Saturday, 24 March 2018

DS 3 is reaching for the sky in the luxury stakes

THE days of the small, utility three-door hatchback are well and truly numbered with the arrival

THE days of the small, utility three-door hatchback are well and truly numbered with the arrival of this week’s drive, the all-new 2016 DS 3.

This car embodies French flair for automobile design as well as that nation’s quirky ideas on what’s hip and cool.

A small luxury hatchback is, as they say, right up my strasse — I have long regarded the hatchback as a possible “prestige” luxury car waiting to happen.

Everything might appear in miniature in such cars, but the important ingredients of successful motoring are there — luxurious comfort, up-to-the-minute technology and safety, with great looks.

Why shouldn’t these compact little cars be as comfortable as a big car? Why not fit them with relatively powerful engines plus plush interiors and smart stylish livery?

Well, the new 2016 DS 3 proves all of the above is possible. A cursory glance through its specification guide shows that anything is possible.

Indeed, DS Automobiles’ brand slogan is “Spirit of Avant Garde” and one of the options fitted on the test car — at an extra cost of £150 — was something called the Irresistible Paris Kit.

Naturally, I was intrigued by this description. Did it, I asked myself, have anything at all to do with a line drawing graphic of a city skyline on the dashboard and rear windows?

Yes, it did. The Irresistible Paris Kit (love that name) was the “matt grey dashboard strip with Paris motif” that was also on the windows.

Now that may not be your thing at all, but let’s delve deeper into the spec guide of the new DS 3.

And here it looks like there’s something for everyone. The test car I have been driving was the new DS 3 Prestige. It kicks off at £19,495 and climbs to a not unreasonable £21,590 with options fitted.

These include the Irresistible Paris Kit (a real test of how stylish you think you are), Shark Grey/Black roof exterior (très smart, mes amis) and a lovely Black Leather Pack (costing top bucks at £1,000 extra).

In this section of the spec you can choose from either Chic or Elegance models. For example, the Prestige model has 17-inch black diamond cut Aphrodite alloy wheels, electrically folding heated door mirrors, a hi-fi system audio upgrade, and twin slash-cut chrome exhaust tailpipe.

But it gets better. Over the page you are in the realms of the so-called Exclusive Collection of the new DS 3.

Here you get Ultra Prestige which gives you lots of leather inside, including seats, gear knob, and premium carpet mats. DS says this version “epitomises condensed luxury”. So we go up a notch again to the Exclusive Collection’s Performance model.

Now you’re talking. This one has all those lovely luxuries plus a cracking high performance engine. There is then Performance Black which I felt is very me. “The ultimate distillation of power and refinement,” says DS Automobiles. This has matt black paint with gloss gold bi-tone roof and door mirrors.

I hope to test this car in the near future.

But you can see the emphasis is on a branded, monogrammed, luxury small car not a big, unwieldy, prestige model that always went down well with golf club snobs.

There is of course the ultimate new DS 3 and that I have to mention. This is the limited edition new DS 3 Performance BRM Chronographes, which represents the “pinnacle of Avant-Garde style” in the DS 3 range.

If you are one of the lucky ones able to purchase this car — just 10 individually numbered examples will be available in Britain at £25,495 each — then you also get an exclusive DS branded BRM Chronographes wristwatch.

After all this excitement you are bound to ask how does the car drive? When I went to the launch of the new DS 3 several weeks ago I said the car was “bang on the money”. Having spent some time with this 1,560cc diesel-engined version and driven several hundred miles in it, I found that it drives extremely well on motorways and is economic to boot (78.5 mpg on the combined cycle is the official figure).

What the DS 3 shows you is that motoring does not have to be dull and routine. Your car can be smart and stylish and reflect your own personality. I like to think the deep black version with a gold roof is me, but what do I know?

You may feel you are too mature and set in your ways to worry about whether or not a car looks “cool”. My advice: don’t give up that part of your life just yet.

You never know, you might enjoy driving around in a car that turns a few heads. Go on: you know you’re worth it.

DS 3 factfile

Test model: DS 3 Prestige BlueHDi 120 six-speed manual in Shark Grey

Cost of test car (with options fitted): £21,590

Euro NCAP rating (safety): five stars

CO2 emissions: 94g/km (Band A road fund licence)

Warranty: three years, 60,000 miles

Max speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.3 seconds

New DS 3 on-the-road price range: from £13,995 to £25,495

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