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Car group tests

DS 3 Performance vs Ford Fiesta ST200 vs MINI JCW Sport

We see if the sizzling new DS 3 Performance Black has what it takes to beat the Ford Fiesta ST200 and MINI JCW Sport

French manufacturers have a rich history in the hot hatch market. Search through the back catalogue of cars in this class and you’ll find a trail of brilliant models from the other side of the Channel – and since DS split from Citroen and set out on its own as a standalone brand, there’s a new small performance car on sale.

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While the DS 3 has been offered in hot guise in the past, the DS 3 Racing was branded as a Citroen and only 200 cars came to the UK. There’s no cap on production of the new DS 3 Performance we’ve lined up here, with the company aiming to bring luxury and speed to the masses. But there’s a glut of talented hot hatches that have been doing this very convincingly for a long while now.

Ford’s Fiesta ST is a sublime-handling, tuned three-door, and here in new limited-edition ST200 guise it boasts some unique design features to set it apart from the rest of the range – not to mention a power hike. Meanwhile, the MINI John Cooper Works aims to offer a premium alternative to the ST, mixing the DS’s luxury with just as much performance potential.

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• Best hot hatchbacks on sale right now

However, when the Fiesta and JCW last met last year, the Ford came out on top thanks to the addition of its Mountune performance upgrades. Can the MINI turn the tables here, or will the DS 3 Performance sweep in and steal both cars’ thunder? 

Head-to-head 

Gearboxes

The MINI is the only car available with an automatic box. However, we’d recommend sticking with the standard six-speed manual, as the positive shift action adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the driving experience, while there’s an auto rev matching feature that gives a little blip on the way down the gears, unlike in the DS or Ford. It will also save you £1,325. 

Badge history

DS doesn’t have the performance history of its challengers. While ST-badged Fords have been on sale since the nineties and MINI’s relationship with the Cooper nameplate dates back to the sixties original, DS Performance marks the introduction of a new era for the brand’s road cars.

Customisation

Like the regular DS 3 and MINI, customisation options on these top-spec models are extensive. Both our cars have contrasting roofs, and different decal packs are available. With the ST200 what you see is what you get; it’s only available in Storm Grey. 

Verdict 

First place: Ford Fiesta ST200

The ST200 is not the sweet spot in the fast Fiesta range. We’d save some money and go for a Mountune-upgraded ST-3 if you want more performance and just as much kit. Still, there are no complaints about the Ford’s revised chassis. It steers more sweetly, rides better, is the most practical of our trio and will be cheap to run. Factor in the engine and it’s more fun than its rivals.

Second place: MINI JCW Sport

MINI’S JCW runs the ST200 a close second. It’s less pricey than you might think on a PCP deal, and while the extra power over the Ford gives it the edge in a straight line, it’s also slightly more economical. It’s still good to drive, but doesn’t serve up the same sensations as the ST, plus it lacks practicality. Costly options needed to level the equipment spec put it in second place.

Third place: DS 3 Performance

It’s easy to spot the DS 3 Performance Black’s roots; while the engine’s punch is impressive, and the chassis grippy, it still feels like an old car. The ride and refinement aren’t in the same league as its rivals, and although it’s well equipped and efficient, it won’t set your pulse racing. Ultimately, hot hatches have to cover all bases, and the DS is found wanting in some areas. 

Other options in this category 

Ford Fiesta ST-3 Mountune

Price: £20,344Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 212bhp

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It’s not as quick as the JCW, but the regular ST is faster than the DS 3 or ST200. As it gets the ST200 chassis upgrades as well, it’s now even more usable, and you’ll save yourself at least 10 per cent over our test cars.

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Price: £18,630Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 202bhp

If performance per pound matters to you, the Corsa VXR delivers. It’s £4,365 cheaper than the DS, but offers similar pace, with 202bhp and 280Nm. But it’s not as talented as the Fiesta or MINI.

Figures

 Ford Fiesta ST200MINI JCW Sport AutoDS 3 Performance Black
On the road price/total as tested£22,745/£22,995£24,520/£27,835£22,995/£23,345
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£8,850/38.9%£11,341/46.3%£9,426/41.0%
Depreciation£13,895£13,180£13,569
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,128/£2,256£1,119/£2,238.8£1,009/£2,019
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,655/£2,759£1,561/£2,601£1,438/£2,396
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost30/£680/E/£13029/£1,106/E/£13036/£685/D/£110
Servicing costs£550 (3yrs)£399 (5yrs/50,000)£99 (3yrs/35,000)
    
Length/wheelbase3,982/2,489mm3,874/2,495mm3,948/2,452mm
Height/width1,495/1,709mm1,414/1,727mm1,483/1,715mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,596cc4cyl in-line/1,998cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc
Peak power/revs 197/5,700 bhp/rpm228/5,200 bhp/rpm207/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 290/1,600 Nm/rpm320/1,250 Nm/rpm300/3,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd auto/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/£10044 litres/£6550 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)290/974 litres211/731 litres285/980 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,163/412kg1,295/480kg1,250/357kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.1 metres/0.33Cd10.8 metres/0.34Cd10.4 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/781Variable/14816,000 miles (1yr)/196
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.27th/27th29th/21st26th/18th (Citroen)
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars91/86/65/71/5 (2012)79/73/66/56/4 (2014)87/71/35/83/5 (2009)
    
0-60/30-70mph6.8/5.1 secs5.7/4.6 secs6.4/5.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.7/3.7 secs2.4/3.3 secs2.7/3.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th4.7/5.8 secs4.8/6.2 secs5.2/6.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 142mph/2,750rpm152mph/2,900rpm143mph/2,600rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 47.4/33.5/9.8m44.0/32.8/8.3m47.1/33.3/9.8m
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range73/53/66/73dBN/A77/53/69/76dB
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph36.3/8.0/383 miles38.5/8.5/373 miles41.8/9.2/460 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 34.4/57.6/46.3mpg39.2/57.6/49.6mpg40.9/61.4/52.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 7.6/12.7/10.2mpl8.6/12.7/10.9mpl9.0/13.5/11.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket180/140g/km/25%170/133g/km/23%156/125g/km/22%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/y/£200/£250Six/yes/£260/£255Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB*No/yes/yes/noYes/yes/yes/£440No/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part-leather/yes£325/£1,075/£215Yes/no/no
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless goNo/no/yes£475/LED/£215No/yes/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yes£595/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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