TO THE long list of great road cars developed from World Rally Championship winners – Subaru Impreza WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Lancia Delta Integrale, Evo, Lancia Delta Integrale, Audi Quattro, et al – please add Citroen’s DS3 Racing.
Drive the regular 121kW DS3 DSport and the potential is immediately obvious; nothing that a serious power boost wouldn’t enhance. Citroen Racing fixes that by taking the standard DS3 from the assembly line and adding a 149kW/275Nm version of the 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo common to the Peugeot 208 GTi.
Other tweaks include a stiffened and re-damped suspension that’s 20mm lower, re-mapped power steering, larger front brakes with four-piston Brembo calipers, and gorgeous 18-inch alloys wearing 215/40R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tyres that push the tracks 30mm wider. The Racing also gets a unique stability-control tune that keeps intervention off for as long as possible.
Exotic looks help. The DS3’s chunky body gets real carbonfibre wheelarch extensions, front splitter and rear diffuser, while the interior feels special with deep, supportive seats and more carbonfibre. Only the cheap add-on red stripe on the dash (and body sides) and some hard plastics let it down. Two distinctive exterior colour combinations are offered: black with an orange roof or white with a grey roof.
A few hundred metres at the wheel is all you need to know that the DS3 Racing is the real thing.
Firm, controlled damping that still manages to knock the edges off the worst bumps; an intense hit of torque and a swift rush to the 6500rpm cut-out; sharp steering with just a hint of torque steer; and instantly positive brakes without any dead travel.
Its 6.5sec 0-100km/h claim is in Golf GTI territory. A
mechanical limited-slip diff would help in wet conditions, yet it has masses of easy-to-access performance, especially at the top end, and the way all the controls work in unison tells you Citroen Racing understands.
The gearshift is light and a little loose, yet works brilliantly the faster you shift. Turn, lift and the DS3 Racing sticks; go in too fast, hit the brakes, and it still sticks.
Simple and effective. A hint of understeer is there as a sign that you’re closing in on maximum grip.
Try harder – really hard – in second or third and you can provoke a neat and controllable rally slide.
The DS3 Racing is another marvellous and exhilarating French hot hatch. Perhaps, to help justify a price that is probably in the region of $43K, Citroen should sell a limited number (say 50) badged in honour of nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb.
Not yet confirmed for Australia; needs sharper pricing Obvious rally breeding reinforces DS3 Racing’s driver appeal
WHENEVER Citroen Australia asked head office in Paris about the DS3 Racing, it was told “no chance”. The reasons are vague. The French blamed our poor-quality petrol and high ambient temperatures.
Except essentially the same drivetrain is sold here in the Peugeot 208 GTi and 308 GT, plus the previous-gen Mini Cooper S. Pushed, the Racing’s project leader told Wheels: “There is no problem for Australia to get this car.”
The question now is, when?
The sooner the better, please.