For nearly a year we have, as a family, gone down to one car, selling our C5 and trading it in for a Qashqai which we hoped would be enough. My husband has been cycling 18 miles (round trip) to work and back each day, and although he has got super fit, he point blank refused to cycle through another winter. With the option of getting a lease car through work, we decided to go for it and after a ten week wait, our shiney new DS3 D-Sport arrived straight from the docks with all of 4 miles on the clock. To say we are in love is an understatement! Some people just don't get the whole 'car thing', but unfortunately on our pockets, we are mad about having nice cars, and well this is one nice car!
Opting for the HDi D-Sport was an easy option, it comes with all the extras you would expect of a sports car, but with the economic stop-start technology, meaning you are driving a sports car, but you get the fuel economy of a hybrid (practically!). We decided that the Diesel option was the better option for us, despite the petrol being a better car, performance wise.
Looks wise, in my opinion you cannot fault this super-mini. Its bang on the buck with its permanent daytime LED strip lights down the front bumper (very much a 'look at me' statement day or night), the two tone colour options (you really would be a fool to order this car in one block colour), and the sporty slightly bucketed seats inside with a gloss black dash. The little extra details are what make this car, even down to the DS symbol inside the brake lights. The silver flashes of trim along the door, or the chrome arms of the wing mirrors all add to the finish. The alloys are customisable on order, and we opted for some black ones with silver edging to compliment the tinted rear windows and silver trims.
With manual six speed gear change, it is comfortable to drive, the sports suspension means you will notice bumps more than in other cars. I notice a massive difference between the Qashqai and the DS3, but it would be foolish to compare this car to a 4x4. My particular model offers (1.6 e-HDi (115bhp) Airdream DSport 3d) a top speed of 118mph, with 115 bhp and a 0-60mph speed in 9.4 seconds, however, opt for the 16v (1.6 THP 16V DSport 3d ) and you're going to shave 2 seconds off the 0-60mph time (133mph top speed, 150 bhp, 7.1 seconds).
The stop start technology takes a little while to get used to. For this to kick in when stopped at a junction or in traffic, you need to be in neutral and have your foot off the clutch. the car will automatically turn itself off, whilst still using its air con, radio, lights etc. The moment you put your foot on the clutch, the car instantly restarts but without any judder which you would expect. Because of this, the car is ultra economical (and the 6 speed also contributes to this). Expect to obtain 60mpg (actual) plus for combined round town / motorway driving.
With an insurance group of 19, it's just below middle of the road, with the top insurance group being 50. My car is a lease car so I pay one payment which includes the car, servicing, insurance, you name it, so I can't comment on the insurance, but the insurance group should give you some idea.
Now for the impressive part, with C02 emissions of 99 g/km, this car will set you back the grand sum of £0 a year for road tax. Yes, you read that right, this sports car will entitle you to free road tax. Neat!
Comparisons to similar cars:
Having the experience of two previous Citroens (the C5 for just under a year and a C2 for around 3 years), we have a nice little comparison with other Citroens, and the result is that there is no comparison. This has to be the best Citroen they've ever produced and will certainly be hard to beat, even down to its build quality which feels like anything but a Citroen. With its premium interior feel and its stylish looks, it has been compared to the Fiat 500 and even the Mini, but while those cars are retro remakes, the DS3 is a standalone car and in my opinion is better than the other two previous leaders of the market in the super mini range.
A nice little touch is the scented air freshener which you can personalise and adjust the intensity to suit you. Sitting on the dash in a funky chrome dial, one cartridge should last you around a month. They come in various scents such as Vanilla, Pacific, Mango (I have this one and its lovely) and Lime Fresh. You can pick them up online for around £12.
I can't write this review and not tell you about the 'purr'! This car has such a sweet sound without being in your face! Last week in the scorching temperatures, despite having perfectly cool air con, I drove with the windows open, just so I could listen to the discreet yet wonderful purrs of this car. Heaven!
The MP3/ USB connectivity port means you can plug in your phone or other device to listen your music as well as charge your phone. I have used this a few times when my phone has run out of battery and I have had a spare cable in the glove box. It doesn't charge particularly quickly, but it will bring your phone back to life until you're able to charge it to a mains plug.
Awarded the maximum five stars for crash protection from Euro NCAP, you can rest assured that you'll be safe in this car. The test covers adult occupant safty as well as rear impact whiplash and child and pedestrian safety. For its tiny size, this car is one tough cookie. The 6 airbags will only add to the reassurance you will feel in this car, and if you have young children, the Isofix child seat anchor points will also be a nice little tick in the box. The ESP stability control and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, only add to its yells of 'I'm a safe car!'
Extras that I would have liked to see:
Being a little spoilt in my Qashqai, it is easy to spot what is 'missing' from the DS3 despite it being an unfair comparison between a 4x4 and a super mini. The camera to reverse and sat nav would have been nice but I wouldn't have expected these from this small car, however my electric folding mirrors are noticeably absent, and this would have been a lovely addition to have. Also the centre console to rest the arm when driving, and store items in would also have been nice. These are of course optional extras but it would have been nice to have seen them as standard.
The DS3 is probably most well-known for its wide range of colour options, and we have only seen one exactly the same as ours (and that was in France!). There are 28 colour combinations, including customisation of the 'floating roof' which appears to float as it is only touched by glass not coloured body panels. The 9 body colours and 4 roof colours mean you can make the car a reflection of you (I've seen lots of pink and black combos!). We opted for 'Belle Isle Blue' with a white roof. Even the floor mats come to match your customisation, so every detail really is considered. The funky keyfob also matches your colour scheme!
CITROËN DS3 crowned Top Gear magazine 'Car Of The Year', and the 'Small Car of the Year' in 2010.
Carbuyers: 'Best Hot Hatch'.
Fifth Gear's 'Small Car of the Year'.
The list price of my specific model is £17,750.00, but they can be picked up second hand for around £12,000 with just under 20,000 miles on the clock.