Citroen DS3 (2015) first drive review

Citroen’s fashionable DS3 has had some botex. But is it starting to show its age?

Citroen DS3 (2015)The 2015 Citroen DS3 boasts a revised engine line-up and extra tech – the 165hp turbocharged petrol is a hoot.

Andrew Brady | December 2014

The success of the Citroen DS3 has taken even the carmaker by surprise – it’s now clocked up over 300,000 sales internationally since it hit the market in 2010, along with myriad awards under its belt.

As a result of Citroen’s small car victory, the French firm is separating its luxury DS brand from the mainstream manufacturer, so it’ll soon standalone and take the DS3 further upmarket – despite disappointing sales from other models with the DS badge.

But, four years on, even the DS3 is in danger of becoming old hat. Citroen has thus introduced a number of updates for 2015 including revised and more economical engines, extra kit and new LED headlights.

Citroen DS3 (2015)

What’s the 2015 Citroen DS3 like to drive?

We tried the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol THP engine, which now boasts 165hp. Fuel economy is increased to 50.4mpg while CO2 is down to 129g/km.

This is the result of stop-start technology fitted as standard to this model for the first time, along with increased fuel pressure, a revised turbo and reduced friction within the engine.

It’s a lively unit, providing plenty of pull from low down, with lots of character and a pleasing burble as the revs increase. 62mph is reached in 7.5 seconds, putting the DS3 firmly into warm hatch territory.

It handles well, too. Around town the steering is light and the DS3 is easy to thread in and out of traffic, while on open roads it’s an entertaining steer. It grips pleasingly well, only starting to grapple with understeer when pushed into corners at extremely optimistic speeds.

Our biggest gripe is visibility, in the Cabriolet model especially. The small, upright rear screen means you end up relying on your door mirrors for a view of what’s going on behind you, while the resulting tiny boot opening means you won’t be transporting bulky items.

Surprisingly though, for a cabriolet, wind noise is kept at bay, even at motorway speeds with the roof retracted, thanks to a pop-up wind deflector.

Citroen DS3 (2015)

Is the 2015 Citroen DS3 Cabriolet good value for money?

In terms of image alone, the Citroen DS3 offers excellent value for money. With prices starting at £12,865, there’s little this side of a MINI that’ll match it (bar the Fiat 500).

The DS3’s interior matches its stylish and chic exterior. It feels high quality, but if you go tapping plastics you will find some areas where costs have been cut. The Cabriolet’s cabin feels slightly claustrophobic with the roof up, and passengers in the rear might feel shortchanged if they’re anywhere near six foot, but there’s still enough room to seat four on reasonable journeys.

We tried out Citroen’s Active City Brake system, which applies the brakes at speeds up to 18mph if it detects that you’re about to crash into a stationary vehicle. There’s little danger of it accidentally being triggered, it kicks in right at the last minute.

Citroen’s also introducing new LED xenon headlights on the revised DS3. The manufacturer claims they’re up to 75% more efficient than standard lights. They look good too, keeping the DS3’s chic French design up to date.

Citroen DS3 (2015)

Verdict: 2015 Citroen DS3

The revised Citroen DS3 remains a sound choice for the fashion-conscious supermini buyer. The THP petrol engine we tried is an enthusiastic unit, offering sprightly performance combined with impressive green credentials.

The DS3 isn’t perfect – the Cabriolet especially has its faults (a tiny boot entrance and poor rear visibility spring to mind), but it makes up for it with its trendy image and enjoyable driving experience.

Rivals: 2015 Citroen DS3

  1. Audi A1
  2. Fiat 500
  3. Ford Fiesta
  4. MINI hatch
  5. Peugeot 208

The Audi A1 is smaller than the DS3, but has that Audi badge that is also likely to appeal to buyers of the Citroen. The Fiat 500 is also smaller, but will appeal to those who want ‘cute’ on a budget. The Ford Fiesta is a little more mainstream, but can’t be ignored for the way it drives, while the MINI is more expensive but the ultimate trendy hatchback. That leaves the Peugeot 208, a sensible alternative from Citroen’s sister company.

Specification: 2015 Citroen DS3

Engine: 1.2-litre, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, 1.6-litre turbodiesel

Gearbox: Four-speed auto, five-speed manual, six-speed manual

Price from: £12,865

Power: 82 – 165hp

Torque: 87 – 210lb ft

0-62mph: 7.5 – 14.2 seconds

Top speed: 135mph

MPG: 42.2 – 78.5mpg

CO2: 94 – 150g/km

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Andrew Brady
Web editor at MR. Drives a 2005 Toyota MR2. Has a penchant for the peculiar.


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