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Citroen DS3 2016 review

The flood of European hot hatches into Australia will continue early next year with the Racing variant of the Citroen DS3.

On CarsGuide's exclusive preview on the outskirts of Paris and on twisty, bumpy roads, the Racing feels right at home.

The Racing is not as rorty as a RenaultSport Megane, or as all-round nifty as the new Mini JCW, but it gets along briskly, is comfortable and well equipped.

It sits closest to the Peugeot 208 GTI already in Australia but extra equipment means a likely starting price of about $40,000. CarsGuide thinks $39,000 or better is essential.

Sliding into the DS3 Racing comes as a surprise. To date, Citroen has regarded the hatch as too hot for Australia's climate and poor-quality fuel.

If you have the 208 GTI I think there will be no problem with this car

Stock of the 208 GTI — which uses virtually the same mechanical package — is clearing so heavy negotiations on price have begun, to ensure the Racing leads the line-up in the first quarter of next year.

"It's being discussed. If you have the 208 GTI I think there will be no problem with this car," says DS3 product manager Benjamin Maigre. "It will be a pleasure for me to see this car in Australia."

In France, the latest Racing has a more aggressive look than the regular DS3 already in Australia, thanks to 20mm being lopped from the ride height and larger wheels wrapped around bigger brakes.

The intake and exhaust flow more smoothly, and the cabin gets sportier seats with more support and carbon-fibre trim on the dashboard and wheel.

Not as racy as its name suggests but it's a well-balanced package

Citroen has eight new models coming before 2020, including DS4 and DS3 built from a new mechanical package called EMP1. It promises — as VW has done with the Golf package that eventually will underpin 40 models — better quality and all-round refinement.

The Racing is not as racy as its name suggests but it's a well-balanced package. There is enough aural entertainment to make city sprints fun, the six-speed manual is slick and the steering is well-weighted.

When I get seriously involved on a winding country road it's happy to go, turn and stop. There is great mid-range punch from the turbo motor (153kW/275Nm) and the slick manual has well-chosen ratios. It claims 0-100 in 6.5 seconds and that feels about right.

The sports seats also feel right, there is good outward vision but it's missing the essential reversing camera.

Verdict

Peugeot Citroen is looking to put extra oomph into Australia — and the Racing is just the sort of car it needs.

Pricing Guides

$21,450
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$18,370
Highest Price
$24,530

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Dsport 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $18,370 – 23,210 2016 Citroen DS3 2016 Dsport Pricing and Specs
Dsport 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $19,360 – 24,530 2016 Citroen DS3 2016 Dsport Pricing and Specs