Citroen’s smart soft-top a little ray of sunshine

Citroen DS3 Cabrio can go topless or raise the roof at speeds up to 75mph.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio can go topless or raise the roof at speeds up to 75mph. - Credit: Cittroen

Citroen's new DS3 Cabrio is a quick operator when it comes to catching some summer rays of sunshine, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

We love convertibles in the UK – unfortunately our weather doesn't always take a shine to soft-tops so to get the roof down at every opportunity you need something quick and easy to operate.

They don't come much quicker than Citroen's new DS3 Cabrio with an electric fully-retractable quality canvas roof which opens and closes in 16 seconds at up to 75mph.

So if you are driving al fresco and the heavens open or you have the roof up and the sun comes out there's no hunting for a parking space or slowing to operate the roof – just press the button above the windscreen... job done!

The roof on the DS3 Cabrio, like the Fiat 500C, is more of a full-length sunroof with the side windows and door frames remaining in place, rather than a full-blown convertible such as the MINI, another key rival.

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The DS3 Cabrio's roof has three positions – the front part alone opened, the horizontal roof section folded back or totally opened when the rear screen folds down too which leaves you unable to see anything in the rearview mirror but thankfully all models get rear parking sensors.

There's pros and cons of such a roof design.

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You don't get as much wind buffeting at speed as a conventional convertible because the side frames remain in place but my wife, who drives a MINI Convertible, missed the total open-air experience and noticed some turbulence around the door frames at speed.

The other benefit of the DS3 Cabrio's design is that the fixed door frames retain a big part of the body structure integrity so this cabriolet needs less reinforcing to make up for the loss of the whole roof so is just 25kg heavier than the DS3 hatchback – typically convertibles gain around 100kg.

That body rigidity and lightness pay dividends in the way it drives. It gives little away to the acclaimed DS3 hatch when it comes to ride and roadholding – firm but well damped and agile through twists and turns.

The all-petrol range comprises 82hp 1.2-litre DSign, 120hp 1.6-litre DStyle and 155hp 1.6-litre turbo DSport. The latter combines smooth, low-down flexibility with potent top-end punch making it easy and fun to drive with a pleasing 40mpg overall.

The DS3 Cabrio is the only five-seater in its class, although three in the back is a squeeze and, roof up, six-footers will find headroom at a premium but legroom is adequate if those up front move forward a bit.

It also boasts the biggest boot in its class at 245 litres with a clever lid that rises up parallel with the back screen. The problem is the opening is only 66cm wide and 27cm deep so despite the boot being spacious, access is tight. Fold the 60/40 rear seat backs down and you've got more chance of getting large items in.

The DS3 has a classy cabin and an attractive, well-designed dashboard with lots of gloss black trim and brightwork on my DSport test car. Equipment levels are strong on all three models.

The DS3 is a good-looking cabriolet, roof up or down, and while the less compromised open-air motoring makes it convenient and comfortable.

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