Citroen DS3: One Of The Best European Hatchbacks Also Has No Cupholders

Nowadays we have the SUV, sedan, hatchback, truck, and minivan as the main categories of car, but you can add to that list the convertible and supercar too. It’s impossible though to make an exhaustive list here as some cars are subjective and cross over into another category, but with hatchbacks, we have a pretty good idea of what makes one. Relatively small footprint, usually small and nimble and good for short trips and commutes in and around the city or towns and suburbs.

Of the mainstays in Europe like the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, and Citroen C3, Ford Fiesta/Focus, and Volkswagen Golf. You can also add to that the Toyota Corolla, new Yaris, and of course the BMW 1-series. There are many more besides, but you get the idea.


A Car In The Citroen DS’s Image

Via: topgear
Via: topgear

Citroen, one of the French kings (or queens) of the affordable-yet-fun hatchback decided to revive the DS name for a new line of slightly spruced-up versions of the standard cars.

DS alludes to the deesse name which means goddess and was used for the famous and much-loved Citroen DS from the 50s to the 70s and is supposed to conjure up luxury and innovation in the imagination. The first car in the DS line, which lasted for almost a decade was arguably the best execution to date of this sub-brand and spawned a hot hatch well worth knowing about. Citroen are well known for and perhaps synonymous with elegant and quirky design, it is a company that has historically eyed the premium end of the market and tried a few times to align its products in a more up-market sector – don’t forget the Maserati-engined Citroen SM.

Citroen DS3 Was Not Your Average Hatchback

via : rallyaustralia

Not all hatches are born equal, with varying price points abilities and remits, but Citroen with the DS arguably wanted to create a new sub-brand for a younger and more discerning clientele while launching a new brand that might help compete in the virtual area where Volkswagen and BMW reside.

The common or garden Citroen C3 was and is still a great city car in its own right – but it’s not an overly sporty or desirable hatchback. In 2009 the Citroen DS emerged bringing different colored roof and body combinations along with colored wing mirror casings and an unusual rear window/B-pillar arrangement.

Sporty alloy wheels up to 17 inches and a stainless-steel exhaust pipe helped it look a little like a rally car – in a similar way to the Citroen C2 when it emerged years earlier. It looked interesting and different.

Short, stubby but also elegant, the DS3 had a choice of engines varying from naturally aspirated petrol engines and turbo-petrol engines to strong diesels. Sure it wasn’t and isn’t as rapid as a Golf GTI, or as universally appealing and solid feeling as a similar German hot-hatch, but it was offering something less bland and more refreshing, like a Mini Cooper S. A highlight was the 207 and 210hp turbo petrols but even the eventual 120hp / 210lb-ft diesel engine would provide chunky torque to make progress effortless and offer up a useful 60mpg economy – though much more was possible with this 1.6-liter engine if you were a good hyper miller.

Handling was good for a front-wheel-driver with a French focus on comfort, with a nicely formed chunky steering wheel providing not much feel through the electrical assistance but the car was abundant in throw-ability.

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The DS3 Is A Hot-Hot Hatch

Via: themirror
Via: themirror

From 2011 onwards, there was a Citroen DS3 rally car – imaginatively named the Citroen DS3 WRC, a 2600lb rally car based on the road model albeit with 4-wheel drive, up to 300hp and uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engined-variant of one of the road car’s engines.

Wikipedia puts its racing success at 26 wins and 6 titles with the (relatively) famous Sebastien Loeb putting in a strong effort and taking home most of those wins, although there were other drivers too such as Sebastien Ogier, Kris Meeke, and Mikko Virvonen. In the end, the DS3 racing arrived as the road-going and slightly tamer car which could still bring the fight to the Renault Clio RS, Mini Cooper S, and Peugeot 208 GTI. With 207hp the DS3 racing was reasonably well-endowed with power and could make a 6.5-second dash to 60mph and onto just under 150mph and came in two different funky paint schemes.

For comparison – the Mini Cooper S from 2010 took 7 seconds to reach 60mph, went 5mph slower flat-out, and had around 25 less horsepower so the posh Citroen was more in line with the Renault Clio RS and its 200, even if that car’s chassis set up dynamics were superior to the other two.

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The Citroen DS3’s Quirky Interior

Via: espirituracer
Via: espirituracer

As an everyday car, the DS3 was less practical than the normal C3 city car, it had a small trunk with no ability to fold the seats flat to make a long continuous load bay, the rear seats were accessible by moving the front ones forward and once at the back, the fixed windows made it claustrophobic.

It was mainly focused on allowing the driver and front passenger to enjoy a modern and -premium-feeling cabin with quality materials, interesting design touches, and some great seats. Why they felt the need to skip cupholders will forever remain a mystery as this was a modern car for modern, busy people who wanted to enjoy their up-market Citroen while sipping a skinny latte and listening to podcasts. Sadly, the DS3 was discontinued around 2019, it would, like other quirky French cars like the Peugeot RCZ, eventually have to make way for more lucrative models like crossovers and new EV platforms.

There is still a bigger brother in the DS catalog in Europe, the DS4 which is a hatchback crossover, but it doesn’t share the same soul as the DS3, even if it is a lot more practical and sales-friendly.

For its faults as a practical hatchback, the DS3 arguably excelled in what it was built for, a quirky, sporty, premium alternative to the usual suspects and if you could forget the badge for just a second and imagine a name resembling something more exotic like Alfa Romeo, give it a rear-ward driveshaft for 4-wheel drive, it would make even more sense as a sports car. For now, let’s see if DS makes the jump across the Atlantic to the US where it might convince people wanting that Fiat 500 or Mini customizability with a little bit of added va-va-voom.

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Related TopicsAbout The AuthorDavid O’Callaghan (66 Articles Published)

Hailing from Britain, the home of both MG and Aston Martin, Dave is no stranger to sports cars.

Or a little rain.

When he’s not busy working his day-job or writing songs and pretending to be a musician; Dave indulges his obsession with cars by writing and researching diligently, so that he can inform and convert other people to the dark side.

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