Judging the French competitors: Citroen DS3 drive assessment


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We all the time need what we will not have, however is what we won’t have even price it?

We simply celebrated the Fourth of July, so what the heck are we doing shoving a French automobile — this Citroen DS3 — down your throats?

Nicely, the French were total bros during the Revolution, for one. And the place do you suppose the Statue of Liberty got here from? Plus, America is all about freedom, which ought to imply the liberty to purchase and drive any automotive you need, no matter its nation of origin.

It’s clearly not that straightforward. Even when your house state doesn’t give a rip about emissions testing, you must clear all of NHTSA’s hurdles — and there are many — if you wish to carry a overseas-market automobile into the nation earlier than its 25th birthday. You might pull a John Hancock and simply smuggle one in, however the Feds have taken to monitoring down and destroying contraband autos with uncharacteristic gusto.

In fact, none of this may matter if the automobiles provided elsewhere had been all full crap.

To search out out, we rented a pleasant little 2014 Citroen DS3 two-door once we had some downtime in Manchester, England, just lately. The DS3 is a automobile from a celebrated producer that doesn’t have a presence within the States anymore (the occasional C4 Cactus notwithstanding). Removed from a unusual oddball, it’s really a reasonably standard premium subcompact in markets the place it’s provided.

Citroen DS3 drive profile

The B-pillar might be the wildest a part of the DS3’s design, however we expect the general bundle works properly. Photograph by Graham Kozak

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Perhaps it’s as a result of we’re not uncovered to them daily, however we expect the DS3 seems nice in and out. Although it’s a small automobile, Citroen has made good use of its restricted sheetmetal; notice the fascinating B-pillar therapy. It’s not so quirkily French as to be polarizing — each a profit and a disadvantage, in our guide — however it does have some angle, particularly when outfitted with the diamond-reduce grey alloy 17-inch wheels.

In brief, the DS3 comes throughout as consciously designed in a manner that no U.S.-market vehicles on this class actually do; even the DS3 badge is somewhat work of contemporary artwork. Examine it to the Toyota Yaris, the Nissan Versa, the Mitsubishi Mirage. It’s not even shut.

The roomy inside is equally nicely thought-about. There aren’t any gimmicks within the cockpit, however the whole lot was solidly assembled and simply accessible. The gear selector knob and the hefty parking brake lever are pleasantly overbuilt, and we appreciated using metallic trim on the steering wheel and different chosen touchpoints — it offers all the things a premium really feel, regardless of the dearth of leather-based seats.

Citroen DS3 drive badge closeup

Now that is the form of wacky Frenchness we all know and love. Photograph by Graham Kozak

As with the aesthetics, the drive expertise was totally nice however not thoughts-blowing. We tried all the things from metropolis driving that includes roundabout after roundabout to busy A-roads to hilly, quiet, quick backcountry two-lanes. We practiced working the gearshift with our left hand and hopefully didn’t tick off too many drivers within the course of.

Shockingly (or possibly not), no one on the rental stand knew what engine the automobile had, and there was completely no documentation within the automotive to tip us off. Greatest we are able to determine, it got here outfitted with the 118-hp, 118-lb-ft 1.6-liter naturally aspirated gasoline inline-4. Not the bottom engine, however not the recent 204-hp 1.6-liter turbo, both.

In any case, fears of underpowered Euro-spec drivetrains had been unfounded: Linked to a 5-velocity guide, there was extra-than-enough output, easily delivered. The naturally aspirated engine was a pleasant change of tempo, since we’d simply assumed that the whole lot with 4 wheels in Europe sports activities a turbocharger lately. However once more, it wasn’t so good that we’re fascinated about making use of for French citizenship or something. Think about a base Chevy Sonic however with a great shifter, and also you’re most likely shut.

Citroen DS3 drive rear 3-4

The DS3 is a pleasant little automobile, however its presence in the USA would not actually change the enjoying area dramatically. Photograph by Graham Kozak

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Does that imply the lust for Euro-market vehicles is simply one other occasion of the grass being greener elsewhere? Possibly — aside from the suspension setup and tuning. With the suitable mix of firmness and compliance (and not one of the sloppy roll that appears to plague small, cheap vehicles offered within the States), the DS3’s experience high quality might be the one factor a non-Francophile will probably be pining over. In order cool as Citroen’s triumphant return to the U.S. can be, it’s the chassis and suspension really feel that we’d most prefer to see make it throughout the Atlantic.

It’s been mentioned that Europeans want firmer rides than typical American patrons, and maybe that’s true. However there’s a center floor between bone-jarring stiffness and a automotive that looks like a blown-out outdated lounge chair, and vehicles just like the DS3 appear to have discovered it. Emulating that trip high quality would go a great distance towards making low cost automobiles bought in America really feel considerably extra premium, even when it’s a form of in-the-background factor that non-lovers won’t discover. Plus, it will make cheap econoboxes much more enjoyable to drive than they already are.

With automakers from Ford to Honda to VW pushing for globalized automobile design and manufacturing, this transformation could also be on the horizon. Within the meantime, the NHTSA ought to calm down its absurdly restrictive 25-12 months import rule. We noticed loads of earlier-gen Mustangs, new Camaros and different grey-market muscle in Europe. It might be good if lovers within the Land of the Free might purchase, import and drive what they like as properly.

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