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Ateco eyes hot-shoe Citroen DS3 Racing

Sacre bleu: Citroen Australia says it hopes to land 20 of the hot DS3 Racing hatches, courtesy of the Brits.

UK production might open door for a taste of Citroen’s DS3 flagship Down Under

Citroen logo14 Dec 2010

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIA’S Citroen importer is negotiating with the French factory to secure 10 per cent of Britain’s allocation of the hottest version of its new DS3 premium hatch.

Citroen is making just 200 of the 152kW DS3 Racing hot hatchbacks in UK-spec right-hand drive, of which about half are already spoken for among UK customers.

But Ateco Automotive’s Citroen Australia would love to snaffle 20 of those for Australian customers eager to step up to the Citroen Mini-muncher, which is said to be good for a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.5 seconds.

Ateco previously said it had no plans to import the Racing version of the DS3, but the change of plan came with Citroen’s decision to tool up for a UK version.

However, hopes for diesel DS3 models remain on the shelf while production is still rationed to about 35 DS3s a month, making splitting the range uneconomic.

Citroen Australia general manager Miles Williams said the DS3 Racing was everything that the DS3 stood for, taken to the ultimate level.

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“Like the DS3 already in Australia, it offers a unique level of chic style combined with real-world practicality and usability, mixed with a strong dose of driving excitement,” he said.

“Citroen Racing has turned all of this up maximum and, therefore, of course we want to see the DS3 Racing in Australia. Why should the Europeans have all the fun.”

The DS3 Racing – shown as a concept at this year’s Geneva motor show in March – would arrive about mid 2011, should Ateco have its wish granted.

Effectively, it would arrive as the DS3 range flagship, above the current two DS3 models, the $32,990 DStyle and $35,990 DSport, which went on sale in Australia in November.

In the UK, the DS3 Racing will be sold for £23,100 ($A36,836), making the DS3 Racing at least £1000 more expensive than the Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) and the Renaultsport Clio 200.

Like the Mini and regular DS3 petrol models, the DS3 Racing is powered by BMW/Peugeot’s 1.6-litre Prince four-cylinder engine.

Power is boosted from the 115kW of the DS3 DSport model to 152kW, courtesy of greater turbo boost, engine management software tweaks and a re-designed exhaust.

However, that it still short of the 155kW pumped out by the Mini JCW that sells in Australia for $51,700.

Torque is up 15 per cent from 240Nm on the DS3 DSport to 275Nm, which is marginally lower than the Mini JCW’s 279Nm.

The DS3 Racing’s 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds is 0.4 seconds slower than the top-shelf Mini’s claimed 6.1 seconds.

However, the DS3 Racing – which comes exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox – can comfortably account for the Mini Cooper S, whose 129kW and 240Nm engine propels the Coupe version to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds.

Despite the extra performance, the DS3 Racing returnes a combined fuel economy figure of 6.4 litres per 100km – superior to the Sport’s 6.7L/100km.

Apart from more grunt, the DS3 Racing is lower by 15mm and its track is widened by 20mm for superior handling, while the steering electronics have been remapped to make it sportier.

The electronic stability control (ESC) system can be switched off, while brakes have been boosted with four-piston Brembo callipers gripping 323mm discs on the front.

New, lighter 18-inch ‘reverse rim’ alloy wheels, which have the hub moved towards the inside of the car to improve the footprint, are shod with 215/40R tyres.

Styling is enhanced with twin tailpipes and carbon-fibre body parts, including the air diffuser, front bumper spoiler, side rubbing strips, lower body trim and mudguard extensions.

The DS3 Racing is available in two new colour schemes with Obsidian Black and orange highlights or Banquise White with grey highlights. The latter also features a carbon radiator grille.

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