Citroen DS3 Racing

The DS3 R should have been a cracker, but lovers of feisty French hatchbacks could be disappointed

Some cars just shout "movement". They look ready to go at a second's notice, unhappy at being made to stand still. Citroën's new DS3 Racing is a such a car. Look at it. You might think it ludicrously brash in its orange accessorisation (there's a calmer version in white with a grey roof and wheels), but you must surely want to try it out.

The DS3 Racing and chequerboard logo on the flanks is repeated, much larger, on the roof, the better to alert passing helicopters. The carbonfibre you see all over it is real, and expensive. On the white-and-grey version, the front grille is made of the lightweight, ultra-strong weave as well as the wheelarch extensions. It's expensive stuff, and one reason why the DS3 Racing is £23,100.

So, what exactly is this Racing car? It's the brainchild of Citroë* Racing, the motorsport division which builds Citroën's crushingly successful World Rally cars. Its 1.6-litre, turbocharged, direct-injection engine produces a healthy 207bhp, quite an increase over the standard DSport's 154bhp. Recalibrated electronics, higher turbo boost and a freer-flowing exhaust are the chief power-liberators.

Those striking 18in wheels sit 15mm further out than normal. This, together with firmer springs and dampers (more so at the rear) and a 15mm lower ride height, should make this DS3 yet more chuck-aboutable than the already frisky DSport version.

The carbonfibre theme continues inside, and the orange cars get a matching dashboard. The front seats are racy-looking, and the thick-rimmed steering wheel is almost too busy in its design to hold in a relaxed way.

There will be just 200 DS3 Rs sold in the UK, one-10th of the total production run of 2,000. Why so few? It's not just because the DS3 Racing is an image-building exercise, designed to create desire for other DS3s. There's a more pragmatic reason, which is that a carmaker can build no more than 1,000 examples of a new derivative if it is to avoid costly recertification.

To build 2,000 examples, Citroë* Racing has created two slightly different DS3 Rs with fractionally different engine calibrations, one with a whisker more power – not that a driver can detect the difference. Which one you'll get if you buy a DS3 R is something you need neither know nor worry about.

For a lover of small, feisty French hatchbacks like me, the DS3 Racing's arrival is wonderful news. Given Peugeot-Citroën's recent return to the form that made my own 24-year-old 205 GTI still one of the greatest hot hatchbacks ever made, the DS3 Racing should be an absolute cracker.

Certainly its engine sounds great, with its deep, slightly crackly exhaust note. It has a strong, big-hearted thrust at low engine speeds not found in the Clio, which makes really rapid progress less effort-heavy to the extent that it doesn't feel quite as fast as it is. That's no bad thing. In corners it stays flat and grips hard.

But there is something missing: a transparency, a dialogue, the instant responsiveness that marks a Clio or my 205. The electric power-steering system has been retuned for the DS3 R, to give it a sharper feel around the straight-ahead, but it's not enough. The problem is not so much the weighting of the steering, more that it doesn't change convincingly with the changing forces acting on the front wheels.

Accelerate hard in a bend, or turn more tightly, and the steering should get heavier. It doesn't, and it's disconcerting. Accelerate hard on an undulating road, and the front wheels tug the DS3 R from side to side in a bout of the "torque steer" once all too common in powerful cars with front-wheel drive. Yet you feel none of this through the steering. That's disappointing. So is the fact that bumpy roads make the suspension chop and fidget in a way the Peugeot-Citroë* engineers used to be so good at avoiding. A Mini Cooper S JCW is worse here, but a Clio copes and so does a DS3 DSport. I love the idea of the DS3 Racing, but I couldn't live with one. It's an opportunity mishandled. And I'm rather sad about that.

The rivals

Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works: from £22,320, 211bhp, 169g/km. Slightly faster, slightly thirstier, even bouncier on bad roads. Great fun but steering is glutinous in Sport mode.

Renault sport Clio 200: from £16,810, 200bhp, 190g/km. Price buys relatively austere Cup version, two posher ones available. Sharp, revvy, non-turbo engine, best handling and ride.

Seat Ibiza Cupra: £17,550, 180bhp, 148g/km. 1.4 litre engine has turbo and supercharger, great power delivery, enjoyable handling, decent ride. Sequential DSG gearbox spoils it.

Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London