The first ad I noticed once touching down at the Geneva airport was one for the Citroen DS3, which had the headline “anti-retro”. We all know that the DS3 is pitched as a rival to BMW’s Mini, and the ad is clearly a jibe in the direction of the bug-eyed car.

I understand the DS3’s appeal for those who either don’t “get” the Mini’s retro looks or simply look at it as a fashion fad. With creative design typical of Citroen and a modern, classy cabin, we reckon that it will do very well in Europe.

At the Geneva show, Citroen Racing (Citroen’s STi/RalliArt) paraded the DS3 Racing that’s set to go on sale in the second half of 2010. Limited to 1,000 units, the DS3R comes with plenty of carbon trim – on the front bumper, lower body trim, wing extensions, door side mouldings and spoiler, to be exact. The grey showcar was nicely contrasted with orange on the roof, wing mirrors, grille and rims (18-inch, looks really wicked) and wore some funky decals. Orange and carbon are also repeated in the cabin, which has a high-quality feel to it.

Citroen took the 1.6 THP engine (as found in our Peugeot 308 Turbo) and boosted output to 200 bhp, while torque is up from 240 Nm to 275 Nm. The gains were achieved by “optimising powertrain components”, modifying the turbo, remapping the ECU and adding a sports exhaust system. With these figures, the DS3R will outpace a Mini Cooper S, but will it outpoint the Brit in the bends?

For starters, the standard front and rear tracks have been widened by 30 mm and the DS3R sits lower by 15 mm. Stiffer springs, retuned shock absorbers and “specific steering mapping” for a more precise helm have been added as well. To cope with the added grunt, Racing spec brakes have been installed – four-piston calipers up front and drilled discs for the back. Also, the switchable ESP system has been tuned for “extra vitality, sportiness and driving pleasure” – in other words, it’s less restrictive.

We’re bound to see more of the DS3 in the sports pages, as it will replace the C4 as Citroen’s WRC machine – the French brand is a five-time WRC champion and is defending both driver and constructor crowns with rally king Sebastien Loeb.

Live images from Geneva and official gallery after the jump!

Citroen DS3 Racing live images from Geneva
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Citroen DS3 Racing official images
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