(Pocket-lint) - We'll be honest, we love the DS3. It does have its foibles, but as a complete three-door hatchback package, it is up there with the best. Right now it sits in between the Fiat 500 and the Mini in terms of price, offering just as much fun as each, a strong engine and good interior build.
With the DS3 155 Red, Citroen hopes to sway potential buyers in its direction by bundling options that you would normally pick under one cheaper price. The car also gets a new look red and black exterior, which we think makes for the best-looking DS3 yet. In fact, of all the DS3 offerings available right now, we think this is the one to go for. Read on to find out why.
From the outside the DS3 155 Red looks fantastic. Citroen has used the red and black motif throughout the car's paint scheme to tie the exterior looks of whole thing together. Little touches of red, be it the front grille, roof or even the alloy wheels, result in a slightly more understated DS3, without the bright purples or whites of some of the other models.
Those front LED daytime running lights are as good looking as ever. Disappointingly they don't appear to stay on when you switch on the car's headlights. Spotting the DS3 in a reflection while driving along, LEDs in full show, definitely makes you feel good about what you are driving.
We will say that the slightly extravagant looks of the DS3 might not age so well. What you will find however is that the special-edition feel of the Red 155 should keep it a head turner for a good few years to come.
Compared to the Mini, the Citroen has a lot more presence on the road. Its looks might not be to everyone's taste, but it certainly makes a statement. Unlike other DS3s, the Red edition just appears more "premium" from the outside. Replacing a lot of the chrome with gloss red has really upped the stakes when it comes to the car's exterior.
Those red touches you see on the outside continue throughout the DS3's interior. On the front dash is a big gloss red strip, with two red frames around the door handles. It works, really well. The Fiat 500 does something similar with its colour-matched dash, but unlike Fiat's offering, the gloss red here looks a lot less cheap.
We particularly like the way the DS3's dash works. At first, its futuristic looks can be slightly confusing but after a while the layout makes perfect sense. Having the fuel gauge, gear shift indicator and mileage in a digital display is nice, while the big bright speedometer is easy to read.
A lot of the other driving details are handled by the DS3's stereo display which is slightly confusing. If you don't opt for satnav as an option, things like range and fuel economy are shown on the LCD stereo screen. This display also handles the radio and iPhone connectivity, resulting in it all getting a bit cluttered. Citroen could benefit from streamlining driving data and bringing it all to the dash, while keeping entertainment to the stereo.
The DS3's rear seats have just about enough leg room, although the 6ft-plus brigade might not enjoy long journeys in the back too much. As for the front seats, they are fantastic. A nice amount of side bolstering with an excellent headrest result in a really comfortable ride. We had no trouble adjusting things to our liking either.
Build quality on the interior is excellent. We mentioned in our DS3 cabriolet review that Citroen did a good job hiding cheap-feeling plastic and money saving measures. With the Red edition, things are even more apparent. The all black and red interior outdoes most of the competition for build, even approaching VW levels of quality.
The DS3 155 Red is a fun car to drive with the 1.6 litre 4 cylinder petrol DSport engine being a real strong point for the car. It pulls the DS3 up to 62mph in 7.3 seconds, which is fairly rapid, although not quite up there with the quickest of the hot hatches. The engine does like to be revved and has a particularly long first gear, which is a joy when cruising in slow moving city traffic.
What we like is the overall driving feel the DS3 gives. The outlandish interior is matched with light steering, good brakes and gear shift and a high revving engine. The result is a car which you can throw about through city back streets, or zip about the B-roads. Don't expect a huge amount of feedback from the wheel however, so no crazy hot hatch driving or you will end up in a ditch.
Visibility and manoeuvrability in the DS3 is also great. It rivals even that of the Fiat 500, which is the king of city cars right now. If you are after something a bit bigger to cruise about town in, then the DS3 is definitely a good choice. If you want a three door for fun in the countryside, then the Mini will give you a much more engaged driving experience.
The DS3 creates certain types of moments which only a car which looks like this can create. It is a wonderful car to walk over to and unlock for example, particularly in a busy street. Those daytime LED lights will make people stare - which some will find a selling point. For good or for bad, the DS3 red will certainly get you attention, it just depends if you want it.
We found fuel economy good, provided we didn't bash the engine too hard. On the motorway that sixth gear also does a good job keeping things efficient. Just a note on motorway driving as well: the DS3 isn't hugely noisy, but ours did develop an irritating squeak from the air vents which we couldn't put a stop to. While we can't say the same applies to all DS3s, listen out for any noises which might drive you nuts before you commit to a purchase.
There's a lot to like here, and price-wise, it's not a bad deal either. The bundled hi-fi upgrade, aircon, parking sensors and auto lights with the £17,780 Red version we road tested are a lot of the options you would normally go for anyway, so in this sense it strikes us as the car to go for. Spec-up a normal DS3 to this DSport trim and you would spend an extra £420. Its looks also separate it from the rest of the range, giving it a special edition feel and we imagine, helping it hold its value a touch better. Think of it like the Chilli Pack with the Mini, which also boosts residual values.
If you are up for trying something a little more outlandish and like the way the DS3 looks, we say give it a test drive. The engine is just sporty enough to give you some fun, while dimensions and efficiency make the car a great daily driver. Citroen needs to try a bit harder with its management of in-car entertainment, although the sound system is excellent, but that aside the car is very good indeed. The DS3 155 Red is definitely worth a look if you fancy adding a bit of colour to your driving