Jeremy Clarkson is responsible for me wanting to get my hands on a Citroen DS3 Sport. Although I’d seen it notch up many rally championship wins, it was the black and orange version on TopGear, that made it a must drive for me.
I saw many DS3 Sport’s in various colour combos in France last year and each looked as cool in the flesh as Clarkson’s on the telly.
The test car wooed everybody who saw it with its gorgeously crafted alloy wheels, slimline chrome grille, daylights, tinted glass and unique softly-edged three-door body, resplendent in white with black roof. Comments included cool, racy, adorable, cheeky, perky, sweet and cute.
Inside it is cosy but equally ‘cool’ with a carbon-look and gloss-black dash, hugging sports seats, a multifunction display screen, flashes of chrome and a thick rimmed ‘clean’ steering wheel, bereft of cruise and audio controls, which are hidden behind the wheel on stalks. The back seat is the domain of kids, being tight on leg and headroom and the privacy glass does tend to make it feel smaller again.
Backing its style is the DS3 Sport’s on-road substance and its rally-bred engineering comes to the fore. It is similar to the Ford Fiesta ST with its chuckability and go-kart like nimbleness, thanks to the DS3’s short wheelbase, wide stance and the tenacious grip of the Michelin tyres.
The well weighted, direct steering let me throw it through roundabouts with nothing more than a flick of the wrist and I simply pointed its nose where I was looking to go round corners with wonderful precision. Keeping my enthusiasm in check are the meaty brakes that deliver a reassuring progressive feel. The ride and handling is a delicious blending of sportiness and comfort, being firm enough to corner flat, while breezing over road blemishes without rattling your fillings loose. I was always entertained and engaged by the sweet chassis of the DS3 Sport.
The DS3 Sport’s 1.6 litre turbo four punches 115 kilowatts and 240 newton metres and although that doesn’t look much on paper, it’s a flyweight, tipping the scales at just 1165kgs, resulting in far greater performance than the figures suggest. It blasts a sweet note from its twin exhausts and enjoys a good rev. I also relished its linear power delivery from 2,000rpm all the way to the redline. I did my best to play between those two parameters on some back roads and savoured its tractability, with its sublime chassis chiming in to add more driving enjoyment.
The six-speed manual transmission is a treat to use. It is light in action with short direct shifts from gear to gear, but the pedals are not ideally placed for my size 10’s to brake and blip the throttle on downshifts.
Citroen have lavished plenty of gear into the DS3 Sport with sat nav, Bluetooth, USB, MP3 connectivity, a trip computer, powerful six speaker audio with RDS stereo radio, cruise control auto digital aircon and even a scented air freshener. And if you want to personalise your DS3 Sport, you can choose your own roof graphics with matching floor mats, or add a little extra chrome.
The DS3 Sport is fitted with a comprehensive range of safety features like traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags, meaning it scores the maximum five star safety rating.
Backing its looks, spec, safety and on-road prowess is six the years of unlimited kilometre warranty, capped price servicing and roadside assistance.
Maybe I should have declared it earlier, but I love the iconic Citroen 2CV, its charisma is endless and although the only similarity is the badge, I found the $33,990 (+ORC), three-door, Citroen DS3 Sport an equally charismatic proposition. Go and have a drive and be charmed.