Although the DS3's actual technical bits and our preconceptions originally made us believe this isn't exactly a very good car to have fun in on some twisty roads, we were dead wrong. Sure, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is quite a bit detuned from the one we tested in the Mini Cooper S, while the rear suspension is semi-independent instead of multi-link. Also, the car is a Citroen, so we shouldn't have expected a sporty handling at all.
As it turns out, the car isn't bad at all when it comes to be driven hard. Despite having 25 horsepower less and actually weighing a bit more (!?!) than the Mini Cooper S, the Citroen DS3 1.6 THP can really keep up when driven hard on the twisties. Sure, when talking about numbers it's slower by 0.3 seconds to 100 km/h (62 mph), since it requires 7.3 seconds. Also, the DS3s top speed is about 14 km/h (9 mph) slower than the Cooper S', with only 214 km/h (133 mph).
The suspension is a bit archaic, but you wouldn't know it just from driving the car. Its setup is exactly what you would expect from a comfortable Citroen, but it also adds a pretty good dose of sporty flair. Along with the 17-inch wheels with low side tire walls, the suspension helps the car to tackle corners like a pro (read: almost hot hatch territory).
Although it's a bit more "boatish" than its number one competitors in the curves, the DS3 with the Sport Chic trim doesn't feel like any other modern Citroen when it comes to be trashed around some serpentine mountain roads. The engine pulls with almost no perceptible turbo lag from an unbelievable 1400 rpm, while the six-speed manual gearbox is honestly the best we've ever experienced in a Citroen since... maybe forever.
Moreover, the fuel consumption is not half bad, considering it can keep up with much more powerful cars. We managed to achieve as low as 6 liters per 100 km (US 39.2 mpg) when driving calmly and using the cruise control. When trying to imitate Sebastien Loeb on Col de Turini, the average fuel consumption pretty much doubled, so over 13 liters per 100 km (US 18 mpg) are possible, but only if you drive like a madman.
As far as the DS3's low points, we could have used a bit more feel from the steering, especially when driven in a sportier manner. Also, the DS3 is a bit too much sound-proofed, so you can't really experience the same sporty sounds you hear in a Cooper S in "Sport" mode, for example. Too bad, since the car is capable of an almost similar performance with the aforementioned. Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Wow! Just wow! I never thought I would say this about a small Citroen. For me, the Mini was close to being the perfect car, despite all its drawbacks. Or was it the Alfa MiTo? After driving this DS3 I'm slowly beginning to reconsider my opinion anyway. Can't I have all of them, though?
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