Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport | Drive Review

Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport | Drive Review

Article and Images - Peter Anderson

MyDrive | Citroen Australia > The Citroen DS3 Cabrio is a curious thing. It’s kind of a halfway house between a roll-top desk and a proper convertible, but has the heart of a hot hatch and runway looks.

Naturally, the confustion doesn’t stop there. The C3-based car has a C3-based interior, which looks good but has a few maddening flaws.

It’s a car you probably wouldn’t want to buy based on an introduction like that. But the French do small cars a bit differently, so you have to suspend your brain for a bit and let your heart take over.

Do the DS3′s charms overpower its faults, or is this a car best left alone?

VALUE

The DS3 DSport Cabriolet sits at the top of a surprisingly complete range for one that sells so few. The range starts at $25,240 for the DSIGN, a sparsely appointed 1.6 litre hatchback. The hardtop 1.6 litre turbo DSport lines up at $30,990 and the Cabriolet finishes off at $32,990.

Inside you’ll find a sat-nav voiced by a softly-spoken Welsh lady, a terribly laid-out stereo and a climate control system. The steering wheel has a pair of paddles hidden out of sight for stereo remote controls and cruise control.

The standard cloth interior can be upgraded with a $2000 leather option (!) and reversig sensors – which you really would want in this car – are another $500. You have to be $800 for any colour other than white, too, which is a bit rude.

In its class it does stand on its own as a convertible, but is significantly pricier than the newer, better equipped 208 GTI, RenaultSport Clio and Fiesta ST. With the canvas roof, its only logical competitor is the Mini Cabrio, which is a stout $10,000 more, or nearly $20,000 if you want the turbo-powered Cooper S (which has more power, incidentally).

DESIGN

The distinctive DS3 has weathered extremely well in the design stakes, especially given it first came to light almost five years ago. A chunky little wedge of a car, it looks terrific in the yellow of our test unit, something no car has any right to achieve.

The black 17-inch alloys look great too, and the overwhelming sense of the car is one of detail and proportion. Look at the three dimensional taillights and you’ll see a DS3 logo buried in the plastic. The front stacked LED daytime running lights give the car a strong, wide stance and with the roof closed, you have to look twice to make sure it’s not the hardtop.

Inside is a blatantly tarted-up C3 interior, which is not a bad thing. Key changes stretch to the materials and a very good pair of front seats. The centre stack is virtually identical, as is the steering wheel. You get different dials in the DS3, though.

The canvas roof slides back in two stages and a third stage jams it down, robbing you of any rearward visibility and making the car look like an Emmaljunga pram with its bonnet stowed, but not as bad as the Mini Cabrio.

SAFETY

TECHNOLOGY

The DSport is powered by the familiar 1.6 litre turbo from a range of PSA and MINIs.

In the DS3 it produces 115kW and 340Nm which will whisk you and your cargo to 100km/h in a little over 7 seconds. Unfortunately – or in Citroen’s case, thankfully – the DS3 is a six-speed manual only. This is a good thing because all Citroen has in the automatic basket is the awful, wheezy four-speed automatic that would blunt the performance of almost any engine on the planet.

It’s not especially frugal either – Citroen claims 6.0 litres in the combined cycle but we didn’t see that at all. Nowhere near it.

DRIVING

This is where it gets good. The DS3 is a barrel of laughs on the road. While not the quickest hot hatch on the market, it rides and handles with a lot of character. You can really chuck this little Cit around and if you keep it on boost, it will get along pretty quickly.

Roof down things soften up a little, but it never becomes a concern even if you’re leaning on the chassis.

Dial it back, though, and the DS3 rides almost as well as its non-DSport and C3 sisters. This is more impressive given the bigger wheels and tyres, the stubby wheelbase and firmer dampers.

It’s not award-winning but will keep you grinning long after the brakes and engine stop ticking. Like most convertibles, this is two cars in one. Unlike other convertibles, the only interior space you might compromise is the boot – dedicated roadsters aside, this is one convertible that will fit the same number of people as the car on which its based.

VERDICT

What is it about the DS3, that despite all the flaws it has, makes you want to own one? It’s fun. And it’s cheaper fun than the similar Mini Cabrio.

Drivers will enjoy the strong engine that makes you work the gearbox, others will enjoy the smiles and waves from other road users – yes, really. It’s a cheery car that nails a sporty character with a happy vibe, adding French chassis flair that we thought they’d forgotten along with a dramatic exterior.

In the absence of the DS3 Racing, it’s probably the best Citroen on the market in Australia.

For details on Citroen Australia, click > www.citroen.com.au

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