French carmaker Citroen has taken the top off its popular DS3 hatchback and I’ve spent a week with the top-of-the-range derivative. The Citroen DS3 Cabrio is a car particularly close to my heart as the launch of the hardtop was the first launch I ever attended. The fact that the DS3 hatch is actually a damn good car makes the memory even sweeter.
The Citroen DS3 Cabrio THP155 Review by David Taylor
The DS3 Cabriolet DesignThe Citroen DS3 Cabrio is not a true cabriolet, as it still retains the B-pillars so you can think of it as a giant sunroof. The roof is made from canvas yet looks strong and durable. The bonus with this particular roof is you’re able to open and close it at any speed. Most other convertibles require a complete stop, or crawl speed, to operate the roof. And again, unlike most convertible roofs, which fold neatly into the boot, this roof instead folds up and back. The downside of extending the roof all the way down means your rear visibility is obstructed. Thankfully, the side mirrors are reasonably large enough to cover for the now useless rearview mirror.
Engine and PerformanceI was in the high-spec THP155 version, which features a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This motor is aimed at the enthusiast and promises much in terms of overtaking ability and fun factor. It also happens to sound quite aggressive too, with numerous pops and whistles coming from the exhaust and turbo while accelerating. On paper it has 115kW and 240Nm which are decent numbers. It’s reasonably efficient too, with the trip computer reading 8.1L/100km with the majority of the driving done in urban areas.
The DS3's Ride and handlingMany convertibles can become rattle boxes due to the lack of a hard roof. The roof is an integral part of vehicle rigidity and convertibles tend to flex around a bit. This doesn’t really happen in the Citroen DS3 Cabrio and the sporty characteristics from its hard-topped cousin are still there. This means you’re driving a bit of a grown-up go kart, which is rather entertaining. The power is strong and with the action of the solid six-speed gearbox, driving the DS3 is involving.
Interior Design and FeaturesIf there’s one thing Citroen does really well, its interior design. The DS3’s cabin in particular is exquisite and the attention to detail is wonderful. The steering wheel looks like it’s from a spaceship. With an extensive glossy carbon fibre dashboard, with integrated satellite navigation screen, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio looks very plush. Speaking of satellite navigation, while there’s nothing wrong with its ability, the actual controls and interface are poorly designed. To type an address into the GPS takes far longer than it should, surprising considering the older brother DS5’s system works well.
The DS3 can be personalised quite extensively. From the colour of the roof, the wheels, the interior trim and even the key, there’s a great chance you won’t see two Citroen DS3s, which are the same.
Standard specification for the THP155 model is substantial. There’s cruise control and radio controls which are neatly tucked behind the steering wheel. You get automatic air-conditioning with a built-in pollen filter, hands-free Bluetooth as well as a USB port for charging and connectivity. It’s rather safe too, with ABS brakes, ESP and six airbags.
Interior spaceThe boot size has had to be reduced, thanks to the roof mechanism and what you get resembles a giant glove box at the back. It’s not the best if you’re intending to carry large suitcases, but for those little weekends away the boot will take two tog bags with ease. The DS3 does feature rear seats, but tall people in the front will result in the back becoming an extra storage area.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio - ConclusionWhen compared to its rivals with their hefty pricetags, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio actually makes a good case for itself. It combines zesty performance with a healthy dollop of French style. While some may worry about the dreaded unreliable French car cliché, it’s interesting to note the engine is the same as the MINI Cooper S’ unit. It’s a fast, funky and stylish vehicle, the only downside of which is it’s a bit of a girl’s car. I still would though.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio - PriceCitroen DS3 Cabrio THP155 - R291 900
- Why you should: Stylish vehicle, turns heads, exceptional performance.
- Why you shouldn’t: A bit feminine, a little thirsty when driven hard, fussy satnav interface.
- It would be better if: the GPS interface was improved, roof didn’t obstruct rear visibility.
- View the vehicle: New Citroen DS3 / Used Citroen DS3
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