If you’re only ever a casual racing fan, you might find it a bit unbelievable that Citroen is a world-beating nameplate. But they were, and for a while in this decade the Citroen DS3 WRC was the most unstoppable rallying machine ever made. These two castings are a fine, inexpensive encapsulation of that machine.
For LaLD Car Week, I present to you all the Citroen DS3 WRC, as seen in in the 2015 World Rally season, rendered by Majorette.
The Citroen DS3 WRC completes the trinity of Citroen rally cars that made Sebastien Loeb a nine-time champion, and in the process, a titan of the sport. Loeb won his first three titles with the Xsara WRC, the next four with the asphalt-perfect C4 WRC, and had two with the DS3 before Volkswagen came in and flexed their muscles in 2013, defeating what was once thought to be undefeatable. This is where the DS3 found itself: fighting for scraps as another Sebastian (a cat named Ogier) took the Polo R WRC to a title in 2015, their third straight.
Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke were the drivers who fought hard to keep the Abu Dhabi-sponsored DS3 in the running, but all they could show was a 1-2 at Argentina and a smattering of podium finishes in Mexico, Finland, Australia and Britain. True, the DS3 is still fairly competitive, but newer-spec versions of the Ford Fiesta WRC and Hyundai i20 WRC were beginning to catch up to them, and by the end of the season, Hyundai was just 6 points behind Citroen-Abu Dhabi.
But it didn’t look like that at first. Sebastien Loeb did win at Monte Carlo in 2013, and after a year off in WRC to race in the World Touring Car Championship, he looked like he could win again. But he spun on Stage 7, and ended his run at Stage 8 when his car hit rocks and broke down completely during liaison. Loeb finished 8th, his special 60th Anniversary DS3 WRC lower in the standings than it used to be.
Not like losing is that dour, though. After all, Loeb’s last two titles did come from DS3s, looking almost as untouchable in 2011 and 2012 as he did in the years prior. Red Bull-Citroen only suffered two retirements each time, and even at Loeb’s lowest finish in 2011 (in 10th), he did win the power stage. All this guaranteed Loeb was still the king of rallying.
Then, everything changed when the industrial might of Volkswagen showed its force as it entered the Polo in 2013, all dressed in white with Red Bull sponsorship. They also had their own Sebastian, who turned out to be just as good as the highly-decorated compatriot, and by the end of the season, Ogier and Volkswagen were crowned champions on their debut, deposing the old king and starting a reign of their own.
This particular model of the DS3 is the one Loeb raced at Monte Carlo in 2015. It’s a loaded livery set in Abu Dhabi’s gold, with multiple geometric particles, a golden 60 in the rear quarter panels, and Total on the side skirts. Dotted with other sponsors on the roof and the official website on the A-pillar, this model is brimming with detail from front to back, with clear, legible graphics and solid paintwork that, so far, is impervious to chip damage and has a lovely texture that my fingertips like a lot.
That said, it isn’t entirely perfect. Majorette don’t seem to paint the pillars completely, and the front wheels needed a quick paint marker pass because they’ve suffered curb rash out of the box. Being a basic toy, the model doesn’t pack any functionality or even an interior, which explains the blacked-out windows and light weight that feels somewhat flimsy. Still, I adore this casting for its accurate construction and high level of build quality, a step further past most Hot Wheels of comparable price.
Loeb’s car may not be a champion in the year the livery ran, but it was still undoubtedly part of royalty.
For his part, Kris Meeke managed to keep in step with the Volkswagens, contributing a win in Argentina and two of the four other podium places Citroen took in 2015 (during Rally Australia and Wales Rally GB, respectively). A Citroen stalwart since 2013, Meeke put up a wild mix of results in both the DS3 and newer C3 WRC, with wins one rally and retirements or low placings the next, dotting his career with a weirdly consistent inconsistency before moving to Toyota this year.
Meeke drove the DS3 rally car whose model is shown above for the entire 2015 season, and ran a respectable, if a bit dodgy, World Rally season. Majorette’s casting is considerably more successful at its job, particularly because they were able to nail down the car’s proportions perfectly, resulting in a model that could pass off for the real thing if you give it a quick wheel swap (those aren’t actually straight 10-spoke wheels).
One aspect of the model that I really like about this model is the gap between the rear wing and the rest of the hatch. It’s there, just not apparent at first. I only wish there was another ON the wing—there is a seam that separates one plane from another, and it would have been nice to have that wing also have a cutout.
Mind you, this is not 1:64 (in fact, it’s 1:58), so it does look a bit too big compared to most HW or Tomica, but the up-size already gave room for more detail, which it has, and I only wish the wing looked a bit more like a wing than a mere sculpt of it.
Oh, who am I kidding? That’s just a minor nitpick. Frankly, it’s difficult to find purchase-averting faults in Majorette’s DS3 WRC cars, and even if there were, they get a pass by virtue of its budget bracket. There aren’t many DS3 WRC cars out there at this scale, and only Majorette makes one that’s cheap enough for a parent to buy and give to their kid without worrying too much about breaking it.
Taken together, then, Majorette’s DS3 WRC models are just about the best you can find on a short budget. Its lack of interior and relative lightness may give the wrong impression, but don’t sell this casting short. With sterling build quality and consistency, these two models are just about the models to get.
I’ve always believed that some of Majorette’s best work lie in the rally car models, with crisp decorations, brilliant paintwork, and accurate body casting that make these toy cars look better than their price tags initially suggest. These DS3 WRC castings are arguably their best “basic” rally models yet, and I really hope I get to see it given the premium treatment like the Polo R WRC.
So ends my feature for the first day of LaLD Car Week. This wasn’t even the write-up I was going to run on this day—it was supposed to be the Aston Martin GT8 Vantage, but its wing came off and got sucked by the vacuum cleaner mid-shoot, which meant it was invalid. This chance find was a godsend, and I’m really happy to have these cars together in my collection.
I thank you for clicking and reading, and hope you enjoyed this review article.