The Citroen DS3 has been a real success story for the French car manufacturer, having sold over 200,000 examples worldwide. Nearly three years after the launch of the original hatchback version, Citroen has rolled out a DS3 Cabrio, which ditches the metal roof for an electrically-operated soft-top that gives drivers a taste of al-fresco motoring. It’s a recipe with success written all over it, so we hopped in the top of the range DS3 Cabrio D-Sport to see whether it has what it takes to compete with established roofless rivals in the form of the Fiat 500C and Mini Convertible.
The Citroen DS3 Cabrio looks much like the standard DS3 hatchback, which is no bad thing. It’s an attractive car with bold styling inside and out. The major difference is, of course, the presence of that fabric soft-top, which peels back fully within 16 seconds at the push of a button – even when travelling at speeds of up to 75mph.
Many will argue the DS3 Cabrio is not a ‘proper’ convertible as its roofline, B- and C-pillars and rear window are all permanent fixtures. Indeed, viewed from most exterior angles, you’ll be hard-pushed to tell it’s a drop-top at all, and even sat inside the thing you rarely get the same sense of exposure you get with more traditional convertibles. That said, on a nice day, you do get plenty of fresh air and a great view of whatever brand of inclement weather the UK has to offer at that moment.
The Cirtroen DS3 Cabrio is comfortable up front, with a great driving position and plenty of room for two. There’s not an awful lot of cubby space, however. There are no cup holders whatsoever and the door bins are fairly small, so expect a few spillages if you’re the type of person that likes to visit drive through restaurants or you occassionally enjoy a cup of coffee on your way to work in the morning.
Citroen claims the DS3 Cabrio is large enough to accommodate three rear passengers, but that’s a highly optimistic assessment. It’ll take three, but only if they don’t mind being sat virtually on each other’s laps. There’s not a lot of headroom back there, either – anyone approaching six feet tall will have to tilt their neck to the side (possibly resting it against another person’s head) to avoid banging it agains the soft-top and the (far harder) roofline.
To its credit, the DS3 Cabrio has a 245-litre boot, which is the biggest in its class. This has a clever opening mechanism that, instead of pivoting on a set of hinges, pushes the tailgate vertically towards the rear window. The opening itself is a little on the small side, but get past the tiny aperture and there’s plenty of room to load a couple of suitcases or a considerable amount of grocery shopping.
The roof, which offers such a great view of the skies, completely obstructs rear visibility, as it comes to a rest in its final position where the rear window would otherwise be. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it does make the cabin feel slightly claustrophobic, which isn’t an ideal trait in a convertible.
Performance & Handling
The Citroen DS3 is available in three guises – DSign, DStyle and DSport. DSign comes with a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, VTi 82 (82bhp) engine and a five-speed manual gearbox. The DStyle gets a slightly larger 1.6-litre VTi 120 petrol engine that kicks 120bhp through a five-speed manual gearbox, while the top-of-the-line DSport THP 155 gets a 155bhp turbocharged engine with a six-speed gearbox.
Our DSport test model felt rapid. Officially it’ll do 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, but it feels equally zippy even if you aren’t tearing away from the lights. It offers plenty of low down torque and pulls strongly throughout the rev range, always eager to close the gap to whatever is in front. It handles well, too. The DS3 Cabrio is almost as stiff as the hatchback model and everything feels tremendously well screwed together even when charging around corners with less than perfect road surfaces. The ride is a little firm, but completely tolerable.
Economy & Environment
Of the DS3 Cabrio’s three engines, the VTi 82 is the most cost effective. It returns 57.6mpg and CO2 of 112g/km, which compares favourably to the entry-level engine in the Mini Convertible (49.6mpg and 133g/km). The Fiat 500C is a little more frugal, its 0.9-litre TwinAir engine managing 73mpg and 92g/km.
Equipment & Value
The bottom of the ladder Dsign model (£15,045) comes with a decent amount of standard kit including cruise control, a radio-CD player with MP3 compatibility and steering wheel-mounted controls, 16-inch wheel covers and a display that tells you when to change gear for optimal fuel economy plus rear parking sensors.
DStyle (17,425) has all the aforementioned gear and adds air conditioning, interior mood lighting, a gloss black centre console, scented air freshener, 16-inch alloys, daytime running LEDs and a bunch of chrome detailing around the fog lights, grille, number plate moulding, handbrake and gear surround.
DSport (£19,675) ups the ante with an alarm system, double chrome exhaust pipe, front and rear carpet mats, Bluetooth, USB socket, automatic digital air conditioning, 17-inch alloys and a carbon-fibre effect dashboard. It also has a clever Citroen eTouch emergency and assistance system, which calls the emergency services automatically if you have an accident.
The Citroen DS3 comes with a good amount of standard safety kit including ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assistance, electronic stability control, driver’s front passenger’s front lateral and curtain airbags and front seat belt pre-tentioners with force limiters. The DSport version also comes with the aforementioned Citroen eTouch system, which provides extra peace of mind.
The Citroen DS3 Cabrio is a great little open top car. We really like its distinctive, highly customisable design and, in DSport guise, the addictive power that comes from that perky 155bhp engine. The Mini Convertible is a better option for those seeking a true open top driving experience, and the Fiat 500C is slightly nicer to look at, but if you’re after a soft-top that’s brilliant fun to drive and relatively practical (despite the lack of cup holders) then this is a top choice.
Model tested: Citroen DS3 Cabrio DStyle
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Acceleration: 0-62 in 8.2 seconds
Top speed: 132mph
Emissions: 137g/km CO2