CUSTOMISATION is the new chic, if Citroën’s DS3 is anything to go by. From a choice of zebra-stripe roofing to polka-dot floor mats the three door hatchback matches class with personality to attract boy racers and young professional madams alike.
A relaunch of the 1955 DS series, the DS3 is an attempt to call on the power of its past appeal despite an "anti-retro" label given to it from Citroën in a series of TV adverts.
From a distance the French-made car looks like a cross between a Mini cooper and a Fiat but once on the road it certainly gives both a run for their money. I feel as if I am stepping into a space shuttle after turning on the engine as an orange hue from the dashboard, complete with CD player, radio and mp3 compatibility fights for my attention from the view outside the windscreen. Electronically adjustable wing view mirrors and a L.E.D. boast a sporty, sleek character.
Every movement of the DS3 exuberates a relaxed, smooth flair as I sit back on the body-hugging leather seat, while comprehensive sound damping ensures little exterior sound filters through to the cockpit.
Admittedly, it may not be an Aston-Martin but the DS3 is deceptively smooth. On the tarmac the nippy DS3 accelerates with little effort and a smooth gear transition, with a boost to help with that extra push needed to sneak in an opening in fast-moving traffic. With a top speed of 133mph and 0 - 60 in little more than seven seconds it ticks all the boxes for city driving. My co-driver tells me it is especially popular among young professionals and especially young women, and with up to 38 custom combinations drivers can make the car truly theirs.
On the downside, while one might expect the DS3 to give a feeling of power on the road, the driving position is too low to give a feeling of superiority and it would certainly prove difficult to accommodate three passengers in the backseat. Instead of practicality and spaciousness drivers of the DS3 will have to settle for a smooth ride, style and sleekness.
For its class the DS3 fares well against the more expensive Mini Cooper. Priced between £11,700 and £15,900 for the top-of-the-range models this diesel engine powerhouse can certainly pack a punch for its size and is one of many reasons why it was named as Top Gear’s favourite small car last year.
If it's city driving, bragging rights and a smooth ride you're after the DS3 delivers on all accounts.
Special thanks to Blake Jones at Citroën distributor Evans Halshaw on Hadfield Road in Cardiff.