Gina Baksa reviews the sporty DS 3 Black Lézard PureTech 110 S&S 5-speed manual hatchback.
The last time I drove a French-made car was a bone-shaking ride in my beloved 2CV when I was a student. Fast forward a few decades and Citroën has created a DS premium division that embraces its Gallic heritage with a nod to a far sexier, on-trend design in the turbo-charged DS 3 Black Lézard PureTech 110 S&S 5-speed manual hatchback.
Aesthetically speaking, black is the new black with the DS 3 Black Lézard: blessed with its Nera Black exterior and black hand-finished roof, this cool cat has curvaceous, sleek lines, with an agile grace and dynamic profile. It looks robust but not boxy and visually is more than a match for its closest hot hatch rivals. Rear windows are dark tinted lending a rather roguish air.
I love the matching black basalt leather upholstery, the gloss black dash, centre console and interior door handle surrounds. The part-leather steering wheel is height and reach adjustable which is great for a shorty like me and I liked the feel of it – well designed apart from a very plasticky cover on the lower half that cheapens the look and keeps hands cold. And I’d imagine sticky on a warm day.
For me, the driver’s seat is the most important element of a well-designed car. If the seat is lousy no matter the power under the hood, or bells and whistles in the cabin, the drive will be awful. So, I’m happy to say the DS 3 Black Lézard has beautifully designed leather sport seats that feel snug, sexy and supportive, delivering a most engaging driving experience. Both driver and passenger seats are height adjustable.
The gloss black dashboard is well designed with easy-to-read speedo and rev counter dials, and includes an exterior temp display and even tyre pressure monitor. Electric windows are only available in the front of the DS 3, so it’s old-school winding for rear passengers. Mirrors are well placed – all electrically adjustable and heated, and there’s auto-door and boot lock when driving which is a great safety feature.
The leather vibe extends to the hand break which is well-sited and easy to use – although oddly not accessible with the armrest down. The five-speed gear knob is also leatherbound and smooth. The DS 3 Black Lézard also comes with a nifty black leather pouch-wallet – useful for keys, sunnies, lipstick and phone.
Acceleration on this turbo DS 3 Black Lézard is fantastic. Far better than I’d imagine. She purrs hungrily into life and reaches 62mph in 9.6 seconds but feels much faster. Thanks to the turbo-charged, fuel injection 1199-litre engine this pocket rocket takes off with just a touch on the accelerator and a smooth gear shift up and down the five-speed box. Likewise, I found the brakes very sensitive – just a touch and they’ve engaged. Thanks to an excellent sports suspension, I not only felt comfortable and secure, but could feel the DS 3 holding the road very well.
Driving in London was a breeze since I could take off speedily from lights to escape the testosterone-fuelled white van men. For town traffic the DS 3 Black Lézard is superb. And she performed very well on the motorway too. We had a blast driving out of London into Hertfordshire and she handled the outside lane with ease. I had to watch the speedo as it would be easy to hit a ton. Top speed is actually 118, which for UK roads is more than adequate. An indicator on the dash also tells you which gear you are in too – very handy for new drivers. Fuel capacity is 50 litres and fuel economy is quoted as 65.7mpg combined, which is somewhat optimistic. My motorway and town driving achieved closer to 56mpg.
I’m not a fan of cruise control, but it’s here if you want to take your foot off the pedal for a while. Sport suspension is firm yet never a hard ride – unlike one of DS’s main competitors I could mention, and the automatic air-con was efficient.