By on April 13, 2011

Au contraire to VW’s New Beetle, BMW’s Mini, Chrysler’s Pt Cruiser and Fiat’s Cincuecento, Citroën is reviving the fabled DS name as a marque, one that intends to impress on consumers a very Gallic flair for sophistication and elegance. With the launch of the DS3, Citroën is showing a new direction for retro-inspired cars. One that points to the future, while keeping a link to the past of luxury of one of the most intriguing and desirable models in the history of all cars, the DS. Produced in the 60s and 70s, the DS impressed everyone with its different kind of beauty and many a mechanical innovation. Now, it can impress again.

To be sold at boutiques placed in the most valued pieces of real estate in selected cities, the DS line will not be seen at regular Citroën dealers (according to the latest print version of Brazil premiere car mag Quatro Rodas). In these high-end shops, visitors will be treated to an “experience” aiming to please all the senses. Visitors will be able to order their cars in a serene and chic environment.

The first of the DS line coming to Brazil will be the DS3. The DS4 will also be making the rounds. According to Brazilian enthusiast site, Citroën will retail the car starting in the beginning of 2012. They also mention price…an astronomical R$80,000 (US$50,000)! Being that, in Europe, this car goes for a paltry R$33,500 (US$21,000), the reality of how distorted car prices are in Brazil (and how healthy profit margins are…there! Can you hear? It’s another maker merrily making his way to the bank in Detroit, Turin, Wolfsburg and in this case, Paris).

To be a legitimate heir to the DS, the new DS3’s design is of course beautiful. The roof seems to float due to some clever design cues (the placement of the windows for one). From the side, the shape of a shark’s fin really stands out. Besides these clever tricks, the car offers 38 different color combinations for its sheetmetal, 12 different rims (in different sizes) and 3 trim levels. Are you ready? The levels are called: Chic, So Chic and Sport Chic. Mon Dieu! Très chic!

In terms of engines, the small is beautiful Euro-philosophy makes itself felt. There is a 1.4 VTi 16v unit good for an impressive (for its displacement) 120 horses, and a very good 1.6 Turbo THP (already reviewed on Peugeot’s 3008, here) that produces a healthy herd of 156 ponies. This engine is a very good example of Europe’s current downsizing trend. Coupled with PSA Group’s new 6 speed manual, it makes for an entertaining ride. The car sprints from 0-100 km (0-62 mph) in 7.3 seconds and eventually reaches a top speed of 214 km/h (134 mph), which would make it a thoroughbred on Brazilian roads. BTW, this engine is the result of a joint-venture between PSA and BMW (in which Peugeot did the work and BMW…well, BMW “oversaw” development). The engine can be found in the BMW’s Cooper S and a host of other PSA products.

The Citroën DS3 is a compact car. It measures 3.95m in length, 1.71m in width and 1.46m in height. It has a wheelbase of 2.46m. All of this makes it a very conventional and traditional sized car for its segment in Europe and Brazil.

Inside there are many attractions. Leather is de rigueur mon ami. The design is modern and there are some quirks. When you turn the steering wheel, like in all modern Citroëns, just the rim moves. The central part stays fixed. The bottom of the rim is square. The car’s illumination system is a show. It has a slit of LED daylight running lights. Safety is not forgotten and the cars comes with 6 airbags plus the usual alphabet soup (I won’t bore you repeating all the three letter words here).

Now, how does it drive? According to webmotors (no, I haven’t driven it, how could I? It hasn’t even come to Brazil!), the car’s sporting and captivating design is reinforced by its healthy performance. When you turn on the motor, you hear just an agreable blowing noise coming out of the dual escape exhaust. It’s not necessary to step heavily on the go pedal as the car has ample torque. Getting it into traffic is easy and its tight dimensions help. Steering is very precise.

Since it’s a compact, it doesn’t weigh much (1,100kg). So step on it and it goes! The turbo works wonderfully, and soon you are going at much higher speeds than legal. Acceleration is progressive and enticing. Well-planted, it feels solid at higher speeds. It is also quiet. At highway speeds of 120 km/h (75mph) the engine is turning at just 2500 rpm.

With the DS3, Citroën is bravely going forward where others have feared to tread. Rather than entering an evolutionary dead-end (much like the PT Cruiser did and the Mini and Fiat 500 could well do, too), the French are showing a possible solution for retro cars. Niche vehicles, yes. In this case however, it seems like there is a way forward. Citroën is trying to bridge the chasm between past, present and future. This first effort looks good. In my opinion, the forthcoming DS4 looks even better. Has Citroën found a future for retro cars?

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30 Comments on “DS Line Coming To Brazil in 2012: Has Citroën found a future for retro cars?...”

  • avatar

    Nice car to look at and to sit in, indeed. Somewhat overstyled, perhaps. but definitely not Teutonic.
    But those prices! Brazilian prices seem to be similar to the prices in Denmark (although there the state gets the money, not the car companies).
    Citröen also seems to have a DS5 in the pipe, to be unveiled in Shanghai next Monday (cf.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the tip herb! I’m keeping an eye out for this line as I’m really enjoying and getting what they’re doing. Pity that they’ll be out of my price range, but they’ll be a welcome and somewhat different addition to our streets so clogged with me-too, look-alike, boring cars.

      As to the pricing … I just throw my hands into the air. Hopefully it’ll be lower (this is still an early report, alot can happen until 2012).

  • avatar

    Exotic, refreshing, interesting…
    Mais, por favor!

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      See the previous C4 coupe. Now THAT is refreshing. The center of the steering wheel is fixed (doesn’t turn) and the hub is behind it, creating the illusion that the controls are floating

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Vanilla Dude! Athos I totally agree (keep an eye for a text from me tomorow, you may like what you read *wink*).

      If you like the DS3 (like I do), you’ll surely love the DS4 (like a do).

      All in all a solid effort from Citroën.

      Let’s hope they can generate sales for them and keep alive the distinctive tradition of French cars.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    It was called the Anti Retro in Citröen Italian ads. I read a newspaper grade-review there and they said Mini > DS3.
    And that price *rolleyes*, holy moly.
    It’s a shame that this car lost the AWESOME windshield the new C3 got.
    Any news if Brazil is getting DS3 racing too? In that case the hamster in the cage gets more steroids shots and pedals to 200bhp

    • 0 avatar

      No word on the super DS3, but I wouldn’t bet a real on that. Piity. For PSA, we are not worthy. Read a previous post of mine.

      The advertising is wonderful. The suits talk retro the ads talk anti retro. It’s an anti-retro retro-car. Perfectly French. Quirky. Honestly the ads are pretty good, too. Long time since I said that about car ads!

      And au contraire of you, I find that C3 windshield too much. Imagine that early in the morning or the evening…Positvely blinding!

      Like you I love the DS4

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        You should see the TV ads from here then. Actually, I almost forgot that cars needed advertising until I got here.
        The current local VW one rocks, there’s also one for the New new Beetle. And, highly recommended: Audi’s A4 Rubik cube (never get tired of seeing it), one of the Saab’s new ones (with an engineer) and the Volvo C70 with the ladies exchanging clothes.

  • avatar

    Over here in Argentina (it’s already out over here) they also called it the Anti Retro. Unlike in Brazil, in Argentina this model (as well as the DS4 when it comes out) is sold at regular Citroen dealership in well-off neighborhoods. The guys at Citroen pretend it’s a premium brand, when they’re some of the biggest scammers over here. We had to wait ALMOST A DECADE for a Berlingo facelift, won’t get the new C4 (just a facelift instead), and they claimed the C3 Aircross was a “Premium mini-SUV”. A car with premium price, but low-cost safety (no ESP, 2 airbags on highest trim) and low-cost interior. They put a really misleading advertising campaign showing the C3 Aircross as if it was an offroad car, when in reality it doesn’t have 4×4 or anything like that. Oh, but it has a freaking compass and accelerometer! The whole press campaign sounded condescending, as if they said “poor latinos, look at them, they think this car on drag is an offroad!”. And it seems people are already falling for PSA’s lies. See why cars in South America are so crappy?

    • 0 avatar

      Magnusmaster, I see your pont and your pain is mine. However, I can cut through the bs and get to the “truth”. The truth is Citroën is a regular brand. Nothing more nothing less. Though the fancy themselves only as makers of the DS you and I remember (fondly) the 2CV. Now, in Brazil the C3Aircross is selling well to early and foolish adopters (though the bitching has started, specially about bad engine-some are already clamoring for their old Idea). The 408, what a mess! New design, crap auto-engine combo. It’ll sell well initially then drop like a rock. Fluence for example will smash it.

      Now, the DS does look special. As always the devil is in the details. For 50 000 reais this car can sell. For 80 000 almost no chance.

      Anyway, I was feeling charitable. I hope lack of sales in 2011, watching as the likes of Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Honda and possiby even a Chinese pass or acoss them, they’ll take their heads out of their asses and face reality by 2012.

  • avatar

    Short Answer: No.

    Long Answer:  No.  Nothing about it evokes fond memories of the past, except for the name.  Nothing about it evokes warm feelings of the present, with the possible exception of the powerful engine.  The LEDS look okay, but don’t seem to do much in the way of “better living through technology.”  I think the car looks very ugly.  The greenhouse is squashed and the beltline is tall, which bodes ill for comfort and visibility.

    I see the shark fin.  Did you stop to wonder why the shark is swimming in the opposite direction?

  • avatar

    what part does it have any relation to the real DS?

    More closer to a Golf, FIAT 500 kind of body style.
    Does it have the high tech self levelling or steering brakes Hydro-Pneumatic system?

    They should have let the DS name rest.

    • 0 avatar

      Citroen, in offering this anti-retro retro-car, is trying to keep the spirit of the DS alive. Its distinctive styling and innovative solutions. It’s more a spiritual tribute (if you will) than a simple sheetmetal re-do.

      Weak? Maybe. I can get the gist of the idea though and I like what I see so far for the line. Maybe as it evolves the retro part will disappear altogether. Heck, it could become so big the “normal” Citroen will be in danger.

      I think the special  levellng suspension is there, no word in original text.

  • avatar

    Looks kind of like a Citroen Juke. When are they going to sell the DS here?

    • 0 avatar

      Wait till you see the DS4. Even more Juke-like, but more spohisticated and grown up. I like the Juke, but it is very Asian (though I think it waas inspired by a Renault Concept).

      But yes you have a point. The other day TTAC asked what’s the next big trend. Maybe this is it

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    In the 1950s, the DS looked like the cars we would be driving in the 21st century. The 21st Century DS looks like a shrunken bathtub Hudson. Suddenly it’s 1950.

  • avatar

    PSA Citroen reboot trying to get the message out they’re back again all quirky and no longer grasped tight by the Peugeot claws.

  • avatar

    I love this car, it is amazing to drive and looks cool, it is a real head turner and a great seller here in the uk. I bought a limited edition “white” (£13,000 aprox) and bought it before even test driving it! Risky, yes but worth it!

  • avatar

    These cars look lovely in the showroom, but overwrought on the road.  In fact they are just three door versions of the bog standard C3, but cutified.  The non-retro hype is clever becasue the styling isn’t evocative of anything, only the DS name is, which this totally uninnovative car traduces unfortunately.  So it is all very much hype.

    It is a decent car and the interiors are smart, but once the novelty has worn off this is just another car that is blinged up and priced accordingly.

    It also looks terrible from the rear becasue the stance is poor.

  • avatar

    I have had it since September 2010 and the novelty has not worn off yet, it is still the same fun exciting drive as the first day I drove it! I really can’t fault it….

  • avatar

    Reminds me of a Peugeot but somewhat over-stylized, I don’t remember DS’s having a Ford grille up front.

  • avatar

    After avoiding the article for a day or so, since the car won’t be coming here(?), I decided to check out and read the article carefully. When I saw the top view, the very first thing that came to mind: The modern equivalent of the AMC Pacer! The car is almost as wide as it is long! I hope the interior space is impressive, because I truly like the design. Yeah, over-styled in some areas, but taking the car as a whole, this greatly appeals to me. I see nothing retro about the car except for the DS moniker.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the input Zackman. I always read and love your posts. Thanks for letting me know what you think!

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you, Marcelo! Please continue to keep us up-to-date on things happening in South America, as well as automotive-related happenings, as we hear very little up here unless it is a tragedy or war or something else bad. We don’t even hear anything about the rain forest issues anymore. Sad.

    • 0 avatar

      The interior space is impressive, the front passenger side has so much leg room, mostly due to the dash being set back, only down side to this is the glovebox is small! and you can easily fit 5 adults of normal size, 4 if large, in the DS comfortably.

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