Citroën raise the roof with the new DS3

 
Ryan Borroff
The drop top version of the French manufacturer’s DS3 is a credible alternative to the Mini Convertible and Fiat 500C

Citroën’s stylish little DS3 model has been a big seller in Europe. For some reason, despite being disappointed by the weather on about 350 days of each year, we still can’t resist the idea of cruising along in a drop top, hair flying back, as we pump out driving tunes at an unsociably loud volume. So, news that Citroën is introducing a drop top version of its glamorous DS3 in time for the summer will be met with enthusiasm by those who believe having wind in your hair should be an integral part of driving.

The French manufacturer launched the DS range in 2010. They were a set of stylish, ever-so-slightly blingy cars designed to draw in a younger, more glamorous, style-conscious customer who would otherwise buy a Mini or a Fiat 500; people who would not normally be attracted to the modern Citroën brand. It’s a move that has clearly paid off. Now Citroën has set out to offer a credible alternative to retro-styled rivals including the Mini Convertible and Fiat’s 500C.

One advantage the DS3 Cabrio has over its rivals is that it seats five in relative comfort. The real story, though, is the roof. Though it doesn’t have the full soft-top, folding roof of the equivalent Mini, it has a sliding one similar to the 500C. The advantage of this type of roof is that the car’s structure remains mostly intact, so the handling is essentially the same.

There are three roof settings; you can choose to have it open above your head – like a regular sunroof – or all the way back to the C-Pillar at the rear of the car. You can even slide it open right down to the rear parcel shelf. This is where the mechanism is cleverest. To open, the tailgate cantilevers up over the rear bodywork so that there’s no conflict with the roof and no compromise on space.

I was driving the quick and characterful range-topping DSport THP 155 model. The engine feels well suited to the car and it handles well. The 0-62mph acceleration time is a respectable 8.2 seconds and feels quick in the real world, open roof or not.

Inside it’s the same cool, contemporary and quirky aesthetic. For the money you pay, the interior of the DS3 feels well put together. Best of all, because there is no roof mechanism to encroach on the interior space or into the boot, it offers 245-litres of boot space, which is best in class. It’s the same stylish DS3 recipe you’ve come to expect but this version looks even better than the regular one. The way the roof slides, rather than folds, means there’s no negative impact on the exterior styling of the car and the purple roof of the test cars looked particularly good. As the DS3’s sliding electric roof operates at speeds of up to 70mph, you don’t need to slow down to close the roof even when speeding along the motorway, which is great if the weather suddenly worsens. The penalty you pay is that the wind noise with the roof fully open is significant. Unsurprisingly, the booming noise quickly becomes too much – I think it’s unlikely you’ll be opening or closing that roof at full pelt as often as you’d think.

THE FACTS:
CITROËN DS3 CABRIO

PRICE: £19,675
0-62MPH: 8.2 secs
TOP SPEED: 132mph
CO2 G/KM: 137g/km
MPG COMBINED: 47.9mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN Four stars
PERFORMANCE Four stars
PRACTICALITY Three stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Three stars