As open cars go, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio isn’t the most committed thing, but instead pursues compromise with some determination.
The folding fabric section of the roof leaves all of the side pillars in place so you still get the DS3’s sharky silhouette with a modicum of soft top feel. It’ll appeal to those who think they might like a soft top sometimes. A little bit.
You’ll search in vain for a diesel DS3 Cabrio as Citroen are only offering petrol motors, for the time being at least. The entry-level unit is an 82bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre, which is fine for schlepping about town but most will be drawn to the bigger 1.6-litre engines. The 120bhp 1.6 VTi engine looks set to be the most popular, as it offers a great compromise between economy and performance, but the 156bhp THP turbocharged unit really is the jewel in this line-up and well worth saving for if you like a bit of zest.
That’s enough to take it through 60mph in around 7.5s and on to a top speed of over 130mph. Like the best of the modern turbo petrols, there’s barely a hint of turbo lag with the performance surging forth from low revs. The gearbox is the slickest unit Citroen has come up with for a long time, with excellent weighting and a positive feel to the shifting action. Although the driving position may not suit everyone, the DS3 Cabrio’s inherent rigidity means that it doesn’t lose a great deal to its had top sibling in terms of handling ability - and the roof adds just 25kg to its weight. Wind buffeting can usually be overcome by adjusting the position of the fabric roof slightly. It’s very flexible – in that regard at least.
Perhaps calling this car a ‘cabrio’ is going a bit far. If we were being entirely truthful, it’s a DS3 with a giant fabric sunroof that slides back into a rather ungainly concertina. Still, what it lacks in engineering boldness it makes up for in ease of use and even a degree of practicality. This is the sort of car that many buyers in this country want and here’s why. We don’t get to drop the tops too often in a country where it can rain for 200 days a year. Therefore it doesn’t really make much sense lugging around a 200kg folding hard top roof for the rest of the time. The DS3 Cabrio represents an elegant solution that retains most of the character and style of the hatchback model it’s based on.