Driven: 2017 DS3 Performance Review
I had the chance to test out the 2017 DS3 Performance, and here are my thoughts on it.
What is the 2017 DS3 Performance all About?
It is worth noting that the 2017 DS3 is sold under a completely different brand from previous years. You used to know it as a Citroen, but now, DS Automobiles is a luxury brand in its own right.
Although DS cars do share and use parts developed by the PSA division, Citroen is particularly keen on insisting the fact that the DS cars are manufactured on completely separate engineering and quality standards. Hopefully, this will show in cars they make in the future, as the DS brand do produce some rather interesting cars. One such example is the DS3.
During its launch in 2010, the DS3 was very successful as a hot supermini. In fact, it single-handedly prompted Citroen to launch their DS subdivision as a standalone company.
After the initial launch, the DS3 continued to get minor updates as an attempt to keep it fresh and relevant in the current market. Throughout the years, there have been multiple iterations of the DS3, such as the hotter DS3 Racing and DS3 Cabriolet.
Today, we’re taking a look at the DS3 Performance. It’s a blunter DS3 Racing, with the knob turned down a bit. Nonetheless, to compensate, DS has decided to give it some new differentials, along with a new petrol engine and many other racing inspired tidbits.
On the outside, there are some subtle clues to differentiate the Performance edition from the normal DS3, such as the nice and beefy 18-inch alloys named ‘Black Nemesis’, striking.
Our 2017 DS3 Performance is more understated given the amount of colour options you can opt for in one of these. Perla Nera Black, with a black roof. There are many other spicier combinations you can go for, but if you wish to blend in a little bit more, this is not a bad choice.
Although I don’t particularly favour the chrome trimmings around the body of the car, it does give it a bit of style that DS always emphasises on their cars.
Other than that, there’s little else to tell that the DS3 Performance is a bit more special than the others, kind of like how BMW goes about with their M cars. However, all of that really doesn’t matter in contrast to what DS has done under the bonnet. They have stuffed a racy, 1.6-litre direct injected turbocharged inline-4 that puts out a really strong 210 hp and 300 Nm of torque.
They’ve mated a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission to the 4-cylinder turbo engine, spinning a limited-slip differential to the front wheels. All of this comes into tandem as the DS3 Performance will complete 0-60 MPH run in just 6.5 seconds, onto a top speed of 143 MPH.
This engine is looking good for DS, as it manages 131.25 hp/litre, a strong figure period. Furthermore, it returns 52.3 MPG combined and puts out just 125g/km of CO2, thanks to the migration to turbo power no less.
How Does The DS3 Performance Drive?
From the specs, the DS3 Performance looks like a strong contender in the current hot hatchback market. Although, if DS wish to make another breakthrough, they really have to step up their game.
Fortunately, it looks like DS has borrowed some elements from its PSA cousin, Peugeot, as the specs do make it quite similar to the 208 GTi. It is by no means a bad thing, as the 308 GTi is a very well regarded hot supermini.
It is worth noting that in addition to the LSD and new engine, DS has also lowered the car and revised the suspension setup to better suit spirited driving. DS says that they made the DS3 Performance more like an ‘everyday’ car compared to the nippy 208 GTi.
This engine, as expected, deserves high praise. While fitted with a turbo, the throttle response is stupendous. The majority of the torque comes on at around the midrange, so just by rolling into it, the DS3 can whiz past most cars on the motorway.
However, you might not want to spend your time on the motorway in the DS3, as it has a shorter gearing compared to the standard DS3. This means that at motorway speeds, you might start to discover the lack of refinement in the DS3 Performance.
Sadly, the cabin isn’t too quiet, and the suspension really isn’t that soft. Bumps and crevasses will be your worst enemies in the DS3 Performance no doubt.
Really, who cares? The 2017 DS3 Performance, with its Michelin Supersports provides spades of grip. The beefy Brembos allow the DS3 Performance to stop on a dime. However, sometimes it is a bit too beefy, and it becomes hard to apply smooth braking to prevent lockups, or the shuddering when ABS kicks in.
Paired with the rapid pace that the DS3 Performance encourages and a short ratio gearbox, you’ve got one hell of a B-road machine. It can be really fast with the right driver, and turning into the corners you can certainly appreciate the addition of LSD. The steering is quick too and very relaxing to drive with on urban streets.
The chassis, while developed to do pretty much everything, is actually quite rigid. I can hardly notice much body roll at all, if any, and most of the time, the car remains flat throughout the corners. The DS3 Performance feels properly fast.
What’s it Like Inside?
The interior of the DS3 Performance remains largely the same as the standard DS3. Nevertheless, there are some minor styling cues sprinkled in to complement the Performance’s sporting ambitions.
One of the welcome additions over the standard DS3 are the Alcantara bucket seats borrowed from the 208 GTi with ‘DS Performance’ stitched onto it. It hugs you very nicely while you slingshot around corners, but it may prove difficult to enter for some.
Other than the minor sporty endeavors such as the glossy trims, the DS3 Performance’s interior remains largely the same as the standard DS3.
The center console and dashboard can be personalised to suit your own style. There’s even a completely glossy gold trim piece available, although that is a bit much for my taste.
Fortunately, I love what DS have done with the controls. Compared to many other contemporary cars, it is very simple. Most of the controls are handled by the 7 inch touchscreen in the middle, and the gear lever is great to hold and throw around.
However, being a supermini, the DS3 Performance loses out on practicality. It’s a coupe, and the rear seats are a bit of a squeeze. The load volume is so-so, at 285 litres.
I was one of the few to have experienced the very limited production DS3 Racing. And really, in many ways, the DS3 Performance feels very similar to that car. Sometimes, it even feels faster, thanks to the great little new engine DS has put in that gives it more torque than the DS3 Racing.
The implementation of a LSD provides that much more driver confidence that’ll certainly be appreciated. It’s an agile offering to the DS3, and it has loads of style. I could only imagine if DS went with a more driver focused DS3 with less weight, although that defeats the purpose of DS’s ethos with the DS3 Performance.
Verdict On The 2017 DS3 Performance
DS might be onto something here with the introduction of the 2017 DS3 Performance. However, they have one big rival, and that is its sister, the Peugeot 208 GTi. Another brilliant, very well received hot supermini.
It’ll be a tough fight, even though DS insist that the DS3 Performance is a more mature, fermented alternative. For me though, the choice would be the DS just on the looks. In matte black, you can tell that the DS3 Performance is a sinister ego to the 208 GTi.
Regardless, the DS3 Performance is an option for the DS3 that’ll offer a thrilling ride to its owner. It’s absolutely rapid, and bar a few niggles, one of the best hot superminis you can go for out there.
DS3 Performance Video Highlights
DS3 Performance Spec
- Price: £22,900
- Engine: 1.6-Litre turbocharged
- Power: 210 hp
- Torque: 300 Nm
- Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
- 0-62mph: 6.5 Seconds
- Top speed: 143 mph
- Weight: 1,175 kg
- Economy combined: 52 mpg
- CO2: 125 g/km
Author: Paul Hadley