Citroen DS3 Cabrio review
Citroen has followed MINI and Fiat by adding a soft-top convertible model to its stylish DS3 range
MINI took the roof off its hatchback to make the Convertible, and Fiat followed suit with the 500C, so it was only a matter of time before Citroen added the DS3 Cabrio to its line-up. The DS3 follows the Fiat in its approach, by keeping the car’s B and C-pillars in place and offering a large fully reclining canvas roof, instead of the complete folding drop-top favoured by MINI. This means that the DS3 Cabrio is only 25kg heavier than the hatch, so the decent engine range still performs well, and the sweet handling dynamics aren’t adversely affected. But best of all, the cool sense of French style and decently equipped DSport, DSign and DStyle trim levels have been transplanted from the DS3 hatchback range largely unchanged. You probably won't ever see one on the road but Citroen is bringing 10 DS3 Racing Cabrios to the UK, featuring a 207bhp 1.6-litre turbo engine and sporty makeover.
Our choice: DS3 Cabrio DSport THP 155
The Citroen DS3 is one of the best-looking superminis on the market, and the DS3 Cabrio looks just as good. As the DS3 follows the Fiat 500C approach to convertibles, the design retains the cool shark-fin B-pillar and floating roof of the hatch, and adds the choice of two optional colours for the standard black canvas roof. There are also seven body colours and nine different alloy wheel options, which provides plenty of scope for personalisation, while on the inside there’s the option of a new blue leather for the seats. Also included are Citroen’s stylish mirrored LED tail-lights, and an extra chrome strip on the bootlid. However, if you want to let people know you're driving a convertible, you'll have to look elsewhere, as the DS3 Cabrio doesn't look much different to the hatch. You'll stand out in the DS3 Racing version, though, which comes in matt grey paint, with red highlights.
The DS3 Cabrio remains sharp to drive, with very positive, accurate steering that doesn’t suffer noticeably from the lack of stiffness caused by removing the roof. The only sign of a lack of stiffness is some minor shake from the rear window over severe bumps. Like the hatchback, the ride is on the firm side (particularly if you opt for 17-inch wheels) but it's softer than a MINI, and there’s also very little body roll in corners. The electric roof has three settings. Press the button above the rear-view mirror once and it automatically retracts to the C-pillar. Another push of the button fully retracts the roof, although the folded top blocks your view rearwards, and there's more wind buffeting in the fully retracted position. On its return, the roof also stops where a regular sunroof would, while a double-press of the button will stop the roof wherever you like. The roof can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 75mph, too.
The canvas roof has been developed by Citroen and specialist firm Webasto, and comprises 180 parts. This means that there’s plenty to go wrong - but the technology is proven in other cars. Combined with Citroen’s efforts to improve reliability, particularly on its flagship DS ranges, and the Cabrio should be a reasonably safe bet. There are no major reliability gremlins affecting the DS3 on which it’s based, either. The standard DS3 has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and by keeping the roof rails in place, passengers in the Cabrio would be reasonably protected in the event of a roll over.
Despite its stylish looks, the DS3 Cabrio is a functional car. The bootlid has a clever rotating hinge mechanism that allows it to swing up almost vertically, meaning you can access the boot in tight spaces, although if you have the roof completely folded, you have to wait for it to move to its mid setting before the boot will open. Boot space is impressive at 245 litres, making it just 40 litres smaller than the DS3 hatch and considerably bigger than the MINI Convertible and 500C. However, the boot opening is like a letter box, which makes access tricky. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats remain, and there’s space for five, albeit with slightly compromised headroom in the rear.
Unlike some convertibles that weigh considerably more than the cars on which they’re based, the DS3 Cabrio weighs just 25kg more than the hatchback, so fuel economy and emissions aren't too badly affected. The engine and transmission range are carried over from the DS3 range, although at launch there are only three trims with three engines on offer. However, the biggest sticking point is that the Cabrio commands a larger premium over the hatch than the MINI Convertible does over the hatch. It's well equipped, but the DS3 Cabrio can quickly become a very expensive car if you then start choosing a number of tempting options from the long list available.