There are all kinds of things that divide the north from the south: the direction of house prices; the concept of paying to park outside your own home; enthusiasm for the 2012 Olympics. But nothing, not even Hadrian's Wall or the ability to comprehend Cheryl Cole, divides the country more than the attitude towards hot hatches like the Citroen DS3 Racing.
In London, the response to this highly unsubtle car, plastered in stickers, festooned with alloy wheels and carbon fibre, kitted out with figurehugging sports seats and a highly audible exhaust, was one of revulsion. My test model didn't, mercifully, come in the orange-and-black colour scheme, but even in 'polar white and carbon grey', I would have got no more disapproving looks in Islington if I were riding an actual Polar bear.
However, in my home county of the West Midlands, where I grew up dreaming of owning a Ford XR3i, it went down like a packet of pork scratchings, washed down with a pint of Banks. Boys in souped-up Citroen Saxos peered through the windows when I parked it outside a pub. Grown men who owned sober Audis but had salivated over Ford Sierra Cosworths as kids cooed.
And when they asked if I liked it, I, divided between north and south, tried to sound sensible, remarking that the best thing about the DS3 Racing was that despite its sportiness, it was capable of 44.1 mpg on average, that it was an easy car to live with and that on the motorway, driving between meetings, it's as capable as cars twice its size.
But the truth is, if you live south of the Watford Gap, you could no more drive to work in this car, with that chequerboard logo on its roof and flanks, and that noisy exhaust note, any more than you could turn up in leather trousers. Let's face it, this car does not scream 'great prospects in the human resources industry'. But you'll want it anyway, because the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, uprated from 156 bhp to 207 bhp, is exhilarating, the grip is incredible, and it looks and drives as if it has been designed by a 16-year-old boy high on alcopops. Brilliant. Or, rather, as my teenage nephew put it: wikid. 5 OUT OF 5
Citroen DS3 Racing
Engine: 1,598 cc, four cylinders, turbocharged
Power: 207 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 203 lb/ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 44.1 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 146 mph (limited)