Long Term Test: Citroen DS3 leaves us with a bump


It has been a while since we wrote about our long term Citroen DS3, and with good reason.

All had been going well with the trendy little supermini and we were convinced that Citroen had got it right with their Mini rival, but our love affair came to a swift and unwanted end one dark night on the motorway.

My girlfriend and I were returning from a weekend away in Cambridge a month or so back when the traffic suddenly started slowing on the M11.

Being a conscientious kind old soul I opted to do as many others around me had, and flick the DS3's hazard lights on to warn those behind of the impending jam.

Unfortunately, despite having the car lit up like a Christmas tree, the driver in the car behind hadn't realised we were slowing down, and carried on regardless at around 60-70mph. Actually, that isn't strictly true – they carried on until they stopped abruptly on the DS3's back bumper.

The damage caused by the impact is evident enough in the picture I snapped after we'd rolled to a gentle halt on the hard shoulder. Fortunately my girlfriend and I fared a little better, and were only left sore and a little shaken by the collision.

The other car – a 2008 Volkswagen Golf – was less lucky, although thankfully the driver was fine. It stopped at the point of impact in the carriageway.

This was where my faith in humanity took a huge leap. Rather than being left to sort the whole mess out ourselves, a red Renault Clio containing a group of young lads who'd witnessed the incident immediately stopped to lend a hand. Once they had checked we were ok they rushed back and pushed the stricken Golf off the motorway.

I'm sure that goes against all official advice and of course I would never suggest doing the same, but I know that everyone involved in the crash was very grateful to Joe, Dan and the other guys whose names I didn't catch.

The rest of the evening took on the obligatory bureaucratic air that is common to this sort of affair – emergency services arrived and swiftly moved on once they saw the incident was only minor and being dealt with. Once everyone had passed the necessary breath tests we were free to go.

So our time with the DS3 came to a swifter end than expected, but for all the fantastic impressions of handling and enjoyment from the precise gearchange and steering, the peppy performance from the 1.6-litre turbo engine and its head-turning looks, it was the final act that impressed me most.

The motorway impact was severe enough to give both me and my girlfriend whiplash and sore spines for longer than just the next day, and the DS3 was an insurance write-off despite being only six months old. However, thinking back to the Golf and how it wouldn't move and the driver's door wouldn't open, and remembering just how fast it was going when we were hit, it could have been a lot worse had we not been nestled in the cockpit of a very modern car.

Modern safety systems are perhaps the most under-appreciated aspects of today's automobiles – its something we take for granted as we never expect to experience its benefits. The accident which sent our DS3 to the great scrap heap in the sky is much like thousands of others which will occur this year, but the fact that we – the important squidgy bit in the middle – emerged from it relatively unscathed is a testament to the incredibly high standard it was built to.

RK10 VNE – Rest in Peace.