★★★ | Citroen DS3 Cabrio
The DS range of Citroens are the more Avantgarde models and a welcome return from a manufacturer rich in a history of innovation and design. It’s also a car maker that gave us the 2CV, widely futuristic dashboards and the subliminal grand tourer with the SM. So they know a few things about cars.
Though largely forgotten, Citroen have at one point or another offered the motorist open top fun. The 2CV and Dyane were cheap open top motoring. The short-lived 4 door Visa decapotable with its unique pram type hood. And the Plurial that was a bit of a hash job with its removable sides that had nowhere to go so you never took them off. The DS 3 is the smallest offering in this DS range and the Cabrio adds some open top fun to an already accomplished car but does it make it any better?
The answer to that is no. It actually makes the DS 3 worse. What you need to realise is that with any open top car there is always a pay off that must be accepted for the fun a missing roof will give you.
In this case it’s the boot. The opening is hopeless. I for one did not expect it to lift upwards. In doing so it covers up an already small hole. The boot area itself is quite large, deep and cavernous. It’s just that you can’t actually get to it. Should the boot lid drop downward then it would solve at least half these problems.
And there lays the problem with the DS3 cabrio over its hatchback sibling. For an extra £2000 you get a boot that you can’t use. What you do get though is an electric roof that pretty much works on a one-touch system that when open causes no buffeting. Fully open (rear window gone, followed by rearward vision also) you get a gentle breeze over your shoulders and long hair gently tussled. Yes, the rearward vision is blighted when the top is completely retracted. At first I thought this would be a problem. However with a little tug and wiggle of the finger the door mirrors can be angled to pretty much rectify this and the model I had here came equipped with a reversing camera.
All in all then it’s pretty much shaping up to be what every car with a removable top is like except this cabrio retains the sides. In essence that means it isn’t a full convertible. It also means there is no scuttle shake felt through the steering wheel thus adding to the already solid feel of the Citroen. Another thing those side do is add a little security. You can feel incredibly exposed in a full cabriolet.
The insides of the DS 3 are above par for this kind of car. It’s all well put together. The materials chosen are tactile and the dashboard has a feel that makes you want to squeeze it. However in this model it comes with a gaudy strip across the dashboard in what looks like really cheap carbon fibre you’d find someone sticking on their 1991 Vauxhall Corsa. Check out Citroen’s option packs and spec sheets. This can be rectified. It absolutely ruins an otherwise nice interior. Thankfully this is a £150 cost option so you don’t need to have it.
Everything works as it should on the move. The clutch is light and the gear change direct. Strangely more so than in the 208GTi Sport I tested a month or so ago. In total it felt more fluid. What wasn’t quite so fluid in its execution was the ride. Where I had praised the Citroen C3 hatchback for being fantastic in its ride and handling, the DS 3 can’t match it. It rides a little to harsh for me. It also makes the handling a little skittish when pushed hard.
The engine on the other hand is from the PSA award winning range of power packs. So smooth in its operation that you could be confused into thinking this is more than a 4 cylinder. It’s easy to live with and the 1598cc engine delivers its 165bhp with little effort. Sometimes you feel that 165 horses just isn’t enough. You feel the DS3 needs more urge. It’s only when you look at your speed do you then realise that you need to back off a little.
With the roof folded back it is quite cosy. The heater and its many vents positioned to keep you warm even on the cold days. You can select to have the roof back as far as you’d like. Quite pointless if I am honest. You’ll probably find that you will have it as far as it will go on most days. With the roof up it cosseted you with the exact same feeling you would have with a hatchback. I’ll come clean though and say that apart from at night when I parked it up, l had the roof open as much as I could. You don’t buy a car like this to keep the roof up yet we Brits seem to do just that.
The week was over, the DS3 had to go back. From the Citroens I had in my motoring career (and there have been a fair few) Citroen isn’t what it use to be.
Twangy doors and creaky trim are a distant memory. Build quality is up there. Some of it felt better than the Germans. I liked the DS3. I could live with the challenges it possesses but it would have to be as a second car. It’s too flawed in its everyday areas to warrant me to trade in my old nail.
Little buffeting with the roof open
Carbon fibre dashboard trim
Infotainment system difficult to see with the roof open
Car – Citroen DS3 Cabrio THP 165
Price – £23,340 (as tested)
MPG – 50.4mpg (combined)
Power – 165 bhp 6000 rpm
0-62mph – 7.6 seconds
Top Speed – 135 mph
Co2 – 129 (g/km)
Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It’s a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive.
Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old.
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Member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers. (SGMW)