Style matters for the premium small car. Mini invented this segment in 2001 and Fiat followed suit with the 500, but both used a similar recipe for success – taking a much loved classic and giving it a twenty first century makeover while retaining a retro character.
The Citroen DS3 is completely different. It has a fresh, modern design with not a whiff of retro. Citroen Ireland recently teamed up with Benefit Cosmetics to release a special edition in Ireland of the DS3 based on a standard DS3 in DSign specification – the Citroen DS3 by Benefit.
Watch my video review here:
The DS3 is a stunning car to look at with some really interesting design elements like the distinctive ‘shark fin’ B-pillar, the floating roof and the signature LED strips down either side of the front bumper (see more here). Inspired by Benetint, Benefit’s cheek and lip stain, the DS3 by Benefit is finished in ruby red metallic paint, with contrasting white roof and alloy wheels.
Inside, the DS3 by Benefit has a special white dashboard insert with Benefit’s Gabbi’s head logo, a white gearknob and floor mats with red stitched Benefit logo and red piping. There is a feeling of quality inside the cabin and it is very pleasing to the eye with a simple, fuss-free design. The plush Alcantara trimmed seats are another highlight. The Benefit branding is subtle inside and out.
There is lots of space up front in the DS3 but it is a little more cramped in the back. The glovebox and door pockets are a bit small but there is handy storage shelves in the centre console for phone, keys etc. and there is one cupholder that the driver or passenger will have to reach back to access.
The boot is a good 285 litres, bigger than what you will find in a Fiat 500 or Mini, though a tyre repair kit comes as standard instead of a spare wheel. The rear seats can be folded down to carry larger items.
On the road, the DS3 feels much more taut and composed than most superminis. It’s got a sports suspension so the ride is a bit firm and bumpy over poorly surfaced roads, but the handling is tight and the steering light but precise, and you notice the way it changes direction really neatly. It’s not sloppy and it does feel rather sporty.
Though fitted with a 1.2 litre 82bhp petrol engine, the Citroen DS3 by Benefit copes surprisingly well on the motorway, feeling steady, planted and well able to cruise comfortably at motorway speeds. This little petrol engine suits the playful character of the car and it is very pleasant to drive around town. The door mirrors are a good size and it’s relatively easy to park because of the compact size, though you do sit quite far back from the windscreen which is a little bit deceptive when parking.
The Citroen DS3 by Benefit is a very economical petrol car and during my test drive I averaged a respectable 50mpg though the official economy figure is 61.4mpg. Road tax is €190 per year.
Based on the DSign spec, the DS3 by Benefit comes well equipped with air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, electric windows and door mirrors and Bluetooth. You can listen to your music through the car’s speakers from an iPod or from a USB. Audio controls are mounted just behind the steering wheel for ease of use. As a bonus, buyers of this car will find a make-up bag in the glovebox filled with Benefit make-up products!
The Citroen DS3 by Benefit may look a little expensive at just over €20,000 for a supermini but it’s competitive in a segment where style matters. This car is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s a fun car to drive offering a sportier and more involving drive than less ‘premium’ superminis. It is also a cheap car to run. The Citroen DS3 by Benefit delivers as a stylish, lively, small petrol car, and is a quirky alternative choice to a Mini (with a bigger boot and not a whiff of retro!).
Model tested: Citroen DS3 DSign by Benefit
Price: €20,395 (DS3 range starts at €17,995)
Engine: 1.2 litre three cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 14.2 seconds
Economy: 61.4mpg (4.6l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 107g/km
Tax band: A3 (€190 per year)