Mini’s premium supermini supremacy was always going to come under attack. But who’d have thought the latest challenge would come from Citroen?
DS3 is a premium Citroen supermini
This is the Citroen DS3. Revealed in concept form as the DS Inside at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, the production version is set to be one of the stars of September’s Frankfurt show.
The DS3 looks spectacular – from the ‘floating’ contrast-colour, Mini-esque roof, to the ‘shark’s fin’ B-pillar and the aggressive LED running lights that carve down the sides of the front bumper. Whether you like it or loathe it, it is certain to grab your attention.
Room inside for five?
This trend continues into the interior, which combines a modern look with high-quality materials and – apparently – full-size seating for five. Thin-backed front seats improve rear legroom, the 285-litre boot is the largest in class, and the 60:40 split rear seats fold flat in a single movement to free up additional storage room.
A full suite of electronic driver aids come as standard including , and passenger safety is catered for by six airbags. The DS3 will also be available with all the latest Citroen in-car entertainment gizmos, such as satellite navigation with multimedia functions and Bluetooth.
Can Citroen really take on Mini?
Whether Mini customers will take the Citroen brand seriously remains to be seen – but we seem to recall asking a similar question about Fiat when the new 500 was announced. And the little Fiat has done extremely well.
Another bonus for the DS3 is that the Citroen actually shares its engines with Mini. The DS3’s 94bhp and 118bhp naturally aspirated petrol engines and 108bhp turbodiesel are essentially identical to the Mini offering, while a 148bhp turbo petrol and an 89bhp turbodiesel also offered in the Citroen are similar those used by Mini but in a different state of tune.
And, like the Mini, the DS3’s environmental credentials are highly commendable. The entry-level 89bhp diesel emits just 99g/km CO2, the 108bhp version 115g/km; even the top spec turbo petrol remains competitive at 160g/km.
Plenty of personal touches available
Furthermore, all manner of personalisation options will be on offer to DS3 customers, just as they are with the Mini. They include a choice of four roof colours – Black, White, Blue and Red – different wing-mirror, rubbing strips and wheel finishes, and various pieces of interior trim. Even the keyfob can be matched to the exterior paint colour.
No news on the pricing yet, but we suspect the Citroen DS3 will not come cheap. It arrives in the UK early in 2010.
Two further premium Citroen DS models are schedule to appear in the near future based on the C4 and C5.
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