Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Last updated on November 15th, 2015 at 12:08 pm
Since production of the DS3 started in March of 2010, Citroën have produced over 300,000 subsequent cars. A runaway success, it has helped inject a new lease of life across the Citroën brand, leading to a host of well-deserved accolades (we personally loved the DS3 Racing). As such, it was only a matter of time before Citroën decided to diversify and expand their DS3 range to capitalise on these triumphs. The first iteration of this evolution comes in the form of the DS3 Cabrio, available just in time for the approaching European ‘summer‘ and to battle rivals such as the Mini Convertible and Fiat 500C. At launch the Cabrio will be offered with a choice of three petrol engines – the VTi 82, VTi 120 and THP 155 that can then be coupled with three levels of trim – the DSign, DStyle and DSport.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Exterior
At first glance the DS3 Cabrio is remarkably similar in looks to its hard topped sibling. Citroën have opted not to redesign the DS3 as a full cabriolet but have opted for a ‘sardine tin’ style roof, in a similar vein to the Fiat 500. While this means that you don’t get the full ‘top down’ experience, with the front and rear pillars still very much in place, it does have its advantages. Citroën claim to have retained almost 100% percent of the chassis rigidity and have managed to keep the weight increase down to a mere 25kg. Most impressively, it means the DS3 Cabrio’s retractable roof is a simple delight, with one push of a button seeing it disappear seamlessly in a mere 16 seconds at speeds of anywhere up to 75mph. The more enclosed environment also means that noise insulation and wind buffeting is kept to an acceptable level at any speeds below 70mph, especially when the additional air deflector deployed. The only real gripe concerning the roof would be that at one its programmed positions it completely obscures any rearward vision leaving the driver to rely solely on the included parking sensors.
Elsewhere around the car there are a few minor design tweaks to distinguish the Cabrio including the newly designed LED rear light assembly, which creates an infinite ‘tunnel’ effect and adds a feeling of bespoke design to the model. As with the existing DS3 range there are endless options to customise your car, with various combinations of body colour, roof styles and alloys available.
DS3 Cabrio on the Road
We were lucky enough to test the DS3 Cabrio on both deserted mountain roads and in an urban setting. These juxtaposing settings served to highlight the positives and negatives of the Citroën’s performance on the road. When confronted with normal, everyday driving conditions the DS3 Cabrio is a delight, handling heavy traffic, city driving and motorway cruising with equal aplomb. Blessed with a brilliantly weighted clutch coupled with a gearbox that has a short and sharp throw without compromising on smoothness, the car is never a chore to drive and results in long drives being a relaxing experience not the usual grind. The 1.6 engine packs plenty of power, especially from 0-50mph, and avoids any truly noticeable lag from its turbo. The main issue is the gear ratios. The DSport THP 155 is equipped with a 6 speed gear box that at times seems somewhat unnecessary. You can easily be caught out in the wrong gear – yet if you’re buying a car with a turbo this is to be expected and at mid-range speeds the Citroën is reasonably comfortable with being slung into third and forth gear and responding without out too much trouble.
It is only when the DS3 Cabrio is pushed to its limits that any handling faults become truly apparent. When attacking twisty roads at speed the car is prone to suffering from noticeable bouts of body roll, reigning in any further sense of adventure despite the feeling that there’s plenty more grip in reserve. These scenarios also highlight the lack of steering feedback that is sometimes apparent – a more solid sense of directness from your input would be welcome. The brakes also take some time to get used to with plenty of travel in the pedal before they bite with gusto.
However, these aforementioned issues are merely minor quibbles as it is unlikely this car will be bought to enjoy on the limit, rather, as a relaxing cruiser around town. And as such the DS3 Cabrio excels. It can’t be overstated enough how much this car is a pleasure to drive from the off. You instantly feel at home. There are no peculiar quirks or issues that make you feel on edge. It is refreshing that Citroën have designed a car that makes everyday driving a pleasure and to executes it at a level that would embarrass cars twice the price.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Interior
As with the hard topped DS3 the interior is a delight. Citroën have recognised exactly where the money needs to be spent in order to create high quality surroundings. It is a combination of individual, stylish touches and functionality that avoids the feeling of cheapness or unnecessary quirkiness and, as with the driving experience, makes you feel at home immediately – with the cabin’s layout feeling completely natural. In the rear there is room for three. As is often the case it won’t be a comfortable fit but at least it’s a legitimate option to seat five unlike the Mini and Fiat 500C.
With 245 litres of boot space the DS3 Cabrio is again the class leader when compared to the Mini Convertible and Fiat 500C. However, this is negated somewhat by the narrow letterbox opening to the luggage space. Another quirk of the DS3 Cabrio is its boot opening mechanism with Citroën installing a door that moves out and then slides up. The logic behind this being the ability to open and load the boot space in confined spaces. Whether this is worth it is another question. In our experience it only really served to impede access to the already narrow boot space.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review Verdict
The DS3 Cabrio is an incredibly accomplished everyday performer with it satisfying in almost every department. Citroën’s decision to adapt rather than revolutionise their soft-top offering is in general a blessing. Despite this, there is also a nagging suspicion that you’re not getting the full cabriolet ‘experience’ and why should you penalise yourself with less space and a premium price to attempt to gain it? Perhaps this is a more personal opinion when it comes to the allure of soft-tops. However, if you are a fan of that top down feeling in the summer then you won’t be disappointed with the Citroën DS3 Cabrio. It squares up to its rivals admirably and yet while it perhaps lacks the fun of the Fiat and full cabriolet experience of the Mini it balances everyday usability with a fun drivability that we doubt will ever leave you dissatisfied.
At the most basic level the Cabrio will be priced at a little over £15,000, which in our opinion is pretty good value and real bang for your buck. Hitting our shores this spring, there is sure to be plenty of people having some summer fun in the new Citroën DS3 Cabrio.
Review Model Stats:
DSport THP 155, Price £19,600 (est); 0-62mph 7.4sec; Top speed 132mph; Economy 47.8mpg; CO2 137g/km; Kerb weight 1231kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbo, petrol; Power 154bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 177lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual.