In-depth reviews

DS 3 review - Engines, performance and drive

The DS 3 is nimble around town, but far from exciting when you hit the open road

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.0 out of 5

£25,970 to £42,035
Find your DS 3
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?

Just like a number of its Citroen siblings, the DS 3 has been developed with comfort in mind, rather than sportiness. It’s relatively light on its feet, with soft, compliant suspension and reasonable refinement. It isn’t the most engaging small SUV, however; the Ford Puma sets the benchmark for this class in that respect, but even the Peugeot 2008, with which the DS shares its basic platform, feels sharper to drive.

The DS 3 is better suited to smaller city streets, we feel, because faster driving really is not its forte. There aren’t many thrills to be had, either, given that the light steering is devoid of feeling, although it does make this small SUV easy to manoeuvre around town.

The DS 3 comes with the option of a frugal 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol or fully-electric power. If you’re going to go with petrol power, the PureTech 130 is the pick of the bunch. It’s the more powerful version of the turbocharged 1.2-litre three-pot that revs cleanly and even sounds a little sporty. We did find the 8-speed automatic gearbox that’s paired with the PureTech 130 engine can feel a bit sluggish at higher speeds but it’s fine when in town. 

Meanwhile the electric DS 3 E-Tense doesn’t leap forward or pin you back in your seat like the fastest EVs we’ve tested. Instead it feels more natural when accelerating, with similar off-the-line progression to a petrol DS 3 with an automatic transmission.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed       

There is the choice of either a 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol engine or an all-electric powertrain available in the DS 3. The petrol engine range kicks off with the PureTech 100 that produces 99bhp, is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and is only available in the base Performance Line spec. 0-62mph in this DS 3 takes 10.9 seconds, while the top speed stands at 112mph.

Upgrading to the PureTech 130 bumps the DS 3’s power output up to 128bhp and 230Nm of torque, and adds the eight-speed auto ‘box we mentioned earlier. The 0-62mph time also drops to 9.2 seconds, and top speed goes up to 124mph.

Unlike some EVs, the DS 3 E-Tense isn’t that much faster than its petrol-powered counterparts. The single electric motor that drives the front wheels (just as in the PureTech 100 and 130 editions) produces 154bhp and 260Nm, but due to the extra weight of the 54kWh battery pack, this version takes nine seconds to hit 62mph. It then maxes out at a limited top speed of 93mph.

Most Popular

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost
Jaguar XF Sportbrake - front tracking
Road tests

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost

Jaguar's XF Sportbrake may be 8 years old but it just got a whole lot cheaper!
7 Dec 2023
Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month
Volkswagen ID. Buzz - front cornering

Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month

All-electric MPV offers style and substance - making it our Deal of the Day for Wednesday 6 December
6 Dec 2023
Toyota Yaris review
Toyota Yaris - front tracking
In-depth reviews

Toyota Yaris review

An efficient hybrid powertrain and plenty of standard kit make the Toyota Yaris a key contender in the supermini segment
6 Dec 2023