For those of you that are thinking “That’s a Citroen DS 3”. You’d be wrong, very wrong. DS is Citroen’s breakaway luxury/performance division and is now officially a car-maker in its own right.

Clearly, the insanity still remains with this reincarnation of the hottest small Citroen (sorry DS) you can buy. The DS 3 Performance Black follows a long line of hot French hatchbacks that were all a bit bonkers in their own little way. Take the Citroen AX GT, single spoke steering, tiny little motor and panels so light you could feel the rain hitting them. Then they gave us the Saxo VTR, these things were everywhere; and I mean everywhere at one time.

The Saxo followed a simple formula, a minimal amount of weight coupled with a punchy motor equaling lots of fun.

Now the confusion of who actually makes the DS 3 is out of the way, what about the car. This hot DS model follows on from the excellent DS3 Racing model of five years ago, remember that one; yes it was the one with orange trim that was generally a bit insane.

Now the DS 3 is back in the form of this new Performance Black model. Gone is the orange trim, replaced with, well, gold. This is somewhat an unusual color choice and you can have the DS 3 Performance Black is any color you want, as long as its matte black with a gold roof.

The Visuals

Firstly the elephant in the room, the matte black bodywork. In recent years matte wraps have ebbed out of fashion somewhat. DS have gone their own way here and covered all of the lower body and added some graphics which are the only optional extra you can choose for £250.

If you were to say to a neutral person “I drive a matte black and gold car” they may ask you if you’re insane. Here, however, DS have pulled it off. Yes, the looks won’t be for everyone but there is no doubt the color combination is striking and like nothing else you can buy straight from the factory in the small hatch sector of the market.

The DS 3 is and always has been a good looking hatchback, it just has that something different about it, and you know what I’m getting at. Park it next to one of its rivals such as the Fiesta ST and it just looks completely the polar opposite styling wise. Yes, the Fiesta ST is a handsome looking car but so is the DS 3, in Performance Black spec the insanity is escalated somewhat but as I said before, the looks are perhaps not for everyone but they are striking for sure.

On The Inside

The insanity continues on the inside, you get huge suede sports style seats which are superb and full of support in all the correct places during cornering. The driving position feels a little out of sorts at first; it just feels a bit different to other cars, very upright to a point. This is no bad thing as you quickly become at home in the cabin.

When first entering the DS 3 Performance’s cabin you will notice that the gold theme continues on the inside; across pretty must the entire upper dashboard if I am being accurate. Again, this may not be for everyone but it does look rather good and there is nothing else like it on the market currently.

This being the hottest DS 3 you can buy, you get everything included. Items such as automatic air conditioning, reversing camera, cruise control and satellite navigation are all included. Kudos to DS for doing this, as some car makers love nothing more than to sell you a supermini with an options list longer than your arm with the sole aim of raising the end sale price.

The Driving

The DS 3 Performance Black also has the numbers to live up to those rather bold looks, 0-62mph is dispensed with in a class equalling 6.5 seconds, find enough road without a legal limit and it will propel you onto a very quick 143mph.

All of this glorious speed comes from a 1.6-litre turbo motor which is good for 205bhp and 221ib ft of torque. For all these numbers would be meaningless if the DS 3 cannot lay down all of its power, thankfully the boffins at DS Automobiles have got you covered there as well by fitting a front differential that makes sure that all that power makes it way to the road in a tidy fashion.

Plant the throttle in the DS 3 and a furious wave of turbo boost and torque carries you forward, yes, the differential does present with minor amounts of torque steer as you’re getting the power down, but it does its job very well with the car never getting out of shape.

In the corners, the excellent DS 3 sports seats hold you snugly whilst the car remains taut which merely encourage you to push it harder. The only downside of this tautness is that the ride does suffer somewhat on broken up road surfaces where it can skip over the bumps rather than absorb them in any way.

During hard acceleration the DS 3 growls away encouraging you to drive it faster, it’s just one of those hot hatch’s that wants you to get in and drive it, find some decent countryside B-roads and go for a blast.


Coupling unique looks and a certain flair that is lacking in some rivals, the DS 3 Performance Black is certainly a unique choice. It has pace and power in spades.

Find yourself on a decent B-road in one of these and it will leave you grinning.  The DS 3 may lack some finesse over its rivals with its tautness, but don’t let this put you off as it can be a riot when driven hard.

Whilst the tautness and the looks may not be for everyone, if you’re in the market for a top end small hot hatch the DS 3 Performance Black is absolutely worth a look.

Technical Specification:

Engine: 4-cylinder 1.6, Turbocharged

Power and Torque: 205bhp, 221ib ft

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Kerb weight: 1,175kg

Top speed: 143mph

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Economy: 52mpg (combined)


Price: £23,485 (As tested £23,735)




The Visuals
On The Inside
The Driving
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Editor, road test reviewer, news & features writer for Freelance motoring writer for hire. Car guy until the end, creator and owner of, chosen tribe leader of Live To Drive at Tech fan and twitter addicted. Please save the cars! Car fan, BMW E39 owner and fixer and occasional cross country driver.