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New models - Citroen - DS3

Driven: Citroen chops five years off the DS3 price

Value: Citroen ups the spec list and performance while trimming the price.

Just one DS3 specification and no auto as Citroen trims its upmarket hatch

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Citroen logo15 Apr 2015

By NEIL DOWLING

CITROEN Automobiles Australia has streamlined its DS3 sporty light hatch range to just one high-grade equipment level in hardtop and cabrio body-styles as a part of a mid-life refresh.

The hatch kicks off at $33,990, plus on-road costs, and the cabrio version is $36,590, with Citroen ditching the base DStyle variant of the outgoing model.

Both the hatch and the Cabrio carry the same drivetrain offered with a six-speed manual gearbox only.

Citroen Australia said no suitable automatic was available from the factory, despite acknowledging that 50 per cent of the previous model’s sales were self-shifters.

GoAuto reported in January this year that Citroen would trim the number of variants it offers to simplify its line-up for consumers.

Despite the addition of a comprehensive feature list – it is the first Citroen with auto braking – the DS3’s pricing undercuts the DSport’s launch price in 2010 by $2000.

Citroen forecast a 10 per cent rise in sales of the brand for 2015, but admitted that without an automatic transmission for the DS3, sales could be improved.

The new DS3 has a tweaked version of the PSA 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that once also powered the Mini range. It now delivers 121kW/240Nm, a rise of 6kW on the outgoing DS3.

The new model picks up a wealth of features, highlighted by the high-tech LED headlights, the Active City Brake, upgraded suspension and the ability to customise the car through paint and trim to more than 200 variations.

In its 90th year in Australia and with just over 40,000 models sold in this country, Citroen Australia marketing manager Dimitri Andreatidis also reappraised its marketing position saying it had “no intention of being the biggest”.

“But we want to be the leading car company in terms of customer support,” he said.

“Everything in the DS3 is standard – that is what our customers want.” But the car is not without its ability to be customised. There are 50 colour options and with the seven decals available there are more than 200 ways to create an individual car.

The warm hatch is lighter, now down to 1140kg, and has been made more aerodynamic through subtle body changes for a new 0.31 coefficient of drag.

The Active City Brake uses lasers in the upper windscreen edge to detect a forward obstacle and operates from zero to 31km/h.

Together with satellite-navigation, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED and Xenon headlights, reversing camera and rear park sensors, the hatchback offers $5050 worth of extras.

The DS3 comes up against diverse rivals including the Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Ambition from $35,800, Mini Cooper S from $36,950 and Alfa Rome Mito QV at $30,500.

Mr Andreatidis said based on equipment, the DS3 offered 13 per cent more value compared with the Audi and 16 per cent better value than the Mini Cooper.

Citroen Automobiles Australia has a six-year warranty and six-year roadside assistance program with its cars, as well as a six-year capped-price service program.

Mechanically, the DS3 continues with the PSA-BMW 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine but raises the output and broadens the torque curve.

Discussing the lack of automatic transmission for the facelifted Citroen, Mr Andreatidis said the only optional auto was the old four-speed unit.

“It isn’t suitable for this car,” he said.

“The DS is a quality product and in the DS3, has a sporty flavour. We will not destroy the DS by fitting what we believe is an old and unsuitable gearbox.”

While Mr Andreatidis would not say what automatic would be suitable and even when the option would be available, GoAuto believes the hatchback could get the six-speed automatic used by the C4 Picasso by the first half of 2016.

Citroen sales have increased by 24 per cent so far this year to 340 units, compared with the 274 vehicles sold in the same period in 2014.

Mr Andreatidis said he expected stable and sold growth for 2015 and forecast a 10 per cent increase for this calendar year.

Following the trend of 2014, the top-selling Citroen model to the end of March this year is the Berlingo light van, followed by the C4 Grand Picasso people-mover.

New models for the next 12 months include a refreshed Berlingo van in the fourth quarter, an updated DS5 and C5 later this year, as well as a refreshed C4 and C4 Cactus crossover in 2016.

2015 Citroen DS3 pricing*
DSport hatch$33,990
DSport cabrio$36,590
*Excludes on-road costs.

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