The Citroen DS 3. Picture by Robin Crossley.
Car: Citroen DS3Model: DSport plusMpg (comb): 47.1mpgCO2: 139g/kmPrice: £18,145 on the roadLoaned by Central Garage, Newport
SITTING in the DS3, you feel as if you are preparing for lift off rather than a quiet pootle along the highways of the IW.
With its black interior, space-age controls and hifi pod on the dashboard, you would be forgiven for thinking you were on the set of Star Wars.
But the DS3 is more than just a designer's flight of fancy. Apart from the style of the thing, it is an infinitely practical car, with good leg room front and back, decent luggage space in the boot and tremendous all-round visibility.
And that is without even starting to talk about the performance.
The DSport-plus model I tested was fitted with the top of the range THP 155bhp petrol engine, which although only 1600cc, demonstrates perfectly what power can be packed into a relatively small engine by modern designers.
It proved extremely nippy and the 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds amply demonstrates the ability of the DS3 to get you up to speed very quickly.
Citroen claim a top speed of 133mph for the 155bhp engine and although that is well beyond what is reasonable for IW highways, it shows the capabilities under the bonnet.
Add to this an excellent drive quality, with great handling around the tightest of bends and sure-footed braking, and you have an all-round package perfect for the 'sporting' driver.
And with a great selection of colour combinations, plus body styling that includes a "reverse shark fin insert panel", the DS3 has all the good looks necessary to turn heads at home and abroad.
The white, with black roof, specimen I had on test was one of the more restrained combos, with silver, with pink roof, being at the other end of the spectrum.
As for the interior, there were plenty of features to tick safety, entertainment and comfort boxes.
These included electronic braking features and curtain airbags in the first category; a quality stereo with MP3 or USB connectivity in the second and ultra-comfortable driving position with compact, adjustable steering wheel and decent space for passengers front and back.
The DD3 range starts at a highly competitive £12,850 on the road and offers a wide variety of petrol and diesel models.