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In-depth reviews

DS 3 - 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

Price
£25,970 to £42,035
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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.

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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 has 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 100 is the pick of the bunch. Despite being the least powerful DS 3 it’s a torquey engine with plenty of mid-range pulling power that copes well in town, and only needs working a little harder on faster A roads and Motorway speeds to keep up with traffic. The more powerful PureTech 130 comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can feel a bit sluggish at higher speeds, and isn’t as smooth as we’d like around town when trundling through traffic and when parking. 

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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 a 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 starts with the PureTech 100 and is only available in the base Performance Line spec. The standard six-speed manual gearbox helps make the most of the 100bhp output of this engine, and its 0-62mph of 10.9 seconds is perfectly capable of keeping up with traffic. 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 the 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.

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