Citroen DS3 Performance

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Awesome genuinely awesome is probably the shortest most descriptive way to make as clear as possible just how complete the DS3 Performance actually is. Yes, there is a couple of shortcomings but on the whole, DS or as we used to call them Citroen DS3 has got this one right. Past test of the DS3 always revealed that whilst the small hatchback was visually right, popularity of the model proof positive, this stylish little car was always capable of handling far more power. All that was needed were uprated brakes, suspension, racing style seats and a top speed in excess of 140mph, so that’s what they’ve done!


Equally, the DS3’s rallying success cemented the car’s sporting prowess. And whilst a full blown factory WRC rally car has a limited number of links to its showroom equivalent, it proved beyond doubt that a standard DS3 could have serious sporting potential. So at last here it is, the DS3 Performance, in many ways a homage to the WRC version as it starts to bow out gracefully and a hot hatch more than worthy of the title. All you now have to do is work out are you restraining the car or yourself, the Performance part of the title maybe something of an understatement.


Externally the Performance retains the familiar DS3 profile although the matte black paintwork with gold detailing, graphics kit, carbon inserts, rear spoiler, 18” Black Nemesis alloys and directional 205/45 Michelin Pilot Super Sport, tangible lower ride height and wider track hint that this version isn’t quite the standard fodder. Equally, the deep front splitter, black grille, hawkish front light clusters, deeper side skirts, heavily tinted glass and complete lack of a reflective surface score high on the aggressive chart. Even before you open the door, this DS3 looks right.


And with stiffened, rally derived MacPherson strut and coil front suspension with a deformable beam at the rear, the car doesn’t even move should you push against it. What DS have retained is the 3’s practicality, apart from the burbling twin chrome tailpipes, there’s still the usual wide opening doors and small tailgate, all of which means that in this guise you get to and from the supermarket far quicker.


Inside the black lined cabin two fully hip and shoulder bolstered alcantara racing style seats await, a thick leather, fully adjustable sports steering wheel and leather clad gearlever, the multi-function taken care of by the small paddle style protrusions located just behind. A fabric dash roll and high set shroud shade the easy to read instruments, auxiliary readouts taken care of by the centrally located 7” touch screen, satnav and 6-speaker hifi control. All I would call into question is the gold insert that runs along the length of the dashboard, the fact it echoes the two-tone exterior better left to the roof and wing mirrors.


Sporting it might be but there’s still decent room for up to four passengers and 285 litres of cargo space that more than doubles with the 60:40 split rear seats folded. It’s rumoured that there’s a towing capacity but you just wouldn’t ruin the rear lines with a hitch. You wouldn’t even bother if you couldn’t get anyone in the back seats, the Performance better reserved for just two front seat occupants. If you want to carry friends and cargo, buy one of the other DS3’s.


Under the short almost letterbox sized bonnet sits the small transverse engine that gives the Performance the rights to the name. Located as low as possible and set back, the 1,598cc direct injection turbocharged petrol engine delivers 210hp and a very usable 300Nm or torque. Mated in the case of the car on test to a 6-speed manual transmission although a paddle change is optional, average fuel consumption over a week’s mixed motoring equated to 38.9mpg with a motorway best of 44.5mpg. More or less the factory suggested figures they are still more than acceptable for a car such as the DS3 Performance, the 50 litre tank more than able to provide a range of at least 450 miles per refill.


To drive this DS3’s other addition comes very quickly into play; the Torsen limited-slip differential goes a considerable way in reducing torque steer and tramp although damp surfaces at times push it beyond its limits. Overall the Performance is a genuinely exceptional car to drive and use the car’s response, sharp and controllable handling, and performance and feel everything a true driver looks for. The 3.1 turns lock to lock variable power steering and every other part of the DS relays first-rate feedback to the driver, the hands, feet and backside all receptors of the car’s ability to communicate with the driver.


The transmission is quick and positive, the feel and retardation of the Brembo Sports Braking split circuit ABS system more than up to the task of hauling the car to a halt, the 143mph top speed and 6.5 seconds 0-62mph demanding of this type of braking ability. Sat behind the wheel the driver feels part of the car, this DS3 almost puppy like in its willingness to please, the exhaust ready to bark the moment it’s asked. Under everyday driving the Performance is surprisingly tame although do beware the car’s ability to gain speed considerably in excess of what the surroundings may dictate.


On open roads and the narrow twisties the DS3 Performance comes alive. Push the two-stage throttle past the initial stop and be prepared to issue precise orders otherwise the DS3 will most definitely try and have its own way. You also start to understand as to why Loeb was able to achieve such high levels of success in the factory DS3’s. Work with the Performance and it’ll work with you to a degree and to quote the old adage, you’ll shorten straights and straighten bends to a degree you’re more than likely to seek out the longer more demanding routes between A and B. Inherently neutral even when provoked, something you’ll feel inclined to do on a frequent basis, turn in early, feed on the power and this DS3 will respond with enthusiasm. Brake hard and late into the tightest of corners and you’ll be back on the power far earlier than in similar cars, the car’s race derived drive train more than able to reward and appreciate spirited handling.   


Yes, a couple more cup holders and oddment bins would be appreciated whilst the 36A insurance group and Band D road fund license could be off putting for certain potential owners. But at £23,345 for the DS3 Performance as tested or £350 less if you delete the graphics, this DS represents in our opinion good value for money whilst the usual comprehensive PSA warranties apply. If you want to save slightly more the basic Performance comes in at £20,995 whilst £25,495 will get you the range topping BRM Chronographes. The DS3’s as a whole are great little cars but the Performance spec finally addresses what has been lacking for far too long. If this little DS fails to inspire you then you’ve given up on driving!   


                       


By; Mark Stone




DS3 Performance