ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport THP 155 – A great looking car which is good to drive now comes as a convertible. DAVID HOOPER is impressed with the clever DS3 Cabrio
CITROEN’S DS3 has been a real success story for the French carmaker – you see them all the time on our roads, but then, they are hard to miss with their signature row of vertical LEDs on each corner of the front bumper.
This week’s test car is the latest to join the range, the new cabriolet model, which for once, arrived with a bit of sunshine. Usually when I get a convertible car on test, it rains, or it’s winter, but with this one, I actually got it right.
I think it looks superb, smart, modern, and with brilliant white paintwork, matching wheels and a contrasting cloth roof, it certainly looks the part.
Inside, the colour-co-ordinated theme continues, with blue leather upholstery, which costs £850 on the options list, and a matching blue finished dashboard, which costs another £150, but I think is worth every penny.
There are seats for five, but of course the main feature of this DS3 is its full-length sunroof. It can be opened fully at the touch of a button, or partially, by stopping the roof a quarter, half-way or wherever you wish really, with the cloth roof neatly folding itself into pleats.
To get the full convertible effect, an extra push of the button will prompt the rear window to fold itself down and the roof retract all the way back, but due to the limitations of the engineering, with the roof in its fully retracted position, it effectively replaces the area where the rear window would normally be, which means that, from inside the car, the view through the rear-view mirror is totally obscured, leaving the driver to rely entirely on the door mirrors.
Citroen have been quite clever in opting for this design and in so doing have avoided many of the complications that go hand-in-hand with taking the roof off a car. Having left the edges of the roof and effectively only removing the central panel, they have managed to retain much of the car’s structure, which has retained the majority of the body’s rigidity.
With the chassis having retained most of the hatchback body’s structure and stiffness, it still handles well, although you can see the glass rear window vibrating on bumpy road surfaces, and if the car is driven hard on poor road surfaces, there is still some scuttle shake and body flexing in evidence.
The usual hatchback style of the DS3 has been sacrificed for the sun worshipping buyers of this model. Instead, there is now a relatively small boot of 245 litres, the entrance to which resembles a letterbox. The boot “lid” lifts up to allow access, and if the roof is folded down, it will automatically partially close itself to allow access – all clever stuff.
The boot may not be overly generous in size, but compared to some cars with solid roofs which fold into the bootspace, there is more usable space in this car.
My DS3 came with the potent 1.6-litre turbo-charged engine, which offers lively performance, and is capable of impressive economy when driven gently. During my test, the car returned 41.4mpg on average, over a distance of 324 miles, yet is capable of getting from rest to 62mph in 8.2 and has a top speed of 132mph.
The parking sensors were also useful, particularly at the back of the car, with its restricted rear vision.
The DS3 Cabrio won’t be everyone’s cup of tea because of the way the roof retracts, so before you buy one, make sure you retract it fully and make sure you can live without your rear view mirror.
If you can, I think you will love the car – so long as you don’t do too much shopping!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport THP 155.
CITROEN DS3 CABRIO RANGE: From DSign VTi 82 3dr (£15,205) to DSport THP 155 3dr (£19,840).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 155bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 132mph. 0-62mph in 8.2 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 35.3mpg.
Fuel tank: 48 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 137g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 23.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.