IT’S MONTH two of our long-term test of the Citroen DS3 DSport, and while that distinctive bright yellow paint job has been dulled a little by the mud, grime and salt spray of a Scottish winter, the likeable features of this squat little car have managed to shine through the dirt.
Over the past few weeks, it’s been to Dundee, spent a Sunday morning pootling about Broughty Ferry, above, ferried loved ones and a bootful of Christmas presents around central Scotland and weaved its merry way round Edinburgh on the morning rat run. On these journeys, the DS3’s good points have come to the fore, while some initial reservations have faded into the background. Some, but not all – a couple of coffee-related scaldings later, the absence of cupholders literally remains a sore point.
I keep having to double check to make sure it’s not an oversight on my part, and am half expecting that one day I’ll inadvertently lean on some concealed button or lever somewhere and the cupholders will swivel into view, all covered in cobwebs, like a concealed doorway behind a swivelling bookcase in a Scooby Doo cartoon. No luck so far.
That aside, though, the interior of the DS3 has proved to be a rather nice place to be. Just like the exterior, the cabin has a chunky, rounded well-built feel to it, with the brushed metalwork on the steering wheel, gearknob, pedals and round the instruments adding no small amount of style to that substance.
A few weeks into the test period, I finally got round to linking the car to my phone by Bluetooth. This was a lot easier than expected, and now, when I get into the car, it automatically connects to the phone without me doing anything – this is by no means unique these days, but at the same time, some more expensive cars don’t offer this function and I for one think it’s a fantastic feature – especially given the fact I can instantly play music from my phone through the car’s excellent sound system, and not have to listen to the guff served up on commercial radio these days.
The Christmas period brought the opportunity to cram the DS3 full of presents and relatives, and – as I ducked out of designated driver duty – a chance to size up the rear seats. It’s a three-door so you have to move the front seats forward to get into the back. The lever you need to pull to do this seems unnecessarily stiff, although maybe it’s deliberately like that because the front seats snap forward like a bear trap – you wouldn’t want a passenger inadvertently springing them forward while you’re in the driver’s seat or you might end up with the steering wheel’s Citroen logo embossed on your forehead.
With two adults in the back, legroom is adequate. When a third person joins the party, things get a little cramped. The person in the middle has to straddle the raised central section of flooring, andI found head and shoulder room to be a little tight once I’d squished over to one side to make room for our third man in the back.
While the suspension is stiff and sporty, which isn’t always ideal in the city on potholes and cobbles, the squat, muscular stance of the DS3 on the road makes for a pleasingly secure and grounded ride.
On the motorway, that 1.6-litre engine offers plenty of oomph for overtaking, and although there is a bit of road and wind noise, the feeling that this is a sturdy, well-built car is borne out by a complete absence of rattling or buzzing at the speed limit.
The presence of a cruise control system adds to the DS3’s versatility, and, combined with the firm but comfortable seats, made a 60-mile jaunt up to Dundee a far more enjoyable experience than the football match at the end of it.
One thing a long-term test offers which just a few days can’t is the increased statistical probability of encountering a complete idiot on the road and having a chance to properly test the car’s braking. And so it was one January morning on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk, when a car jumped a red and cut across me without warning. Despite the greasy, potholed road surface and me suddenly putting pretty much my full weight on the brake pedal, the DS3 shuddered to an almost instant halt with minimum fuss, the only skidding occurring within the confines of my trousers. The horn – easily activated with a hearty slap to any part of the steering wheel’s hub – works efficiently too, as anyone within half a mile of the incident will testify.
Next month, we’ll take a look at the running costs and practicality of the Citroen DS3 in a little more detail, and we’ll also give the satnav and entertainment system a good going over.
Car Citroen DS3 DSport THP 155 6-Speed
Engine 4cyls, 1,598cc, petrol
Performance Max speed 133mph; 0-62mph 9.3s
CO2 emissions 135g/km