Citroen’s new DS3 has been on my mind ever since I took it for a test drive over three weeks ago. At first sight, you’d be forgiven for thinking they got it totally wrong. It’s much more muscular, intimidating even, than the original model (which we paid respect to in our Rough Edges Issue). It is brash and slightly on the arrogant side, definitely not as composed and effortlessly stylish as its ancestor. Above all, it turns heads and makes an entrance, unlike the original DS which is confidently timid, quiet even. It is aggressive and speedy, the kind of car that’ll have you lose your license in no time. The original DS, on the other hand, would have most likely gotten envious looks from traffic police, rather than speeding fines.
I let these thoughts rest for a few days, somewhat disturbed at the thought of such a timeless classic being butchered in such a way, and intent on getting to the bottom of it. Surely, I told myself, such a design conscious and culturally relevant car manufacturer as Citroen would be sensitive to the nostalgic and emotive attachment prevalent in their brand, let alone in one of their specific models? Surely they knew how much the model was revered by urban hipsters and statement-seekers, ever the word-of-mouth ambassadors necessary to any new product launch? Surely, I told myself again, they couldn’t have gotten it so wrong?!
Thing is, they didn’t – and this wisdom comes to me only after several days of mental twist-and-turns. When it first was introduced to the world, the Citroen DS was hailed for its innovative and modern values, an emblem of French manufacturing might that was quickly voted ‘car of the year’ in 1970. It turned heads and made a statement.
Although the new DS3 might, at first sight, appear to be a complete travesty on the car’s original values, closer inspection revealed that, actually, it was its perfect modern-day embodiment. Yes, its racy driving style, raunchy looks and sometimes obnoxious demeanor made it an odd choice as a follow-up to a revered and adored classic. But then again that is what we expect of manufacturers. To take things a step further. To get a pulse for what the people want and create it. With its new DS3 model, Citroen manages to do just that. Give the people what they want.