Citroen DS3

The Essentials

  • Price from £12,600
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 78.5mpg
  • What is it? Watch out Mini: Citroen wants your customers and this stylish supermini might just tempt them.

Great

  • Personalise the styling for a car that's perfectly 'you'
  • Enjoyable to drive, with strong, smooth engines
  • Generous safety kit on all models

Gripes

  • The rear seats aren't the roomiest
  • Entry-level cars don't have air-con as standard
  • Doesn't feel as taut on the road as its best rivals
  • Drive

    It's no Mini, but strong smooth engines and neat handling make the DS3 as enjoyable to drive as it is to look at

  • Inside

    The driver sits well back from the windscreen, and it's easy to get comfortable whatever your altitude. Swish materials create a club-like atmosphere

  • Safety

    The DS3 scored well in Euro NCAP tests, and comes with stability control, traction control and six airbags as standard. Security is good, too

  • Reliability

    Not always Citroen's strongest suit, but we've got high hopes for the DS3

  • Space

    Great for those in front, but make sure your rear passengers are on good terms - it's cosy back there. No such worries for the luggage: the boot is a good size

  • Standard and extras

    All versions get cruise control, central locking and electric front windows, but you can add all sorts of goodies as you move up the range. Dsport models get lots of goodies and a sportier look, too

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Citroen DS3 may not have quite the same taut, direct feel as you experience when driving a Mini, but when you've personalised the car down to the baby blue door mirrors, roof panel and matching key fob and wheels, you may not mind. The strong engines all have plenty of get up and go, and our favourite, the 1.6 THP, is seriously punchy. It's a pity the ride isn't smoother and that going for the smart looks of the 17-inch wheels introduces too much road noise.

  • What's it like inside?

    It's a little like being in a swish nightclub: the shiny piano black dashboard with gleaming chrome touches continues the stylish look of the car's exterior. Happily it smells better than a nightclub thanks to the built-in air-freshener.
    Some of the quirky touches work - the dials look like precision instruments with tweezer-style pointers. Others don't - the offset pedals are annoying. Some of the buttons on the dash are a little small and fiddly, while others are hard to find tucked behind the steering wheel. There's a socket for your MP3 player, but nowhere handy close by to stash it.
    Rear legroom is rather tight and the low roofline at the back and sides makes it feel cosier than it really is, but the boot is a decent size and bigger than that in an Audi A1 or Mini Clubman.
    Entry-level cars have cruise control and electric front windows, but the DStyle trim adds air-con, daytime running lights and tinted rear windows to enhance that nightclub-like atmosphere.

  • How reliable is it?

    Citroen has improved its game in the reliability stakes in recent years, and the DS3 certainly feels like a well-built car. It didn't feature in this year's JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the closely related C3 was awarded an above average score for mechanical reliability.
    All versions come with stability control and six airbags as standard, and the outer back seats have Isofix child seat mounting points. The DS3 has been crash-tested by Euro NCAP crash tests, where it scored 87% for adult safety and 71% for child protection. An Audi A1 is a safer option, then.

  • Should I buy one?

    Snaffle a juicy discount and a Citroen DS3 won't look too expensive. Don't go over the top when you're customising the car and it should be a desirable used buy, too. The lower-powered diesel claims over 70mpg on average; disappointing news for your local fuel station.