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Citroen DS3 HDi

Hot petrol model tops class, but does diesel make as much sense?

It's fair to say the bold new DS3 has been a resounding success for Citroen. With its mix of head-turning looks and a premium cabin, the stylish supermini has kick-started the company’s move upmarket.
It has also claimed a few high-profile scalps on the way.

In Issue 1,107, the turbocharged petrol model was victorious in a bruising encounter with the MINI Cooper S and Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf. Now, it’s the turn of the diesel-engined DS3 to attempt a similar giant-slaying act. Using essentially the same 1.6-litre unit as the Fiesta, the £15,900 Citroen aims to deliver a great mix of desirability, driving thrills and low running costs.

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Take one look at the DS3, and it’s clear that the striking, three-door machine means business. The bold lines and neat detailing of the standard car are given a sporty twist, with a few carefully chosen additions. At the front, two vertical strips of LED daytime running lights are set into the bumper, while moving around to the rear reveals a racy, chrome-trimmed, twin-exit exhaust. Completing the look is a set of colour-coded 17-inch alloys.

Buyers wanting more visual impact can choose from a range of options, including a variety of paint finishes for the roof, door mirrors and wheels. Extra chrome trim and decals add even more customisation potential.

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Inside, the Citroen trades the bright and airy atmosphere of the Fiesta for a more cosseting, upmarket feel. The dashboard features aluminium-rimmed dials and a carbon fibre-effect finish. Alternatively, buyers can pay £100 for the body colour treatment inside our car and get drilled metal pedals, supportive seats and a leather-trimmed wheel.

Also, there’s more standard kit than in the Ford. Rear passengers don’t get quite as much room, although the large grab handles set into the B-pillar make access to the cabin easy. A 285-litre boot and split/fold rear seat help boost the Citroen’s versatility.

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Practicality has to share top billing with performance in most pocket rockets, though – and the DS3 doesn’t disappoint. Its 109bhp engine has 20bhp more power, while its six-speed box offers shorter ratios, so it covers 0-60mph in only 9.6 seconds. There’s more overtaking pace, too, as the Citroen races from 30-50mph in 3.8 seconds – that’s 1.5 seconds faster than the Ford.

On the open road, the first thing that impresses is the DS3’s refinement. Engine and road noise are well suppressed, while the compliant ride soaks up imperfections very well, so the car is deceptively quick over bumpy, twisty roads. It can’t quite match the Fiesta for out-and-out fun, but it’s close enough not to be a disappointment.

Direct steering and its wheel-at-each-corner stance serve up great agility, while progressive brakes and a precise gearshift complete thestrong dynamic package.

The Citroen continues to impress when you take financial considerations into account. Not only does the DS3 cost less to buy than its rival, it will also hold more of its value. Adding further appeal is a low-cost pre-paid servicing deal. This works out at £200 for the first three years of scheduled maintenance.

Plus, it comes with a stack of standard equipment which the Fiesta simply can’t match.

So, is this yet another road test victory for the new Citroen?

Details

Chart position: 1
WHY: Sporty petrol variants of the DS3 have already impressed us, but the French manufacturer is famed for its diesel prowess.

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