DS 3 Performance long-term test review: and there's another issue…
If at first you don’t succeed, fix, fix again: turbo problem is back
So the DS 3 is broken again.
This time, it’s apparently an exhaust gas sensor that’s sending the engine settings haywire and causing the turbo to stop working. The unpredictability of the issue makes driving anywhere a nightmare because the turbo can switch off without notice and suddenly I’m faced with a naturally aspirated 1.6. On two occasions, I’ve pulled out at a busy junction expecting 205bhp only to be given gutless, sluggish acceleration that has me glancing in the rear-view mirror for fear of being rear-ended.
The replacement of the turbo electric valve that the DS technicians carried outthe last time this issue arose was to no avail. We’ve now been told by DS that the issue will be fixed once a new exhaust sensor is fitted.
This has me confused, because before I handed the car back to be fixed, I took it to my dad’s garage (he’s a mechanic). He plugged in his ECU reader and it said the fault was related to a ‘turbo boost sensor’, so neither part that DS has noted. Odd.
Taking the car for a thrashing or stretching its legs on a motorway seems to temporarily fix the fault. It’s as though the slow pace and low revs of urban driving trigger the issue, leading me to think that something is getting clogged up during fuel-rich periods and clears when the exhaust pressure rises. I suspect this is why there were no problems when we took it on a track day late last year.
A search online suggests my car’s problem isn’t common so I’m inclined to cut DS some slack. But the fact that the issue has happened twice is disappointing, not least because when it does work, the 3 Performance is an excellent driver’s hatch so I’m missing out on quite a lot of fun.
After two weeks of investigation, DS says the problem has been solved and it is returning the car to us. We only have a few more weeks left with the car, so I’m praying to the electrical gods that they’re right.
DS 3 THP 210 S&S PERFORMANCE BLACK
Price £22,995 Price as tested £23,345 Economy 37.1mpg Faults Loss of power Expenses None
Turbo fault before a track day
After the car had grown sickly, the Robins & Day London West dealership found that a turbocharger electrovalve and air flow meter fault was causing a loss of power. That’s not something you expect of a new car, but to DS’s credit, a courtesy car was provided and new parts were sourced and fitted within a couple of weeks, all under warranty.
With the car back in our hands, I figured the best place to check whether the problem had been rectified was on a circuit, so off we headed to the challenging Bedford Autodrome for a track day.
Sitting in the pitlane, faced with a queue of sports cars, supercars and mega-hatches – including our own Ford Focus RS long-termer, which had also been brought along for the day – I began to wonder if my decision to take to the track so soon after a mechanical issue was a wise one. Please don’t break today, DS, I thought…
About 20 minutes later, with the speedometer needle edging past 130mph along the back straight, I was fairly convinced that the car was back to full fitness. Even the significantly more powerful Focus RS could manage only 7-8mph more at the same point on the track.
The DS’s brakes survived a real pounding at the end of the straight, while its hunkered-down chassis meant the fast left-right that followed was met with satisfying composure – so much so that we’d claw closer to almost any car in front.
Commitment into hairpins was rewarded with useful lift-off oversteer – the sort that tightens your line rather than your butt cheeks. Around the whole lap, only the fastest sports cars could beat our DS.
At the end of the day, I’d completely forgiven it for the earlier problems. Let’s hope it stays that way.
DS 3 PERFORMANCE BLACK THP 210 S&S
Mileage 3627 Price £22,995 Price as tested £23,345 Economy 26.5mpg Faults Power loss (rectified under warranty) Expenses None
Developed a fault
Just as I was starting to really enjoy driving the DS 3 Performance, it’s developed a fault. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but the engine management and service lights have illuminated and the infotainment screen occasionally flashes up an ‘engine fault’ message. On top of that, the turbo occasionally feels as if it’s not boosting, so performance is rather sluggish. Off to the local dealership it goes.
Source: Autocar Online