I’VE been the laughing stock of some sections of the UK motoring press for some time now. The hair, the clothes, the accent, the badly-written rambling intros to my car reviews – all have played their part. But the real fuel to the fire has been my answer to the inevitable car-types-mingling-at-the-drinks-reception question: “So, what are you driving these days?”
or the last year, my answer has been “a 12-year-old Suzuki Ignis” and, before I can begin to make any sort of justification, the questioner has either wandered off under the impression he has accidentally been talking to a bartender or has guffawed before continuing to tell anyone who will listen about his Morgan Plus 4 restoration.
I never get the chance to tell them that the wee Ignis only cost £900, is a zippy little fellow at the traffic lights, is about the size of a pencil sharpener so is easy to park in town, has bags of character and – most importantly of all – is bright yellow, which my girlfriend insists is a mandatory requirement of any car she drives. Sadly, the other week, an elderly gentleman not fully acquainted with his own faculties reversed into our much-loved Ignis, putting a small dent in the front bumper, thus rendering the whole car a write-off.
The search for a new dinky little city runaround with bags of character, zip and yellowness was just beginning when this, the Citroen DS3, arrived at Scotsman Towers for a three-month stay. It’s got bags of character, zip and has a yellowness factor of ten.
Long-term road tests allow a more in-depth study of a car’s behaviour and personality. It’s like a long-term relationship rather than a dinner date. Cute little idiosyncrasies can bloom into full-blown maddening annoyances over three months, while apparent flaws and instant turn-offs can be forgiven or even loved. Over the next three months, we’ll be seeing how the DS3 fares in the city on the rat-run to the office, on the open road, on trips to Lidl and Ikea and all sorts of other day-to-day drudgery.
Launched in 2010, the DS3 was Citroen’s foray into the stylish supermini segment occupied by the likes of the Mini, Audi A1, Fiat 500 and this week’s cover star, the Alfa Romeo Mito.
The DS3 we’ve been sent is the DSport THP 155 Six-speed manual. Basic cost is £18,570 but with our bright yellow metalic paint (£495) and Citroen’s eMyWay satnav and hifi system (£800) lumped in, it comes in at £19,865. That rather pricey yellow paint job is complemented by a bright white roof and some striking 17-inch white alloy wheels, the bold and brashy look further enhanced by a playful smear of shiny stuff along the side and running lights studded into the front corners like so much Swarovski. This is not a car for use in an incognito stake-out.
Our engine is a 1.6-litre petrol turbo, which generates 155bhp and 240Nm of torque. All that will get you from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and if you wanted to lose your licence, all the way up to 133mph. Citroen reckons 34.4mpg can be squeezed out of the engine, which isn’t much better than a clapped-out 12-year-old Suziki Ignis. In fact, on paper, it’s worse. We’ll be keeping an eye on the fuel tank over the next three months and report back on the real-world impact on the pocket.
So far, our DS3 has mainly been used for the morning commute in Edinburgh and has therefore spent most of its time sitting in long queues of stationary traffic with the engine running – no auto-stop here, which seems a little remiss in a modern city car – and that time has been well used reflecting on the DS3’s stylish interior.
In the coming months, we’ll go into more detail about the serious stuff, but one striking thing it doesn’t take three months to notice is that there doesn’t seem to be a purpose-made cup holder inside – a bewildering omission. Other than that, the interior seems well thought out, the satnav and stereo are intuitive to use and, while some may enjoy the built-in air freshener, I had to dig out the owner’s manual to figure out how to turn it off. Cars should smell of chips and WD40, not lilacs.
Spurious they may be, but those are our first impressions. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting the DS3 through its paces to see if it’s worth buying one of these or 20 12-year-old Suzuki Ignises. Stay tuned.
ENGINE 4cyls, 1598cc, petrol
PERFORMANCE Max speed 133mph; 0-62mph 9.3s
CO2 EMISSIONS 135g/km