Although it’s based on that previous engine, this new THP 165 version is better in every area, with power now reaching 161bhp, lower CO2 emissions of 129g/km and an improved combined fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg. You might question ‘the better in every area’ statement when you see that torque is still 177lb ft, but it’s available from 1750rpm and spread over a wider range; in theory this makes the DSport more flexible.
Thankfully the theory stands up to scrutiny. On the road the engine pulls strongly from low revs, and apart from tailing off slightly over the final 1000rpm if you rev it out, its delivery is pleasingly uniform. It’s pretty smooth, too, but it lacks a sonorous sound track to fit with the model’s semi-sporting pretentions.
Being limited to just 161bhp means the DS3 can’t match the firepower of the benchmark pace setters – models like the Mini Cooper S and Renault Clio RS 200 being two that spring to mind - but it feels zippy enough to make the claimed 7.5sec 0-62mph dash seem entirely believable.
When you aren't giving it the beans, that newfound spread of torque makes the DS3 easy to drive, without having to constantly swap gears and overwork the six-speed manual gearbox. Not that changing gear is a chore; the gearlever has a slick action, which is only marginally spoilt by a long throw.
It’s just a shame that the rest of the car doesn’t quite match up to the new engine’s breadth of ability.
The ride, especially at low speed, is harsh. Alright, so the same can be said of the Mini or the Fiesta ST. However, in those two the firmness translates into sublime body control combined with razor-sharp responses.
In the DSport the body control is merely average. In the main the car feels weighty, which along with the slow and rather inert steering (it feels all of its 3.1 turns lock to lock), doesn’t goad you into exploring its limits and edging it towards the precipice of grip - which is a shame, as that limit is relatively high.
When you get there you’ll find the DS3 understeers, although you can alleviate this by playing with the throttle to bring the rear into play, but that’s it as far as excitement goes. The DS3 feels safe and secure, but if you crave playful and fun, you’ll be left disappointed.
Inside it’s also a mixed bag. The stylish cabin looks and feels good, with enough high quality, tactile materials on upper surfaces to disguise the inevitable harsher materials used lower down - this is a supermini not a limo, after all. The small glovebox, narrow door pockets and absence of any cup holders mean storage options are limited, too.
Then there’s the driving position; at over six feet tall and long-legged, I didn’t find the set-up worked for me. It puts you in a less-than-ideal arms outstretched, knees bent stance; the slightly awkward pedal arrangement doesn't help much either. The leather trimmed sports seats may look good but you feel perched on top of them rather than comfortably ensconced within.
Other frustrations include the dashboard’s distracting reflection on the windscreen, the cruise control and radio controls completely hidden behind the steering wheel, and the previous generation PSA infotainment system, which is light years behind that of the Mini’s or VW Polo’s - or the Peugeot 208's for that matter - for ease of use.
On the plus side, the DSport's boot size is reasonable for a car in this segment at 285 litres, and the cabin has enough space (just) for four adults, although rear headroom is tight.