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  • Value; cabin presentation; DSport\'s versatile turbo engine; agile handling; boot size; folding rear seats
  • DStyle\'s four-speed auto; busy ride; small boot opening; unsupportive driver\'s seat; roof-down visibility; not a proper convertible

OUR RATING
7 / 10



Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review

The Citroen DS3 Cabrio reintroduces the option of open-air motoring to the French car maker’s line-up.

The DS3 Cabrio is Citroen’s first convertible since the removable-roofed C3 Pluriel was discontinued in 2010, and arrives three years after the DS3 hatch lobbed.

At $30,990 for the DStyle auto and $32,990 for the DSport manual, a $3250 premium over the three-door hatch, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio splits the middle between its key pint-sized drop-top rivals; including the smaller Fiat 500C ($17,900-$25,650) and the pricier Mini Cooper Cabrio (from $40,350).

Like the little Fiat but unlike the Cooper and every other convertible on the market, the DS3 Cabrio features fixed side panels identical to the hatchback, with the concertina-style canvas roof contracting and expanding in the place of the standard roof panel.

It’s a cheaper and less complex construction to develop and produce than a full-blown convertible roof, though with the side panels intact it doesn’t quite deliver the same liberating sense of airiness and freedom.

The electrically folding roof can rest in three positions: partially open over the heads of the front passengers; open over all five seating positions with the glass rear window in place; and fully open with the rear windscreen and roof stacked above the boot. Rear-view mirror visibility is almost entirely inhibited in this third position, however.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review

The design of the tailgate and boot is smarter; the former’s compact flip-up opening mechanism making it perfect for parking in tight spaces, while the latter retains the volume of the hatchback (245L) as well as its 60:40 split-fold rear seats. A tiny opening restricts access to the boot, however, making loading in suitcases and shopping bags awkward.

At 1208-1231kg, the Cabrio is just 25kg heavier than the fixed-roof model, ensuring minimal extra strain on the two available drivetrains.

First is the Citroen DS3 DStyle Cabrio, which features a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 88kW of power at 6000rpm and 160Nm of torque at 4250rpm. It’s a modest but capable performer, though is done few favours by the dated four-speed automatic transmission that is its sole companion in local spec.

The auto is forced to hold gears longer than feels comfortable under steady acceleration. Downshifts send revs flaring, though the refined engine never sounds thrashy, even on the approach to 6000rpm, and its note is well insulated from the cabin.

Citroen lists its combined cycle fuel consumption at 6.7 litres per 100km, and we managed 8.2L/100km at the DS3 Cabrio’s Gold Coast launch that included a mix of city, suburban and winding mountain roads.

The DS3 DStyle Cabrio is the model for those who can’t drive a manual or who need the cheapest one they can get their hands on.

For all others, the DS3 DSport is a no-brainer in the Cabrio line-up.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review

The DSport features a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 115kW and 240Nm, the latter produced between a highly usable 1400-4000rpm range. It is paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission that feels smooth in your hand and clicks satisfyingly into gear.

With 50 per cent more torque, it’s significantly punchier than the DStyle, and while it won’t scare any serious city-sized hot-hatches, it’s a versatile unit that surges encouragingly from well below 2000rpm and remains polished at higher revs. There’s also a brawnier sound from the engine and a deeper note from its dual-outlet exhaust system.

Despite being more powerful, the manual gearbox helps keep fuel consumption to 5.9L/100km, a claim we almost matched at the launch with our recorded 6.0L/100km average (though this time heading down the mountain rather than up).

The turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission alone justify the $2000 premium for the DSport over the DStyle, though the addition of satellite navigation, an upgraded audio system and larger 17-inch black alloy wheels also make it the obvious value choice of the pair.

Those bigger alloys (the DStyle gets 16s) do the DSport few favours from a ride perspective, however, which is firmer and fussier than the already busy base model and transfers more vibration into the cabin. While decent on good quality surfaces common to city and suburban driving, both model grades jiggle over rougher roads and meet harsher potholes and surface joins abruptly.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review

The steering likewise performs best in the city, where it’s light and effortless, but is let down by a vague feeling around the straight-ahead position.

While it can’t match the Mini for handling, the DS3 Cabrio feels light and agile, sits reasonably flat through corners, and is largely free from the chassis instability and scuttle shake that plagues some convertibles.

All three pedals are curiously set at different heights, and the combination of their varied positioning and the short base of the driver’s seat means many behind the wheel will find their knees floating and wanting for more under-thigh support. The side bolstering of the seat base may also make it a tight squeeze for bigger-boned drivers.

The interior has a premium look and feel, however. Polished metal, piano black and carbonfibre-look surfaces make it stand out from most in the city-car class, and there’s also a nice tactility to buttons and dials. The steering wheel is free of controls, with Citroen preferring to fit stalks operating cruise control, audio and phone functions behind the wheel.

While the boot is big, the cabin isn’t as generous with its storage options, lacking a lidded centre console and offering only small door bins and a tiny glovebox.

The DS3 is well equipped overall, however, coming standard with LED daytime running lights and front fog lights, rear parking sensors, climate control leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium pedals, AUX/USB inputs and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review

Adding peace of mind is Citroen’s fixed-price servicing program, which caps the cost of the first three services (completed at 12-month/20,000km intervals) at $360.

Citroen Australia has secured 90 DS3 Cabrios for the remainder of 2013, and unsurprisingly expects more than 60 per cent of customers to opt for the DSport, which is the sweet spot from a value and performance perspective.

While it has limitations in terms of dynamics and practicality, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio is $10K cheaper than the Mini Cooper Cabrio, and as such is an attractive option in the niche convertible city-car segment.


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CITROEN DS3 BREAKDOWN

Citroen DS3 Cabrio Review
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  • JJJ

    Such a fun and funky car. Quick question: does this model have the 3D-effect tail lights?

    • Sonic

      Looks like it does. They are designed very differently from the older tail lights.

  • crouchy35

    Remind me again why this is better than a panoramic sunroof?

Citroen Ds3 Specs

DSPORT : 1.6L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 2D CABRIOLET
Car Details
Make
CITROEN
Model
DS3
Variant
DSPORT
Series
MY13
Year
2013
Body Type
2D CABRIOLET
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
240Nm @  1400rpm
Max. Power
115kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
93.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
77x85.8mm
Compression Ratio
10.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
50
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
5.9L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1231
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1483mm
Length
3948mm
Width
1715mm
Ground Clearance
126mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:900  Unbrake:570
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.4
Front Rim Size
7x17
Rear Rim Size
7x17
Front Tyres
205/45 R17
Rear Tyres
205/45 R17
Wheel Base
2464
Front Track
1468
Rear Track
1471
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 7 Speakers
Exterior
Electric Top, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Interior
Leather Upholstery
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-H-10
Country of Origin
FRANCE