Despite launching as recently as 2009, the DS3 (pronounced déese) already has a foot hold in the fiercely competitive compact ‘supermini’ car market. Citroën have sold over 100,000 of them, no mean feat considering the current financial instability.
Poised as a serious competitor to the new Mini and the Fiat 500, the 5 speed manual HDi 90 model we tested was a special (one of only 500) limited edition version of the DS3 produced in association with Irish fashion designer Orla Kiely (someone usually known for her hats and handbags).
The car is a regular DS3 under the bonnet but has limited edition styling and features inside and out. Ours was ‘Polar white’ with orange wing mirrors, which when you are sat in the drivers seat made you think the whole car was orange. Great on the French Riviera, but slightly less glamorous stuck in traffic on a wet weekend in West Bromwich.
As Range Rover have shown with the new Evoque (the interior was designed in conjunction with Victoria Beckham), a creative outsiders perspective can sometimes breathe fresh life into car design.
The Orla Kiely version has some funky coloured headrests and ‘sensuous Mistral Claudia leather seats’ that are REALLY comfy, and you sink into them like you would an old armchair.
Kiely’s acorn motif is prevalent throughout, and like the Fiat 500 the dashboard has a cool, slightly retro feel to it. I was a bit disappointed with the Radio / CD interface, which was fiddly to get to grips with and not as intuitive as many others (albeit more expensive) I have tested. The speakers weren’t especially great either and I would have expected a bit more oomph, it does however have useful bluetooth / aux socket / USB connection capabilities.
A touch-screen all singing, all dancing control centre would have been a nice addition, but overall the interior finish is of a very high standard, right down to the stitch detailing and floor mats.
There is space for 5 people, but if you’re like me and over 6ft the drivers seat will severely limited leg room in the back, making it more practical for 2 or 3 on longer journeys.
On the outside (Orla Kiely extras aside) Citroën have succeeded in giving the car its own personality. It’s modern without being bland, and it cuts a sophisticated eye catching figure on the road. There are interesting contours on every side and I especially like the LED lights and the rear windows. The DS3 is a definitely a car that looks proud of itself.
On the OC edition a choice of roof designs featuring the acorn motif are available together with tinted rear windows complete with stencilled pattern (and a cool badge too).
The DS3 drives very well without excelling or failing in any one area, making it a great all round car for everyday use. There is a small amount of body roll into corners at higher speeds, but overall the ride while firm is good both on the motorway AND on the potholed streets of your town.
The 1.6 litre engine has a top speed of 112mph and while you might not always be the first one away at the lights (with a 0-62mph (100km) time of 11.3 seconds), the gearbox has a fluidity to it and there is more than enough acceleration in 2nd and 3rd gears to make overtaking a confident option in the right circumstances.
With a combined figure of 68.9 mpg the car is also exceptionally good on diesel (Urban 57.6 and Extra-Urban 78.5mpg respectively).
Emissions are just over the 100g/km threshold (at 107g/km), so you would still have to pay the congestion charge in London, but that figure is very low and your tax will be next to nothing. Not too mention the good it will do to your ‘green’ credentials.
It won Top Gear’s ‘Small Car of the Year’ AND ‘Car of the Year’ awards in 2010, and I like the fact that although it shows some similarities to the C3 it feels like a ‘new’ car and has hit the ground running.
The Citroën DB3 Orla Kiely limited edition features are quirky, and they inject a bit of fun into an already excellent car. Whether they are worth the extra money probably depends on your income and personal taste.
Being the manly male I am, I’d go for the testosterone fuelled DS3 Racing model, but it should be noted that ALL of my female friends made admiring comments about the Orla Kiely version, so it ticked the right boxes for them.
The Citroën DS3 Orla Kiely limited edition is £16,100 on the road.
For more info visit www.citroen.co.uk