DS3 – a compact SUV that seduces

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The best example of comparison is to think that DS is to Citroën what Lexus is to Toyota.

DS Automobiles is a premium brand of the PSA (Peugeot Citroën) group and offers a range of high-end cars based on the Citroën range.

While enjoying considerable success across Europe, it’s all gone quiet here in Ireland since it launched in 2015, but they’re back!

The best example of comparison is to think that DS is to Citroën what Lexus is to Toyota.

So can they break into the premium market? Well, this is going to be very difficult as buyers of premium brand cars such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi are very loyal and appreciate the image that their cars convey.

Lexus, with all its Toyota backing, has never been able to match the Germans in the sales charts, despite making cars that are just as good and, in some ways, perhaps better.

So, can DS Automobiles break it?
Traveling around Europe it quickly becomes apparent, especially in France, that the DS brand is quite popular, but it may take time to gain the same popularity here.

So, does he have street credibility?
The DS3 is overall an attractive car, but not out of the ordinary.

The chrome door handles that are flush with the body come out electrically when you operate the remote control to open it and it is unique in this category.

Overall design is good, although I’m not so sure about the high door panel line at the leading edge of the rear doors.
Two-tone alloy wheels and slim taillights are a nice touch.

How is it inside?
The interior is covered in an abundance of ‘Bastille’ leather, combined with beautiful diamond shaped aluminum switches, the look and feel is certainly first class.

The elevated driving position is perfect and the digital instrumentation again reflects the styling theme of the interior.
I didn’t particularly like the layout of the digital dashboard, but that’s a personal choice

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The standard kit is also quite comprehensive, although the Prestige model tested lacked satellite navigation.

The graphics on the center-mounted screen look pretty basic by rivals’ standards and it’s a little cumbersome to use.
Layout is good up front, but the rear could be described as comfortable for two adults with particularly compromised legroom. The trunk will hold around 350 liters of luggage or up to 1,050 liters with the seats folded down, which is about average for a car in this category.

What’s under the hood?
Power comes from a pretty good 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol that produces 130bhp and which, in my test car, was mated to an automatic gearbox.

The driver can use the steering column-mounted paddle shifters to change gears or simply leave it in automatic mode.
Performance is good and it’s a nice, refined power unit. Fuel economy was good for just 5.8 liters per 100 km. The road tax is €210.00.

How is it to drive?
The DS3 is quiet and refined and drives and handles quite well. All in all a nice place for driver and passengers.

Verdict
Prices start at €30,165 for the Elegance model. The Prestige on test cost €38,665.

The new DS range will have to prove itself and it will take quite some time to really establish itself. It is not easy to break into the luxury segment where the attractiveness of badges counts for a lot.

Nevertheless, the DS product appears to be of superior quality. If, as they expect, they have a network of exclusive dealers and can convince those who prefer a premium German brand, maybe it will succeed.

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