Topless Citroen adds touch of spice
By Bruce Booth
IF there’s a set of wheels that’s been especially created for 2013’s dedicated followers of fashion then it’s got to be the Citroen DS3 Cabrio soft-top.
Just one month into a new year and up pops this cherry which is likely to keep Citroen salesmen run off their feet well into the middle of this decade.
Sexy, sporty, sophisticated and superbly put together, this latest French fancy is geared up to take the already highly-successful DS range to an even higher level, with sales expected to top 10 per cent of all DS3 sales when it hits showrooms cum spring.
The new Cabrio stays faithful to the hatchback’s already cracking good looks and retains its older sibling’s bold styling from the “shark fin” door pillar to its sculped front end complete with LED light signatures.
However, designers have added more quirky features to the Cabrio to make it stand out even further.
To the rear, unique 3-D LED light clusters have been individual styled making the car easily recognisable in the dark.
Inspired from the car maker’s Revolte and Survolt concept vehicles, the central part of the light is made up of no fewer than 31 LEDs and semi-reflecting mirrors which reduce in size, cleverly giving the impression the light is disappearing into infinity.
To finish off the styling, a chrome DS logo is etched within the red plastic cluster’s surrounding design.
Up top is a fully-retractable, powered canvas roof which concertinas back from the top of the windscreen to the solid parcel shelf on top of the boot and can be fully opened or shut in 16 seconds or partly closed to any position in between by the push of a button.
An added bonus is that this can be done while on the move at speeds of up to 75mph.
Though not a fully-fledged convertible, it does mean that the car’s silhouette remains intact whatever the position of the roof.
To date, the majority of DS3 tin-top buyers have opted for a two-tone paint finish and with this in mind, Citroen is offering a choice of three canvas roof colours in blue, black and a brown on grey interwoven pattern complete with DS logo.
Seven body colours are available along with eight upholstery designs, so there’s plenty of choice for buyers to personalise their vehicle. Add seven alloy wheel designs, three engine choices and three distinct specification levels to the mix and the number of permatations for individuality becomes virtually limitless.
Slightly heavier than the DS3 hatchback, the Cabrio remains a five-seater and while luggage space is cut by 40 litres to 245 litres, it has still the biggest boot in its class.
There’s room for five inside the car and Citroen has retained the 60/40 split rear seat layout, unique for cars of this ilk.
Another quirky design cue, is that when opening the boot, the lid first pops outwards before sliding upwards, allowing it to operate in the tightest of spaces. However, the aperture itself is quite restricted, making bulkier items pretty much impossible to fit through.
Under the bonnet is the choice of a trio of power plants, two petrol – including a 1.2-litre three-cylinder offering – and a 156bhp 1.6-litre diesel.
The one I tried was kitted out with the 1.6-litre VTi 120bhp petrol engine, which in DStyle trim is forecast to be the model of choice in the UK.
It's going to be priced from around £17,500 which is about £2,000 more than the hardtop version.
This engine suits the car well and offered more than enough pep to keep up with the flow on even the steepest slopes I could muster through the orange groves and vineyards around Valencia’s hinterland.
Top speed is a claimed 118mph, 0 to 60 takes 8.9 seconds and Citroen claims it can average almost 50 to the gallon with emissions of 136g/km - similar to the hatchback.
Remarkably quiet for a cabrio, the DS rode the road well, the steering being precise and positive with a ride verging on the firm side but smooth, relaxed and certainly no way gittery, allowing it to be driven hard knowing it would grip the corners with ease.
UK buyers continue their love affair with open-toppers, as sales of Mazda’s MX-5, MINNI Convertible and Fiat 500C models confirm and this new kid on the block will add extra spice to the sector.
And with its five-seater capacity, the DS3 Cabrio opens up even more possibilities for wind-in-the-hair lovers.