Citroen DS3 DSport HDi 110

Petrol hot-hatch tops the range but is the diesel version just as impressive?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

As the first car in Citroen's latest design revolution, the DS3 is under a lot of pressure to perform. Thankfully, with striking looks and excellent on-road manners the newcomer looks set to be a success. Add a frugal and responsive diesel engine and the DS3 really becomes an attractive proposition.

The DS3 is one of Citroen's boldest designs yet- its floating roof, cut off B-pillars and colour-coded wheels and wing-mirrors make it an easily recognisable sight on the road. Fit it with a zebra striped-roof, a sky-blue paint-job and 17-inch diamond tipped alloys though and it becomes a real attention-grabber.

Look inside and the funky touches continue. A flash of 'Botticelli Blue' runs across the width of the dashboard while bezeled and recessed dials add a futuristic feel. The contrasting cream and black leather seats are luxurious, comfortable and offer plenty of lateral support.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Citroen DS3

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Under the bonnet sits a 1.6-litre HDi engine which puts out 109bhp. Extra sound-proofing means refinement is impressive and 270Nm of torque gives the DS3 plenty of shove and allows a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds. A sixth ratio and plenty of low down pulling power means the Citroen is just as at home on the motorway.

But, more surprising is how frugal the diesel unit is. Considering the punchy engine rarely feels underpowered, the 62.8mpg combined figure is astounding, let alone kind to your wallet. The same applies to the 118g/km CO2 rating, which will only cost you £30 a year in tax.

The French car rides well, too, soaking up bumps and potholes with ease. The soft suspension set-up means the DS3 isn't quite as engaging as a MINI but it still feels agile and body roll is limited in the corners. Only a lack of steering feedback lets it down.

Our model came in flagship DSport trim, which adds a rear spoiler, double chrome exhaust pipe, automatic air conditioning and Bluetooth over the mid-range DStyle trim. But even basic DSign models come generously equipped, with six airbags, cruise control and air conditioning all standard. Fitted with the basic 1.4i engine, a DSign variant starts at just £11,700.

With the DS3, Citroen have managed to create a quirky premium supermini that is comfortable, handles well and now, with this diesel engine, is incredibly cheap to run. The only thorn in its side, is the MINI D which has a more efficient engine and is marginally more engaging to drive.

But, if you want to stand out from the crowd, the DS3 is an incredibly appealing proposition.

Rival: MINI Cooper D The Cooper leads the way in chassis dynamics and interior quality. The original customisable hatch has great residuals and running costs that the DS3 can't quite match. Although, if you're thinking about buying a MINI but don't want to follow the crowd, then the DS3 is an excellent alternative.

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