Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6
  • Engines to suit all tastes
  • Five punchy turbo petrols
  • Two frugal diesels

There’s a decent choice of seven engine options on offer across the DS 3 range, all of which are familiar PSA (Peugeot, Citroen and DS’s parent company) units.

DS 3 petrol engines

We reckon the petrol engines on offer suit the character of the DS 3 better than diesel, no matter which version you pick.

Our favourite is the PureTech 130. It’s a three-cylinder with 130hp and 230Nm of torque available from 1,750rpm, so it’s a versatile thing on the road, pulling well from low engine speeds, with enough punch to overtake slow-moving traffic easily on B-roads. It sounds the part too, with a distinctive thrum that four-cylinder engines simply don’t have. The 0-62mph benchmark sprint is taken care of in 8.9 seconds, and will go on to reach a 127mph top speed.

However, this engine is only available in higher-spec models, whereas the 110hp PureTech 110 is available across a wider range of models and, in reality, doesn’t feel much slower. A torque figure of 205Nm means it still feels punchy when you need to overtake, and a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds is adequate.

If you want more power, there’s the 1.6-litre THP 165, which is a four-cylinder and thus doesn’t sound as interesting, even if it’s a touch more powerful, boasting 165hp and 240Nm of pulling power. It takes 7.5 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, and will reach a 135mph top speed.

Both the THP 165 and PureTech 130 are mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox with a relatively long throw, but well-spaced ratios, while lower-powered models come with a five-speed transmission.

Other petrol options include a lower-powered three-cylinder with 82hp – badged PureTech 82 - while the DS 3 Performance gets a 210hp version of the 1.6-litre THP engine.

The PureTech 82 ambles from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds, and tops out at 108mph, while the DS 3 Performance is quite the opposite, slashing the 0-62mph time to a lively 6.5 seconds, with a 143mph top speed.

Diesel power

The diesel engines in the DS 3 offer lower running costs, but a less enjoyable drive. There are two BlueHDi units to choose from – one with 99hp and the other 120hp.

They’re likely to be chosen by company car drivers due to lower BIK rates and a longer range between refills.

The 99hp BlueHDi 100 will go from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds and will reach 117mph at full chat but, despite the low power output, its 254Nm of torque is enough to feel punchy through the gears when overtaking.

It’s a similar story for the BlueHDi 120. A healthy 285Nm of torque ensures this version of DS 3 feels as lively as the more powerful petrols when you go to overtake, while its 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds is commendable. This one will reach 118mph at the top end.

  • DS 3 feels agile and nimble
  • Body roll is minimal and steering sharp
  • Not as fun as a MINI, though

The DS 3 is quick to respond to steering inputs and feels light on its feet – the light steering helps with this, but it can feel overly assisted and lacking in feel. 

Body control is good, meaning the DS 3 doesn’t roll too much through corners, but the firm suspension adds an edge to the ride and makes it feel crashy on the worst surfaces.

It’s not as fun as a MINI Hatch – few cars are – but has a charm in its own right. The handling of petrol models is better than the diesels due to the lighter weight over the front of the car.

However, the more powerful engine you go for, the more easily the DS 3’s front end can feel overwhelmed in putting the power down to the road.