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DS 3 Performance Line review: sportier DS 3 tested

£19,250 when new
Published: 16 Feb 2017


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Which DS 3 is this?

It’s the new DS 3 Performance Line. What we have here is the DS equivalent of Audi’s S-Line and BMW’s M Sport, an aesthetic package that makes smaller engined models look like more performance-minded variants.

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So you have styling flourishes that echo the DS 3 Performance, smothering a hatchback powered by your choice of efficient 1.2-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines. Power outputs range from 98bhp to 128bhp.

So they’re not quick, then…

They’re not going to trouble any hot hatches, but the DS 3 is a small car, don’t forget. It doesn’t necessarily need oodles of power. We’ve driven the most potent – the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 128bhp and 170lb ft of torque. Its 8.9sec 0-62mph time and 127mph top speed ought to be plenty for most small car buyers.

Not much happens below 2,000rpm, but keep the engine above that, and you’ll make plentifully brisk progress. It’s a pleasant engine to work, too; like nearly every turbocharged triple on the market, it sounds interesting, and this one settles down quite nicely when you’re just cruising.

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If speed isn’t your thing, it’s the DS 3’s best engine, and it ought to return an easy 50mpg too. There’s also a 108bhp version that’s barely any slower, and has the option of an automatic gearbox. Stay manual if you can, though.

Is it any sportier to drive than normal?

Nope. But that’s no bad thing. The DS 3 has always been one of the better small hatchbacks to drive, and even after seven years on sale, it’s near top of the class if you want something that steers sharply and encourages you to actually explore its performance. A Mini remains more fun, but the DS 3 chases it hard.

It’s firm, though. Those 17in alloy wheels look smart but their skinny sidewalls no doubt play a part in thumpy ride quality over bumpy urban roads. It’s no worse than a Mini – another car guilty of putting bling appearance over bump absorption – but this is certainly a car that’s comfier and more compliant out of town.

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What’s different about the looks?

Not a huge amount, and I don’t reckon its exterior design fully lives up to the simply fantastic looking DS 3 Performance. There are plenty of similar elements – gloss black detailing, plush sports seats, stripy Performance Line badging – but the superb stance is missing.

The full-fat DS 3 hot hatch is slammed down on its wheels, which properly fill the arches thanks to broader track widths. This Performance Line is just a DS 3 with more trinkets. Albeit appealing ones, with sat nav as standard and those sports seats reasonably hugging.

Starting above £18,000, the Performance Line also doesn’t come cheap. Given how personalisable a DS 3 is – and how much that forms its appeal brand new – you might have more fun starting lower in the range and speccing the colours and wheels to your own tastes.

Either way, though, this is a nice reminder that the DS 3 is one of the more character-packed small cars on sale. Before its DS Automobiles makeover, it was one of the best Citroens you can buy. Now that the chevrons have been chiselled off, in favour of more upmarket badging, it’s by far the best DS you can buy. It’ll be a tough car to replace.

Images (silver car): Rupert Frere

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