My latest test car did raise a few questions as to what exactly it was. Badged DS3, it certainly came over to most as yet another Citroen; well not really so. DS is the premium car marque part of Groupe PSA and it was first announced at the beginning of 2009 by Citroen as a premium sub-brand applied to certain of its models, running in parallel with its mainstream brand.
DS can be an abbreviation of Different Spirit or Distinctive Series; however the reference to the historical Citroen DS is evident. The name is also a play on words, as in French it is pronounced like the word deesse meaning goddess and the DS has been a stand alone brand since 2015, even earlier in China, in that country they tend to favour cars which are upmarket. Certainly, whether you are or are not a fan of Citroen, the DS does offer something that little bit different and the DS3 is currently the gateway to the brand. The DS3 is built on Groupe PSA’s all-new Common Modular Platform (CMP); this opens new horizons in both technology and styling. Described by the manufacturer as a city car or one for long distance drives it does, as I discovered, deliver a rewarding drive and you have the added satisfaction of being behind the wheel of something just that little bit different.
Like so many of the crop of new cars on our roads, the DS3 majors quite a lot on technology and for example, on certain variants you get such as DS MATRIX LED VISION headlights. Of course, being a cousin of the Citroen brand, we can expect little surprises such as flush door handles that deploy automatically. At first, I wondered if these handles would neatly pop back in, which they did in a matter of seconds. A small detail yes, but one that in a way, makes this compact hatchback stand out. When you get onboard, you are welcomed by a full digital driving display, again a feature which is becoming virtually standard on the modern car. All of the avant-garde features go hand in hand with a sense of refined comfort, a rich array of safety equipment and driver assistance functions, and unequalled acoustic excellence.
There is an air of elegance with the DS 3 and by the way the manufacturer terms it as a crossback, I see it rather as a hatchback. What is in a name though, it’s how the car functions and delivers that is important. This vehicle is for all those looking for a car with instant appeal that is stylish, high-tech, comfortable and dynamic. The DS is of moderate dimensions being around 4.12 metres in length, this along with a raised ride height and large alloys, gives it a rather chunky, but well proportioned exterior and head on a large very distinctive grille, you will certainly recognise this car on approach. Moving to the interior and no surprises in this department and the finish can be described as luxury and different from its fellow competitors and for all who travel, comfort levels are most acceptable. Depending on the market, a number of trim levels are offered, this time I found myself with a Prestige with its 17 inch Madrid alloys and a reasonable array of standard items which include front/rear parking sensors and rear 3D lights. Behind the wheel, the Puretech 130 petrol engine with 131bhp on tap delivered lively performance and matched to an automatic transmission, was altogether satisfying. Of course, there are other power choices including diesel and it’s worth noting that DS offer electric and plug-in versions. Away from the road and those with motorsport in mind will be aware of the DS name in Formula E.