Citroen DS3 THP 165 review and pictures

Stylish French supermini gets engine and visual updates in DS range reshuffle

Evo rating
from £18,880
  • Stylish, agile, not a Mini
  • New engine isn’t the upgrade it seems; not a Mini

What is it?

If you want a car like a Mini but don’t really want a Mini, the Citroen DS3 has been your best option since 2010. The chic French hatchback isn’t due for replacement just yet but does now benefit from a subtle refresh and positioning within a dedicated DS brand – now marketed as a separate entity from the rest of the Citroen lineup and soon to have specialist dealers.

Citroen has sold more than 320,000 DS3s since 2010 so while not the flagship of the DS range (that falls to the larger DS5), it’s still the best representation of what DS stands for. And in such a competitive segment, it still needs to be good.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Technical highlights?

Citroen has finally brought the DS3’s engine lineup bang up to date, with a range of 1.2 Puretech petrols, an updated 1.6 THP (tested here) and the latest range of 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesels. All units are now Euro 6 emissions compliant, and naturally boast more power, torque and greater economy than their predecessors.

The THP now develops 163bhp, and 177lb ft of torque from 1400rpm. With a six-speed manual gearbox it’s got the legs for a 7.5sec 0-62mph sprint (on paper, at least) and 135mph top speed.

What’s it like to drive?

Citroen chose central Paris as its launch venue, in order to showcase its new DS World brand boutique. Unwise, but the city’s legendarily chaotic traffic held off long enough to experience the THP’s handy low-down urge, smooth drivetrain and on the cobbled Parisian streets, its usefully compliant ride quality.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Freed from city confines the engine feels a little less impressive. Despite the test car having more than 2000 miles under its wheels, its 1.6 feels surprisingly unwilling to stretch to the upper reaches of the rev counter. Perhaps that’s a symptom of emissions tuning, as the THP has always impressed in other applications.

Luckily, the DS3 moves briskly enough in the mid range that you rarely have to venture further, but in the absence of an updated DS3 Racing the THP’s lack of top-end pizzazz may prompt keen drivers to look towards some of Citroen's rivals.

The DS3 does remain a compelling package elsewhere. The supple ride doesn’t come at the expense of body control when pitched through corners, nor a lack of grip on the damp roads of our drive. It's nicely balanced too, in the tradition of the best French hatchbacks.

The steering is less darty than a Mini and less talkative than that of a Fiesta, but it’s accurate enough to punt the DS3 around with Parisian brio and plenty of fun.

How does it compare?

You’d need to be sold on the Citroen’s styling and image to choose it over more driver-orientated choices from Mini and Ford, given its pricing - £18,880 is a fair chunk more than you’d pay for a Fiesta ST (£17,250) or even a MINI Cooper S (£18,655), both cars that offer more if driving and performance take precedence over style.

Advertisement - Article continues below

On the plus side, the DS3 is well-equipped (even before the extras that took our test car to over £21,000) and should be inexpensive to run, with 50mpg economy potential. 

Anything else I need to know?

The DS3’s visual updates are minimal, but welcome. The new sweeping LED indicators with xenon projectors and three jewel-like LED lighting units in each lighting unit are most intriguing - a unique concept car touch that speaks volume's about Citroen's ability to get the details right when it really matters.

At the rear, the DS3 Cabrio’s 3D tunnel-style light units now feature on every model. And in keeping with the DS3’s personalisable nature, a whole raft of new roof designs and exterior shades can be selected. The DS3 certainly remains as desirable as ever.

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1598cc, turbocharged
Power163bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque177lb ft @ 1750rpm
0-62mph (claimed)7.5sec
Top speed (claimed)135mph
On saleNow

More on DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 hatchback

Craig Breen's amazing on-board from the Circuit of Ireland rally

Breen gives us a perfect lesson in threading a car along a narrow road at stunning speeds
11 Apr 2016
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Kris Meeke's Citroën DS3 WRC Goodwood onboard | evo Diaries

We ride shotgun with a WRC winner in his 300bhp rally car
3 Jul 2015
Citroen DS3 hatchback

WRC Argentina - Kris Meeke takes emotional first victory

Citroen WRC driver dedicates his win to Colin McRae
27 Apr 2015
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Kris Meeke's Citroën DS3R WRC | evo Diaries

Henry Catchpole rides shotgun with Kris Meeke in his Citroën DS3R WRC before sampling the 300bhp rally car for himself...
19 Nov 2014
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Three new Citroen DS models

Citroen will unveil a new DS saloon, DS SUV and DS luxury car, with one concept at the 2013 Shanghai motor show
24 Jan 2013
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 'Red' launched

A new special edition 'Red' Citroen DS3 has been launched in the UK.
3 Jan 2013
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing versus hot hatch rivals

Citroen re-enters the hot hatch class with its 204bhp DS3 Racing. But is it exciting enough to beat Clio 200 Cup, Polo GTI, Corsa VXR and Mini JCW? Re…
19 Dec 2011
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing v hot hatch rivals video

The new 204bhp Citroen DS3 Racing battles hot hatch rivals from Renaultsport, Mini, Vauxhall and VW
24 Jan 2011
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing review

We try Citroen's new hot hatchback, the 204bhp DS3 Racing. A Renault Clio 200 and Mini JCW beater?
8 Dec 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing review

Fastest Citroen DS3 yet has its sights set on the Renault Clio 200 and Mini John Cooper Works
19 Nov 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 1.6 HDI 110 diesel review

We road test Citroen's most powerful diesel DS3 hatchback, with 110bhp and 199lb ft for £15,900
4 Oct 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 WRC rally car revealed

Citroen pulls the wraps off Sebastien Loeb's new wheels, the DS3 WRC world rally car
1 Oct 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 v Renaultsport Clio 200 v Mini Cooper S v Abarth 500

Citroen makes its first hot hatch in years. We pitch the DS3 turbo against rivals from Renault, Mini and Abarth
3 Sep 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing details announced

204bhp, 146mph, and a surprisingly high price. Citroen has released full details of the DS3 Racing.
23 Aug 2010
Citroen DS3 hatchback

Citroen DS3 Racing review

Citroen's new hot hatch driven for the first time. Can the DS3 Racing rival the Renault Clio 200?
30 Jun 2010