DS 3 review - Does French hatch match a Mini for fun? - Ride and Handling

A car first, now a brand, the DS3 is Citroen’s spin-off that’s aiming at the premium players

Evo rating
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from £13,995
  • Entertaining drive, fine styling, interesting interior and plenty personalisation makes for a fun Mini rival
  • The Mini does everything a little bit better

The DS3 might be positioned to try and steal sales from Mini, but if a pointy, enjoyable hatch is your thing then the British car is more likely to appeal. That’s not to say that the French hatch doesn’t have the ability to raise a grin, it’s just not as polished dynamically as its omnipresent British rival. The steering offers decent weight, if not a huge amount of feel, but the DS 3’s nose is faithful enough if not quite as quick to turn in as its key rival.

Neither does the suspension have quite the control of the Mini, the DS 3 sacrificing some agility in a bid for greater ride comfort. It’s only partially successful, as although it’s a bit less busy on rough surfaces, it’s not quite the supple, smooth-riding hatch - and certainly nothing like the floating-on-a-cloud ride you’d get on its classic DS namesake.

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In the DS 3 Performance there’s decent grip and a more incisive turn-in, but it still lacks the few degrees of involvement that take it from merely good to borderline exceptional. Like other DS 3s, it starts to become ragged when driven at a greater pace, losing precision and losing the sense of balance it has when driven more gently.

Opt for the convertible and the dynamics are largely unchanged. The weight difference between it and its closed roof hatch relative is only 25kg. However, despite the Cabriolet losing only a small section of its roof - the central canvas section drops back like that of an old 2CV rather than folding entirely like a Mini Convertible - the car seems to lose a significant degree of structural stiffness. Bumpy roads send some disconcerting shudders through the cabin, windscreen surround, wheel... if you didn't know better, you'd be surprised it had a roof at all. 

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