diesel hatchbacks. It can reach a top speed of 93mph.

The electric motor and battery add almost 350kg to the weight of the DS 3, however, and you can really feel the extra bulk through corners and on bumpy tarmac.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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