When I first set eyes on the DS3’s sparkling golden roof, my mind skipped back a few decades to the days of stock car racing at Odsal stadium.

According to the rules of the sport, only the world champion is allowed to paint his roof in such a way to denote superiority over all challengers.

So it was that I would watch with intrigue from the Rooley Avenue terrace as gold-topped cars driven by legends such as Stuart Smith, Peter Falding and John Lund performed what seemed like motoring miracles on the floodlit shale track below.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A gold-roofed stock car leads the way during a race at Odsal in 1986

Above: A gold-roofed stock car leading the rolling lap at Odsal 

With half a dozen formula one stock car finals held at Odsal in the 1980s and 90s, it truly was a golden era for the sport in Bradford.

Now, with the arrival of the DS3 Performance, it was my turn to feel like a world champ for the week while behind the wheel of a car painted in matt black and complete with a gold roof, gold mirror cappings and even a gold dashboard.

Those who prefer subtlety may want to steer clear because this car’s colourscheme attracts plenty of attention, proving that a gold roof still marks a vehicle out as special, whether on the stock car track or on the public highway.

But the DS3 Performance isn’t all about looks – it’s good to drive too.

With its modified suspension, lowered ride height and a wider track, the handling has been greatly enhanced. When tackling the tighter corners with urgency, it displays sure-footed, confidence-inspiring qualities.

With its agility further aided by the addition of a Torsen limited-slip differential, this special DS3 would no doubt be capable of a blistering lap round the famous Odsal track!

One place where it did come into its own was during a day trip to Chatsworth House, the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire near Bakewell, as the go kart-style handling proved useful on some of the tight and twisty rural roads that run between West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The DS3 Performance with Chatsworth House in the background during a trip out to Derbyshire

Above: DS3's gold trimmings match those of Chatsworth House

If the car’s performance was equal to those roads, it’s appearance was also a match for Chatsworth House, which itself received some extra ‘bling’ during a recent restoration project that reintroduced gold leaf to key features, notably around the windows.

Under the car’s bonnet, you’ll find a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which has been updated for improved emissions and economy.

It puts out 210bhp, leaving it a touch short of current hot-hatch figures, which tend to be above 250bhp.

Nevertheless, it’s no slouch, feeling potent from low down the rev range and performing the sprint to 62mph in 6.5 seconds, which seems sufficient for everyday driving requirements.

Meanwhile, the gear ratio on the six-speed manual box has been shortened to create extra sportiness.

In many ways, it strikes a balance between a car that offers sprightly performance when the need arises, while remaining comfortable and easy to drive in towns and cities. However, once you leave the smoother surfaces found on city centre roads, the hard and sporty suspension makes for a less comfortable ride, as the car doesn’t do much to iron out road imperfections.

You get the overall feeling that DS Performance, the motorsport division of DS Automobiles, has paid great attention to detail in designing this car, with its 18” black alloy wheels, twin sports exhaust and DS Performance badging.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The DS3's gold dash

Inside the cabin, the gold dash might not be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it suited the car’s personality rather nicely and made a change from the ubiquitous black/grey dashboards found in so many other cars. The sports seats offer great comfort and support, while the leather-swapped steering wheel is a nice touch.

With its good looks, excellent handling and brisk acceleration, DS may just have struck gold with this little beauty.


DS3 Performance

PRICE: £25,915 on the road

BODY STYLE: Three-door hatchback

ENGINE: 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 210bhp

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual

0-62MPH: 6.5sec


EMISSIONS: 125g/km