★★★ | Citroen DS3 Performance

I don’t feel cheated by this car. The Citroen DS 3 Performance is all the name suggests. It has it in abundance.

To the trained eye and fact finding motor buff you might be thinking this is a re-bodied Peugeot 208 GTi Sport. You will in fact be correct in thinking this. However Citroen have tweaked it a little to suit its customers preferences. These included a change in spring rates that make it feel a little softer. If truth be told there is a bit more fluidity in how it rides on the road compared to the manic 208.

Now here comes the surprise. For me THEGAYUK tested the DS cabrio in 2016. I wasn’t complimentary about it in all areas. One thing I did mention was the ride. It wasn’t as good as the now replaced C3 yet in this hard as nails street racer I can live with it. It fills a void that the normal DS3 missed perhaps because this is a somewhat different car.

The handling is taught. The traction is amazing. Even on really wet roads it holds on like I have never known anything to do so. One very wet roundabout was tackled with spirit and it held the line I pointed it in. The torsen differential is an amazing bit of kit. Added to the wide 18” alloy wheels and it all adds up to one sticky road slug. It won’t let you down. Just watch out for the curbs. The smart Nemesis lightweight alloys have a protruding lip.

What helped the feeling of ultimate security in fast cornering was a set of body hugging bucket seats. From the outside they don’t look welcoming at all in their black cloth covering. Sit in and you are very much placed in control. It’s all very easy to get set up comfortably and you’ll need it. The interior is very dark. It did feel like I was stepping into the depths of hell. Not such a bad thing knowing how hellishly fast this DS3 could be.

Unlike its Peugeot 208 sibling, there were things I didn’t notice. The exhaust boom was gone and the throw of the gear lever didn’t feel as long. The DS Performance felt much more fluid in its behaviour. Even in dense city bumper to bumper traffic it felt quite at home in.

Out on the open road the engine of a modest 1598 cubic centilitres wrings out a very useful 208bhp at a 6000rpm. 221 Ib.ft of torque is at a lowly 3000rpm giving you almost 4000rpm to play with in ripping up the asphalt in the 0-60mph sprint of 6.5 seconds. The 6 speed gearbox makes rapid climbs through the rising speed easy. Sometimes too easy and the rapid climb is sometimes abruptly halted by the rev limiter thankfully there to prevent you throwing a piston through the bonnet. It happens all too quickly and yet sneakily. It’s not a power pack that makes you abundantly aware of what it’s doing because it’s so smooth.

Stopping the rapid Avantgarde delight is a beautiful all discs Brembo braking system. Stupid hard application of these plus the wide wheels and torsen differential make it all to easy to get carried away. Even mid cornering when you think you might just have bitten off more than you can handle will see you safely out the other side unless you really are stupid. More likely will be the rear end letting you know first. It’s nice to know it has a few surprises. It does though feel less of a handful with the different spring rates compared to the 208 GTi sport.

The DS Performance is an easy car to live with. In someways I wanted it to be a little more raw. Despite its bright yellow exterior paint and black wheel arch extensions, it was subdued to those outside of the car. In someways it looked like a normal DS3 with some options added. It’s I suppose my place to say if that is a good thing or not because it is ultimately up to you to decide if you want your rapid hatchback to be discreet without external bells and whistles.

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I can recommend the DS 3 Performance. For my money I’d buy the convertible. A little less rigid I’ll grant you but I can’t think of a faster and affordable way of getting wind in the hair this side of wing walking on a Cessna aircraft. And you can’t do that every time you want to pop to the shops.

Likes

Price
Easy to live with
Available with a soft top

Loathes

Alloy wheel lip exposed to curbing
The DS3 looks are getting old
Very dark interior

The Lowdown
Car – DS 2 Performance
Price – £ £23,355 (as tested)
MPG – 52.3mpg (combined)
Power – 208 bhp 6000 rpm
0-62mph – 6.5 seconds
Top Speed – 143 mph
Co2 – 125 (g/km)