Road test: Citroen DS3 Cabrio
VARIETY is the spice of life seems to be Citroen's mantra with the manufacturer stating that choice will be one of the platforms they will use to sell the new DS3 Cabrio around the world.
The sporty number with its retro appeal is Citroen's first convertible-style car since the C3 Pluriel was discontinued here three years ago.
Available in 15 colours and 45 trim options with three choices for the roof panel, there is a DS3 Cabrio to suit anyone's tastes.
And that is what Citroen, desperate to make inroads into the Australian market, is banking on.
"Things are progressing nicely at the moment," said John Startori, the general manager of Citroen Australia at the Cabrio's launch on the Gold Coast.
"We are selling a lot more units and our dealer network has expanded from 18 to 31 with five more in the pipeline.
"For us the DS range is the best way to launch Citroen worldwide and the DS3 Cabrio with its style, customisation, versatility and road handling is perfect for capturing the interests of new buyers."
The interior of the DS3 Cabrio shows some French flair with the use of clever design and complementary materials.
The piano black and brushed metal surfaces work nicely with carefully chosen fabrics offering interesting contrasts.
It all feels fun and funky with attention to detail a refreshing inclusion.
I like to have somewhere to put a few essentials and although the well-set out cabin gives an illusion of space, it is punctured somewhat by a tiny glove box and few storage options.
All seats are fairly comfortable without being satisfyingly supportive with the driver's, in particular, in need of something more under the thighs. Both head and legroom in the rear is tight and despite claims of five real seats this is after all a small car.
Steering controls are markedly absent with Citroen preferring to place them on stalks added to the column and although this presents an uncluttered feel it is not the most practical option.
The boot lifts up and under - to accommodate the stacking roof - which makes it easy to open in tight spaces and at 245-litres it is among the biggest in its class.
Access to the loading zone is restricted however so even stowing the shopping may be a tad tricky.
On the road
Both the DS3 DStyle auto with its naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and the DS3 DSport housing a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine were available for a drive at the launch.
Of course these engines are not new to us featuring in the hatch and in some form in the Mini Cooper Cabrio and Peugeot 208.
The DStyle auto was slightly sluggish with the old four-speed auto running out of puff on the demanding steeper climbs of our drive course.
It is, however, attentive around sharp corners, has good braking capacity and is rather competent during inner-city forays. But for our money the six-speed DSport manual, which costs $2000 more, will deliver a far superior performance for your buck and adds the thrills to boot. Its 17-inch alloys (as opposed to the DStyle's 16s) are fairly loud on even only slightly blemished surfaces and the constant road noise can be irritating.
You can really hustle the DSport along and with almost double the torque of the DStyle it offers a much more energetic and economical ride.
The gearbox is smooth but fairly loose and the gears themselves are happy to be held just a little longer delivering that satisfying throaty roar.
Steering is okay, there is not much feel especially on the straight but that is not uncommon these days.
What do you get?
Citroen has been fairly generous with inclusions with the DStyle featuring black cloth trim, auto climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, LED ambient lighting, front fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, aluminium pedals and tinted rear windows.
The DSport adds satellite navigation, upgraded audio system, carbon-look dash and chrome tipped exhaust.
The Cabrio has yet to receive an ANCAP rating but safety features include front and side airbags, stability and traction control and ABS with EBD and emergency braking assistance.
The side structure is reinforced, strengtheners have been added around the boot and there is also a collapsible steering wheel for improved protection in the event of an accident.
The DS3 Cabrio is nicely placed between the Fiat 500 Cabrio (from $17,900) and the Mini Cooper Cabrio (from $40,350) although the Peugeot 207CC (from $33,490) is also there or thereabouts.
Citroen is especially proud of the Cabrio's concertina-style roof which brings the outside in. The rigid sides, much like those of the Fiat, prevents a total feeling of freedom but the construction itself is applaudable.
The roof, which can be opened at speeds up to 120kmh, has three resting positions the first as a sunroof, the second over the heads of all passengers and stacked on top of the boot when fully open. Rear visibility is almost impossible in the latter position which is rather frustrating.
Citroen claims figures of 6.7 litres/100km for the DStyle and 5.9L/100km for the DSport - not far off their hatch brothers.
We found the auto close to 8L/100km although the DSport was truer to promise. Cabrios come with three-year/100,000km factory warranty and free roadside assist for that period. There is also a three-year/60,000km capped price service plan at $360 per service with intervals at 20,000km.
There is little doubt that features like the 3D LED lights, floating roof and shark's fin adds to the DS3 Cabrio's appeal.
It is delicate but chunky with rounded edges and sleek lines which make you sit up and take notice.
It looks fun and sporty and is a zippy addition for city drivers.
This DS3 Cabrio is a clever addition to the Citroen range bringing with it a good combination of style, workmanship and fun. It allows you to put a personal stamp on a car that is easy on the eye and easy under foot. Citroen has 90 available this year and is expecting to sell far more DSports than DStyles. That would be our pick too.
What matters most
What we liked: Sporty look, cabin feel, performance of DSport.
What we'd like to see: Better rear vision with boot down, better audio quality, more support in diver's seat.
Warranty: Citroen offers a three year/100,000km warranty and three years or 60,000km capped price servicing.
Model: Citroen DS3 Cabrio.
Details: Two-door front-wheel drive cabrio.
Transmission: Four-speed auto and six-speed manual.
Engine: DStyle is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 88kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 160Nm @ 4250rpm. DSport is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol generating maximum power of 115kW @ 6000rpm and 240Nm @ 1400rpm.
Consumption: 6.7 litres/100km combined average for DStyle auto and 5.9L/100km for DSport manual.
Bottom line: From $30,990 for DStyle and $32,990 for DSport.