DS 3 Prestige

BlueHDi 120

DS3, front
DS3, front
DS3, front
DS3, rear
DS3, interior
DS3, interior
DS3 and DS3 Cabrio

IT may look much the same on the outside and it may feel much the same from behind the wheel - but there is something missing from the 2016 DS 3.

Look closely and you'll notice that the familiar Citroen chevrons are no more. The DS badge now takes centre stage on a new-look grille because, as of January, the DS 3 is no longer a Citroen.

The sporty supermini is the final model to emerge from the sub-brand shadows to join the new stand-alone DS Automobiles stable, following in the footsteps of the DS 4 and DS 5.

The aim is to add more premium appeal to the line-up by shedding the Citroen moniker - and the DS 3 should give the new brand some real impetus.

Since it launched in 2010 it has been the most recognisable and most popular of the DS line models - selling more than 390,000 units worldwide.

And it has proved a big hit in the UK, with more DS3s being bought here last year than anywhere else - even France.

Given that, the PSA Group, which also includes Peugeot, was probably on relatively safe ground with its rebrand here and other changes are understandably subtle.

The shedding of the chevrons obviously means the front end has been tweaked and there are striking LED light arrangements front and rear and new alloys but otherwise the look is familiar and remains distinctive and stylish.

As with its big rival the MINI, the DS 3 relies heavily on personalisation options to allow buyers to express themselves and a wealth of colour choices, two-tone paint jobs, decals and interior trims ensure the permutations remain vast.

Changes elsewhere have brought the infotainment and connectivity systems bang up to date, added a new engine to the range and there is now a high-octane DS 3 Performance model for the boy-racer brigade.

This car was a little more restrained, powered by the manufacturer's established 120ps BlueHDi turbo diesel engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission and incorporating an automatic start and stop system.

With claimed average fuel economy of almost 80 miles per gallon and carbon emissions of just 94g/km, this is obviously a sensible option in terms of keeping running costs down and being friendly to the environment.

But that doesn't mean compromising on the fun, because with the DS 3's compact, lightweight chassis, well-balanced setup and sharp throttle response this combination still provides plenty of zip, either in town or on the open road.

Accurate steering and a snappy gearshift offer the driver plenty of engagement and although it falls slightly short of the MINI's class-leading dynamics there's certainly plenty to smile about here.

Where the DS 3 does trump the MINI is in the space department.

Although rear seat passengers will never be stretching out in any supermini there is sufficient room in the back for a couple of adults to feel comfortable on short trips while the boot, at 285 litres, is much bigger than that of its competitor.

The DS 3's interior has always been of good quality and that is unchanged. The Prestige trim car sits just below the range-topping spec and boasted a gloss black centre console housing an intuitive seven-inch touchscreen and clear and easy-to-use controls for the aircon and heater.

There were also plenty of soft-touch materials and an abundance of leather and chrome trim at this grade - all giving the DS 3 the sort of upmarket feel that its new brand aspires to.

Satnav, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, tinted rear windows, heated, electric folding wing mirrors, a collision mitigation braking system and stability control are all included in a generous package of comfort, convenience and safety kit.

Full leather upholstery, an upgraded infotainment system with mobile phone screen mirroring and a reversing camera were among the optional extras that gave my car a real luxury feel⦠but also added £2,000 to the purchase price.

FAST FACTS

DS 3 Prestige BlueHDi 120

Price: £19,495

Mechanical:120ps, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:118mph

0-62mph: 9.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 78.5

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 94g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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