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DS 3 engines, drive and performance

2022 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 2.8 out of 52.8

Written by Parkers Published: 12 July 2023 Updated: 10 October 2023

  • Two petrol engines on offer
  • Low-powered petrol and manual gearbox on entry model only
  • Standalone electric model

Petrol engines

DS offers two engines in the DS 3 – though we’ve reviewed the electric model separately here. The other two are both based around the same 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrol engine, that sees service in everything from the Vauxhall Corsa to the Peugeot 5008.

In the DS 3, it’s offered in two forms. The first is limited to the entry-level trim only, and serves up 101hp paired to a six-speed manual gearbox. It’ll do 0-62mph in 10.9s and on to a top speed of 112mph. This is actually plenty of performance in a relatively small car, and it doesn’t feel at all strained or underpowered.

DS 3 - front cornering
The DS 3’s lower-powered petrol is limited to the entry-level trim.

Most people, though, will opt for the higher-powered unit that’s optional on the base trim and standard on all the rest. This has 130hp and an eight-speed automatic, good for 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 124mph. It’s appreciably more peppy than the 101hp unit, and the eight-speed gearbox is fairly smooth in operation. It can get confused when working in conjunction with the engine stop-start system, though, with some jerky starts.

What’s it like to drive?

Broadly, quite comfortable. At motorways speeds, it’s particularly good as rounding off bumps – but the ride quality is less than ideal at low speeds. Below 30mph, more jolts pass through the body and into the cabin, although the 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to our range-topping Opera test car didn’t help matters. The tyres are practically painted onto the rim, which means they have very little give.

DS 3 - rear cornering
The DS 3 is definitely built for comfort rather than handling prowess.

While it can’t match the Ford Puma for outright cornering ability, the petrol DS 3 is noticeably nimbler than the electric DS 3 E-Tense, as the suspension isn’t constantly fighting with the added weight of the battery pack. It’s also more fun in the bends than a Skoda Kamiq, though to call it dynamic would be stretching the truth.

There are three driving modes, Normal, Eco and Sport – and as usual we recommend sticking in the Normal mode. Eco dulls the DS 3’s responses to make it feel sluggish, while Sport sticks a cattle prod up the automatic gearbox so that it changes down if you so much as breathe on the throttle.