Expert Reviews

First Drive: DS 3 Performance Black Cabrio

Monday 10 October 2016

First Drive: DS 3 Performance Black Cabrio

The new DS 3 Performance Black is the French manufacturer’s latest hot hatch, and is powered by the same 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that you’ll find in the Peugeot 208 GTI. It also uses that car’s limited-slip differential for greater traction through the bends.


Looks & Image

DS has given the 3 Performance Black a mean look with matte black paint and gold accents throughout the car. Adding to this is an aggressively-styled bodykit, as well as black 18-inch alloy wheels and twin exhaust pipes. Our test car also featured the optional DS Performance Exterior Graphic Kit, giving it an even greater visual impact.

The car is certainly imposing to look at, which is important for a hot hatch. Some may find the styling a little out-there, but that’s down to personal opinion.

Inside, the cabin has been left reasonably similar to the standard DS 3, save for a large pair of bucket seats. While looking the part, they don’t actually provide a huge amount of support, meaning that you can be thrown around a little when cornering at speed.

There’s also some faux carbon fibre trim on the steering wheel and doors, with the dash finished in the same gold colour that appears on the wing mirrors. It’s a good effort to brighten up the cabin and make it seem special.

With some neat touches, the DS 3 Performance’s look does well to attract attention to itself. If you’re looking for an understated car, you won’t find it here – but for loud styling you could find few better.

Space & Practicality

There’s more than enough space up front for two people in the DS 3 Performance, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for those travelling in the back. Adults will find a real lack of legroom, while headroom is also cut down by the car’s folding canvas roof. We’d recommend that the rear seats are left for children only.

That canvas roof also has a negative effect on boot space. Although able to give 245 litres’ worth of space, the entry to the boot is incredibly small which can make loading larger items into it quite difficult. If you’re looking for proper practicality, the hard-top version is probably a safer bet.

Behind the Wheel

Considering that the DS 3 Performance Black packs 207bhp under the bonnet, it doesn’t feel quite as quick as you’d think. There’s plenty of torque, but the way it increases speed just isn’t that exciting, especially compared to its sister car, the 208 GTI. It lacks any character in the exhaust, too.

As is commonplace with many DS cars, the driving position is quite awkward. In order to drive the car, you’ll find yourself sitting very far away from the steering wheel but with bunched legs. It’s an aspect that’ll become more noticeable as time wears on, especially on longer trips.

It’s not all bad news however. The DS 3 is impressive through the corners, with the limited-slip differential allowing for faster cornering speeds.

Value for Money

The DS 3 Performance Black Cabrio commands an asking price of £25,295, which certainly isn’t cheap. However, for that you do get a lot of standard equipment, including satellite navigation, reversing camera and front parking sensors. There’s even an uprated hi-fi system.

There’s quite a large black cloud in the DS’ otherwise sunny day, however. This comes in the form of the Ford Fiesta ST, which manages to be incredibly involving dynamically, but for less money. It might not be as fast as the DS, but it’s one of the most compelling packages on the market today.

Who would buy one ?

When looking at the current crop of hot hatches, the DS 3 Performance is certainly the black sheep. It comes with a good amount of standard equipment and certainly looks the part, but lacks the involving drive that many looking to buy a hot hatch will want. It’s a niche choice, there’s no doubt about that, so may be suited to someone who wants something slightly out of the ordinary.


Facts at a Glance

Model: DS 3 Performance Black Cabrio
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 207bhp and 300Nm torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual, driving the front wheels
Performance: 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, top speed 143mph
Economy: 52.3mpg combined
Emissions: 125g/km CO2
Price: £25,295


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