Citroen DS3 2021 review

The Citroen DS3 is a stylish supermini that helped to establish DS as a separate entity

£5,084
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Cool design
  • Cheap to run
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Not much rear space
  • Not as ‘premium’ as rivals
  • Thirsty petrol engines
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

While you might know DS as a separate entity to Citroen these days – it sells completely different models, albeit with shared underpinnings – that hasn’t always been the case. 

While the ‘DS’ nameplate was first used in the 1950s on a futuristic executive car, Citroen revitalised the insignia in 2010 with the DS 3 as it tried to establish a more ‘premium’ line-up of models. 

The DS 3 arrived as a cool-looking upmarket supermini that went head-to-head with the Mini, and featured a modern design, impressive personalisation options and a surprising amount of tech, with touchscreens even featuring on higher-spec models. That might seem a given today, but in 2010 it wasn’t so common for them to feature on a supermini. 

The model received a stylish update in 2019, which ushered in new LED lighting and Xenon headlights, along with a cleaner range of Euro 6 compliant petrol and diesel engines. 

Latest model

Citroen kept running the ‘DS 3’ under its own badge until 2015, at which point DS Automobiles formally split from the more mainstream French firm.

That said, the DS 3 would continue under DS with minimal changes – the key way of telling the difference between the models being the absence of the Citroen chevrons and new ‘DS’ badge. It would carry on until 2019, at which point the model was scrapped, with the nameplate then going on to feature on the brand’s Crossback compact SUV. 

Value for money

When new, the Citroen DS 3 was quite a pricey option in this class, and even more expensive than Mini at the time, with top-spec versions costing almost £20,000. 

Today, though, this Citroen is a brilliant used buy, with high-mileage examples now available for less than £3,000. If it’s a diesel model, you also shouldn’t be frightened if a car has plenty of miles on the clock (providing it’s been serviced). 

If you’d like something a bit newer, smart low-mileage 2015 examples are available from around £5,500, which still seems good value for money. Even the latest Citroen-badged models don’t exceed around £7,500, either. 

Looks and image

While the DS 3 might have been on sale since 2010, we reckon it’s  aged brilliantly well – particularly on the exterior, where it still looks stylish and modern, even by today’s standards. Where possible we’d look out for a model with the larger 17-inch alloy wheels, which add more style to this premium hatchback, while extensive personalisation and plenty of examples for sale mean it’s easy to find a colour combination that suits you. 

Interior technology has moved on a long way, though, and the DS 3 lacks the more modern flair of rivals, though if you can find a model with the touchscreen system (more likely to be found on later cars), it adds to the appeal. The rest of the cabin is pleasant, though, with this model having a more premium interior than the rest of the Citroen range thanks to a range of materials and finishes, though it’s not on par with the Audi A1 or Mini when it comes to quality. 

It’s also quite pleasant behind the wheel, with a sportier feel than a typical Citroen has. With plenty of grip, well-controlled body lean and well-weighted steering, it’s good to drive, and enhanced further by the more powerful engines available. The more stylish 17-inch alloy wheels do compromise ride comfort, though, so it could be worth finding a model with the 16s if you’re prioritising comfort. 

Space and practicality

With all DS 3s coming with three doors, it means this hatchback isn’t as practical as other five-door superminis – including Citroen’s own C3 and the Renault Clio

Wide-opening front doors means access to the rear isn’t as difficult as other cars in this class, but there isn't much room in the back once you’re there. The boot is a decent size, though, and measures up to 285 litres, which is by no means class-leading, but more than the Mini and Fiat 500. Folding the rear seats increases the room on offer to 980 litres. 

Engines 

A strong choice of both petrol and diesel engines are available on the Citroen DS 3, with the line-up beginning with a 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, followed by a pair 1.6-litre petrol units, which are available with 118bhp or 148bhp. The latter is really quite nippy, too, with a speedy 0-60mph time of 7.1 seconds that puts it in hot hatch territory. 

Moving over to the diesels, it’s a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit that’s used, and offered in outputs of 89bhp or 108bhp. 

Most DS 3s you’ll see for sale will come with a manual gearbox, though an automatic option was available on the 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit.

Running costs

If you’re looking to keep running costs down, it’s the diesel models you should be looking for.

That’s because this 1.6-litre engine is particularly efficient, with Citroen claiming it’ll return an impressive 74.3mpg, while CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean it also qualifies for free tax. Just be aware that this is dependent on trim level, so it’s worth checking this on the particular car you’re looking at buying. 

The petrols shouldn’t be thirsty to run, but with a fuel economy figure of around 45mpg, and CO2 emissions ranging from 135-155g/km, they will be noticeably more expensive to run and tax. 

The only downside, though, is that you might notice insurance premiums are quite high because of the DS 3’s more powerful engines, so it’s not a great first car choice in this respect. 

Things to look out for 

While more of a ‘premium’ model than the rest of the Citroen range, it shares much in common with the brand’s other cars, and has largely proven to be a relatively dependable choice. 

Key things to look out for are the alloy wheels – particularly diamond-cut ones – as these let the side down when kerbed. The fastest 148bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit can suffer from a stretched timing chain and excessive oil use – a rattly engine is the biggest sign of this. 

Rivals

If you’re considering the DS 3 over a regular supermini, it’s likely because of the way it looks. And if you like its style, you should also look at the Mini, Fiat 500 and Vauxhall Adam, while the Audi A1 is a good option, if noticeably pricier on the used market. 

A Seat Ibiza, Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo are also good options if you want a more mainstream supermini. 

Depreciation

Given the Citroen DS 3 hasn’t been on sale since 2015, it means all models have been hit by that initial depreciation. 

That said, it remains a desirable used car option, so values won’t plummet in the way other more mainstream superminis do. 

Trims explained

While other special editions were available, the Citroen DS 3 was sold in three main trims – DSign, DStyle and DSport. Equipment highlights and pricing as follows.

DSign

While the entry-point to the range, this DS 3 still came with a decent amount of standard kit, including cruise control, front fog lights, a radio and CD player and electric door mirrors. It came with 16-inch wheels with plastic trims, too, along with a trip computer and a leather steering wheel.

From £3,000

DStyle

Upgrading to the DStyle adds more attractive LED daytime running lights, along with interior mood lighting, a contrasting roof colour, 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and air conditioning.

From £3,000

DSport

At the top of the range, the DSport comes with 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, along with a roof spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips and climate control. You also get an upgraded alarm system, Bluetooth, a Hi-Fi system and additional chrome exterior and interior styling.

From £3,000

Summary

  1. Striking look
  2. Still looks modern
  3. Launched by Citroen in 2010, but became a ‘DS’ in 2015
  4. Plenty of standard kit
  5. Interior not as premium as rivals
  6. Efficient diesel engines
  7. Decent reliability reputation
  8. Not especially spacious
  9. Lots of personalisation options
  10. A desirable used supermini

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