Used car tests

Used DS 3 review

A full used buyer’s guide on the DS 3 featuring the Citroen DS3 (2010-2016) and DS 3 (2016-date)

The DS 3 might be nothing more than a rebadged Citroen, but does that matter when it is appealing on so many levels? The metamorphosis from Citroen DS3 to standalone DS 3 didn’t fool anyone, but by the time the brand’s smallest car was facelifted in 2016 it looked sharper and brought some useful updates. While range-topping DS 3s are costly to purchase new, they can be better value as a used buy, especially if they’ve got a few choice features from the options list. Just be aware that there’s an extensive range of extras, with lots of opportunities to personalise every aspect of the car. So pin down exactly what you’re getting for your money before buying a DS.

Citroen is known for building cars that put low purchase prices and running costs first, so when the French brand decided to move upmarket in 2010 with the DS3, some questioned its thinking.

But the DS3 soon proved popular with UK buyers, and it was easy to see why. As well as offering sharp design and decent value, it was good to drive, well made and reliable. Citroen spun off DS as a separate brand in 2014, yet the ‘standalone’ DS 3 didn’t reach showrooms for another year.

Regardless of its name, eight years after the car’s introduction, does buying a second-hand one make sense?

Models covered

  • • Citroen DS3/DS 3 (2010-date) - Funky supermini stands out from the crowd and is roomy and reliable. 

Citroen DS3/DS 3

History

The Citroen DS3 was launched in spring 2010; five years later the same car was unveiled as part of the new DS range, now a Citroen sub-brand.

A facelifted DS 3 went on sale in 2016 and in place of the previous DSign, DStyle, DSport and DSport Plus trims there were now Chic, Elegance and Prestige. Topping the range was a line-up of Performance Black models (comprising Ultra Prestige, Performance and Performance Black variants).

Engine choices were between a naturally aspirated PureTech 82 1.2-litre petrol and a turbocharged version of the same unit (PureTech 110 or 130), a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine in THP165 and THP210 forms, or a 1.6 BlueHDi diesel in 100 and 120 guises.

Citroen DS3 reviews

Citroen DS3 in-depth reviewCitroen DS3 1.6 HDi 90 reviewCitroen DS3 1.6 e-HDi Airdream reviewCitroen DS3 1.6 DSport reviewCitroen DS3 1.6 DSport Red Edition reviewCitroen DS3 1.6 DSport Ultra Prestige reviewCitroen DS3 Racing reviewCitroen DS3 long-term test reviewCitroen DS3 Cabriolet in-depth reviewCitroen DS3 Cabrio 1.6 HDi reviewCitroen DS3 Cabrio 1.6 THP reviewCitroen DS3 Cabrio Racing review

Which one should I buy?

The petrol engines, developed with BMW, are sweet and frugal, but the 1.6 HDi is the star. It’s economical, smooth and torquey; even the 99bhp edition is nippy.

The EAT automatic transmission isn’t that slick, but owners generally get used to it in time. All DS 3s have reasonable equipment levels; the Chic has a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con and cruise control with a speed limiter.

Elegance trim brings climate control, privacy glass, rear parking sensors, sports seats and upgraded interior trim.

The Prestige features 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, electrically folding heated door mirrors and front parking sensors. Automatic lights and wipers, auto emergency braking, Alcantara trim and an upgraded hi-fi are also fitted. 

Alternatives to the Citroen DS3/DS 3

A MINI is the obvious alternative. It’s more expensive to buy and not as practical or as comfortable, yet the build quality is better and there’s more choice.

The Fiat 500 is another rival and, like the Citroen and MINI, comes in open or closed forms. But the Fiat is smaller and much more cramped inside, with a far smaller boot. Still, it’s fun to drive and reasonably reliable, and there are some thrilling Abarth editions available.

For value and fun you can’t really beat the Ford Fiesta. There are lots to choose from and prices are keen, but you won’t stand out in one like you would in a DS 3.

What to look for

Insurance

The THP210 sits in insurance group 36 or 37 – the same as a mid-range BMW 5 Series.

Sensors

All DS 3 Cabrios come with rear parking sensors; entry-level (Chic) hatchbacks don’t get them.

Engines

Some THP units have suffered water pump and turbocharger failures, plus hesitation and misfiring.

Windows

Make sure the windows go up and down smoothly, because the regulators can fail and repairing them is costly.

Interior

The DS 3’s cabin generally feels well made and it looks good, but rear seat access is hampered by the three-door layout. While the seats are comfortable and all cars get a height-adjustable driver’s seat, legroom in the back is tight. There’s a reasonable 285-litre boot (980 litres with the rear seats folded), although the cabrio has a smaller 245-litre load area.

Prices

Running costs

The DS 3 needs a service every year or at 16,000 miles; first and second check-ups cost £156.17. From a car’s third birthday maintenance alternates from minor to major, at £140 and £250. An Essentials option, using pattern parts, drops these prices to £115 and £195.

All engines, except the THPs, have a cambelt; replace this every 10 years or 112,000 miles (£345). Every DS 3 needs new brake fluid every two years (£49), and coolant after four years or 80,000 miles, then annually or every 16,000 miles; the cost of this is included in the service.

Recalls

The DS3 has been recalled 19 times, and the DS 3 five times between March 2016 and December 2017. The first was for a lack of turbo lubrication due to possible oil leaks; the second was for potential ABS or ESP failure.

Gearbox issues caused the third campaign. The most recent two were due to incorrectly tightened steering and suspension fixings and possible engine failure.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

While the DS 3 hasn’t appeared in the Driver Power new or used car satisfaction surveys, the Citroen DS3 just crept into the Driver Power 2017 used car poll in 69th place. There were no high scores; the best was 40th for the exterior design and finish. Practicality and infotainment were both near the bottom of the table.

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