Citroen has further expanded its DS offering with the introduction of the DS3 Cabrio and we got the chance to drive the range-topping version at the local launch to see what this striking soft-top is all about.
I’ve always thought that the DS3 is one of the better looking superminis (Mini, Fiat 500) and the Cabrio, with its Landaulet-style roof (offered in black, infini blue and DS monogramme), really makes a statement. While the overall shape is not that far-removed from the regular DS3 hatchback, Citroen has added some new detailing in the guise of 3D-effect LED lights at the rear and a chrome-finished handle at the back of the car. If you’ve sat inside recent Citroen products, the cabin of the DS3 will be a familiar place. It feels upmarket and can be personalised to suit the tastes of the owner with different seat options and colour-coded air-vent surrounds and gear levers.
Let’s kick it off with the most important part of a cabriolet – the roof, or lack thereof. In this instance, Citroen has taken a page from Mini and Fiat’s book and has kept the B- and C-pillars of the hatchback (for better rigidity) and has given its DS3 Cabrio a canvas folding roof that, when completely open, sits in a concertina-like manner behind the heads of rear-seat passengers. The disadvantage of this type of roof is that it seriously impairs rear visability when it’s open and occupants get less of a cabrio and more of a massive sunroof feel. Also, while the roof not folding into the boot frees up some space and allows the DS3 cabrio to offer 245 dm3 of luggage capacity, the way the boot opens, flush with the rear end of the car, means that the opening is more of a letterbox and items will need to be slotted into the boot instead of dropping things into the boot. That said, it does come with its advantages as well. The vehicle is more rigid than a conventional cabriolet arrangement and the roof can be operated at higher speeds – up to 120 km/h to be exact – and it takes 16 seconds to fully close.
The roof has three opening positions – intermediate, horizontal and total. The total is, well, totally open. The intermediate setting gives the feel of a sunroof opening over the front occupants heads, while the horizontal setting means that the roof stops just above the rear passengers and it doesn’t impact on rearward visibility.
There’s an aerodynamic deflector net just at the front of the roof opening. Citroen claims that this deflects air currents and prevents air buffering. I found that, especially at higher speeds, this deflector creates a lot of wind noise.
What’s it like to drive?
The 1,6-litre turbocharged unit delivers 115 kW and 240 N.m of torque. Mated with a six-speed manual transmission, the DS3 Cabrio felt zippy in and around urban areas and became a good cruiser on the open highway. The torque is available from 1 400 r/min, so quick overtaking in low gears was not a chore.
Dynamically, the DS3 Cabrio is not on par with the likes of the Mini. The steering is vague and a light touch on the brakes makes the DS3 Cabrio want to bog down. However, I have to admit the gearbox is better than ‘boxes experienced in other recent Citroen models and the ride is well damped, although it does get a bit jumpy over mid-corner bumps when pressing on.
This engine returns a claimed fuel consumption of 5,8 litres/100 km and has a CO2 emissions figure of 5,8 litres/100 km.
Features and packages
In this car’s Sport specification the standard features include an audio system with CD, MP3 and USB compatibility, ABS with EBD, driver, passenger, front lateral and curtain airbags, Isofix anchorages, cruise control, satellite controls for the audio system, central locking and an alarm system. Choosing from various pre-made packages will allow owners to add more features to their DS3. As with the hatchback, there are packages available that allow you to personalise and customise the interior and exterior of the car.
Although its not overtly sporty, the DS3 Cabrio is still a fun car to drive. In my opinion, the folding roof makes it a bit more funky than its hatchback sibling. It’s not as dynamically capable as the Mini, but it’s certainly a lot more comfortable to drive on a daily basis. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but you have to pay the price if you want a good-looking and fashionable accessory.
Price: R291 900
Model: DS3 155 THP Sport
Engine: 1,6-litre turbocharged
Power: 115 kw @ 6 000 r/min
Torque: 240 N.m @ 1 400 r/min
0-100 km/h**: 7,3 seconds
Top speed**: 214 km/h
Fuel consumption: 5,8 litres/100 km
C02 emissions: 135 g/km