Citroën DS3 Cabriolet

For the DS design story, read our interview with Andy Cowell.

Over the last couple of years Fiat and Mini have positively stormed the B2 segment with their stylish convertible offerings. Now Citroën has entered the fray with a ‘Cabrio’ version of their successful DS3.

2013 has so far offered a particularly rewarding stretch of 'British Weather'. Apart from one fine day somewhere in the middle of March, we've been inundated with floods, blizzards and gales. Surprising then that the UK is the second largest market for convertible cars in Europe, but there it is: we live in eternal hope.

Citroën is coming to the party rather late with their convertible offering, so it’s desperately in need of USPs to set the DS3 above the effortlessly iconic Mini and 500. Both have a long (if vaguely tenuous) heritage, of which the DS3 is in no position to boast. Its great grandmother, the original DS is a different thing entirely. Yet in terms of uniquity at least, Citroën’s delivered with a fifth seat and a boot almost twice the size of the Mini's, not to mention a host of personalisation options and an overall look which is arguably more chic and loveable than the Mini and more contemporary than the Fiat.

The standard DS3 is an excellent foundation for any new model: stylish, solid, well appointed and offered with a proven range of engines. We couldn't help feeling there was rather a lot of turbo lag on the DSport, but as this has never been seen as a problem, I'm prepared to put it down to our individual car. When the turbo did eventually make an appearance, the drive was fun and dynamic. The car feels just as rigid as the hatchback, and weighs just 25kg more (the only additional strengthening required is across the top of the boot). Steering is sharp and direct and the suspension firm without being uncomfortable. Three petrol engines are currently available, the VTi 82, VTi 120 and THP 155 with a diesel variant expected later this year.

Externally the car is virtually indistinguishable from the hatchback. The front is identical, with its sculpted contours and distinctive vertical DRLs, as is the profile with its pseudo-aggressive shark fin, floating roof and heavy chrome door strip. Other than the roof itself the only noticeable differences are at the rear end. The side windows have deflectors at the trailing edge to improve aerodynamics, the rear wiper is missing, the boot lid has a new chrome strip across the top and the rear window is noticeably different. The rear light clusters have been updated with an 'infinity' effect which looks fantastic and was inspired by the Revolte and Survolt concepts. It's becoming increasingly difficult these days to find variations on Lexus’, BMW's and Audi's cutting-edge sculpted lighting but Citroën has succeeded in something really different. To appreciate the full effect they need to be seen in low light or at dark, but they give the car a very distinctive signature when viewed from the rear.

The new roof is like the Fiat’s, a canvas ‘sardine tin’ style. Operation is simple and effective requiring no more than a push on the overhead switch to open or close. There are three positions: sunroof style, all the way back or back and down. The third option slides the roof spoiler and bunched up roof down the C-pillar while the rear window hinges in and down onto the back shelf. Moreover this can be done at any speed up to 75mph. Whilst driving with the roof back can be a little buffeting, back and down is far better.

The only drawback is that when fully open it rather obscures rear vision, but some compromises had to be made to allow for the relatively large boot space.

The boot offers class-leading capacity: 245 litres compared to the Fiat's 185 litres and the Mini's shoe-box sized 125 litres. The opening isn't exactly large, but as long as you're carrying standard luggage or shopping this shouldn’t be an issue. The cover opens ingeniously, remaining roughly parallel to the back of the car all the way up, however the opening isn’t particularly practical to use: one finds oneself crouching to see what's going on while inserting or removing items. Like the Mini and Fiat, though, the rear seats are split/folding to allow for a significant amount more load space (and in the Citroën’s case 60/40 for added flexibility). When opening the boot with the roof fully retracted, it automatically slides up out of the way to allow the boot door to hinge up. Just a small example of the great logic we’ve come to admire on Citroëns over the years.

Options available include seven body colours, nine wheel options and three roof designs: Black, Infinite Blue or Moondust Grey DS Monogramme. Blue is particularly attractive with a weave of three threads in the canvas which react differently to the light. The monogramme is clearly going for the LV look and actually isn’t far shy of the mark. Inside, new upholstery choices are available and colour-coded accents abound with seven different themes available. Ambient lighting is white LED and the elegant instrument panel is carried over from the standard DS3.

The new DS3 Cabrio is an extremely capable, stylish and attractive car, with the advantage of increased practicality over its rivals in terms of boot space, the ability to carry an extra passenger and the smooth and simple operation of the roof, particularly if the weather takes you by surprise while you’re unable to stop. There's no doubt this is going to give the Mini and Fiat a strong run for their money, and if that extra capacity is a deal-breaker it's the only choice, and one you certainly won’t be disappointed with.

Photography by Olgun Kordal

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