DS3 goes topless, almost

As you will see if you look back at my road test of the Citroen DS3, I was quite taken with the French manufacturers attempt to imbue their small hatchback with some of the style and individuality that marked out the avant garde Citroen DS.

The purpose of my re-acquaintance with the DS3 was to try the latest version – the DS3 Cabrio. Even the way that Citroen has chosen to take the top of their little hatch has a strong link with Citroen heritage.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio

Those of you old enough to remember the Citroen 2CV, or its slightly more modern sibling the Dyane, will remember that the roof rolled back, leaving the complete door structure and roof rails in place. So it really was just the top and the rear window that could be dropped to let the sun shine in.

Although the roof on the DS3 is streets ahead in that it slides back smoothly and effortlessly at the touch of a button, the basic architecture of the open roof is similar.

This summer has been good for convertibles, so it was with a spring in my step that I grabbed the keys and ventured out to drive. I remember liking the DS3 and the combination of its cheeky charm and the open air motoring experience seemed certain to please.

With door and roof rails in place, you arguably don’t get the full ‘open-car’ sensation but, on a fine day you can still experience most of the joy of open top motoring in the DS3. The cunning little wind deflector that pops up when you slide the roof back really does reduce buffeting and make for a more pleasant open-top experience.

One of the benefits of the slide back roof is that you can treat this rather like a gigantic sunroof and roll it back, leaving the rear window in place. In reality this is probably the best option when you are using the Citroen DS3 Cabriolet around town.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio

You’ll find out why if you press the “roof down” button a second time and then try to reverse into a confined parking spot. With the roof folded completely down, the piled up rear window and roof sections mean there is virtually no visibility straight out the back. Not surprising, then, that rear parking sensors are standard across the DS3 Cabrio range!

This makes the ‘roof full down’ mode really only an option on the open road and, even then, I felt uncomfortable having to rely on my door mirrors to see traffic behind.

The other sacrifice to practicality is the boot. Not that it is shoddy in its size, being only some 40 litres smaller than the hatchback at 240-litres., But, access to it is limited to a rather large “letterbox” boot lid. Large boxy items would be difficult (or impossible) to thread through that hole, leaving you with no option but to drop the rear seats and load bigger items from inside the car.

The only other downside is really a matter of getting used to the very slight, but controlled body shake that comes as a result of removal of fixed roof panels. It is noticeable on low-speed corrugated road surfaces, but soon forgotten.

There are five models in the Citroen DS3 Cabrio range, from the DSign VTI 82 at £15,205 through to the DSport THP 155 at £19,840. The numbers refer to the power output in bhp and it was the DSport THP 155 that I tested.

This engine really suits the DS3 and roof up, or down, I found it a delight to drive on country roads. It sits squarely on the road with its slightly firm suspension, but it can be placed with some precision thanks to that sporting firmness combined with good, precise steering.

The 155 bhp give the DS3 a good turn of speed when you want it. Acceleration 0-62 mph takes 8.2 seconds, with a top speed of 132 mph.

The combined fuel consumption figure is 47.9 mpg, but my real-life average in town and country driving was a little over 30mpg. Most owners would be able to better that as I have to admit I was driving the DS3 with some verve – something that indicated how much I was enjoying the experience. Carbon dioxide emissions are 137 g/km putting the DS3 DSport THP 155 into band E for UK car tax.

So, the bottom line is that the Citroen DS3 can now cater for open-air motoring fans.

Yes, there are a couple of practicality issues with rear visibility and boot access, But, if you can live with these, the Citroen DS3 Cabriolet could well be a great and reasonably-priced option for the fresh air enthusiast.
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