First drive: Citroen DS3

Richard Bremner

If you're after a small slice of fashion on wheels, a practical hatch wearing a wrap of sexy chic, your choice so far has been Mini, Fiat 500 and Alfa MiTo. But now there's something new to choose from the budget clothes-rail of automobile fashion, called DS3. You might be surprised to learn that it comes from Citroen, long makers of keenly priced, lower order hatchbacks.

Citroen has sold glamour before, but it was a long time ago, its Maserati-engined SM coupe, one of the most sexily sensuous coupes ever to roam our roads, dropping out of production in the mid-'70s. And then there was the car that this DS3 has been born out of. Arguably the most famous Citroen of them all, the 1955 DS, was a startling, beautiful saloon car that still turns up in adverts – Stella Artois's, recently – as an artful and futuristic style icon, even though it turned obsolete 35 years ago.

The original DS was memorable not only for its style but for technological revolution too, from its aerodynamic bodywork to its hydraulically controlled suspension. While the DS3 is neither a retro reinterpretation of the DS nor a technical adventure, Citroen reckons that there's some of the original's creativity in its make-up. Now, it would be dead easy to be cynical and say that there's nothing of the sort here - this is, after all, a reskinned version of the recently launched C3. Instead of a small, tall, five-door family hatchback with a giant-sized windscreen, the DS3 is a smaller, sexier three-door whose appeal can be dramatically enhanced by bold paint schemes and a tattoo of stickers across its roof.