Test Drive Citroen DS3 Cabrio 1.6 THP 155 – Fast image

Citroen unveiled the DS3 Cabrio model last September at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, and started to sell the car this year.
When launched, the French automaker told the world that the DS3 Cabrio is the only model in its class that can accommodate five people and it also has the largest boot capacity (245 liters).

True but keep in mind that this is a little car, so don’t carry 3 people on back for more than 200 km because after the trip all of them will go directly to the hospital; just joking. The idea here is that DS3 is more practical compared to the competition.

Some say this has some “air” from the technologically advanced and innovative 2CV, even if the DS3 was designed as an anti-retro car – but keep in mind that the French automaker built the 2CV for 42 years (1948 – 1990). It is considered one of Citroën’s most iconic cars.

Citroen calls the DS3 a cabriolet – and yes you can fully retract the entire soft top; but still there’s a lot of structure around you and you’ll not get the same feeling that you will get from a true cabrio – so no ‘wind-in-your-hair’ sensation.
Basically, the feeling is that you have a huge sunroof that can be retracted. But there are some clear advantages; at least two: in case of a rollover the passengers are much better protected, and the roof mechanism can be operated up to 75mph (120 km/h), witch great because, with a true cabrio when you are in the highway for example, you can’t operate the mechanism, and you have to pull over into a parking space. Also keep in mind that for example the Fiat 500C’s (that has the same type of mechanism) lid can be retracted up to 37mph and the Mini’s roof can be operate at only 20mph.

Another advantage is that the mechanism adds only 25kg, so the car will not suffer in terms of driving dynamics and fuel consumption – witch by the way in the 1.6 engine is not that good. You have three positions for the roof: intermediate, horizontal and total – with the roof tucked up onto the rear window like a spoiler.
Problem is that when the soft-roof is fully retracted you can’t see anything on the rear-view mirror. Expect very good noise insulation inside the cabin when the roof is fully closed even at high speeds.

Engine, transmission
DS3 comes with a choice of three petrols and two diesel engines – from 82 hp to 155 hp in case of petrol units. We’ve tested the most powerful model – the 1598cmc four-cylinder petrol that is capable, like I said earlier for 115 km (155hp) and 240 Nm of torque at 1400rpm. Code-named “Prince” this engine is developed jointly by BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën.

First impressions: fast. Yes, the car feels very fast and very “light”; Feels very agile. From 3000-rpm is even more impressive. Also, even if you are on low rpm’s the engine is capable to easily accelerate. In third gear you can go from about 35 km/h up to almost 140 km/h.

Suspension, handling, breaking
Removing a car’s roof, will inevitably affect its stiffness, but not in this case. The car feels sporty – the suspension is firm.
We’ve tested the car at the Monza racetrack and up to 70 km/h it was very stable during our cornering test; better compared to the Fiat 500 or Peugeot 208, but not as good as the Mini Cooper S.
The ESP can be completely deactivated, which is good – compared to other vehicles from the PSA Group (2008 for example) that will automatically reactivate the ESP when the car starts to slide.

Breaking is firm from 100 km/h; during our evasive maneuver tests (100 km/h – full brake left-right maneuvers) the car proved to be stable; sometimes the car gets a little bit “tail-happy” but in an acceptable manner with the ESP on.

Some buyers will find the suspension set-up on the DSport just too harsh.

Fuel consumption
155 hp is great but the fuel composition is not as great as we tooth – or at least if it is to compare our figures with those from the automaker.

On the highway, at 110 km/h with AC on the on-board computer indicates 6.8 liters / 100 km (AC off ~ 6.0%). At 130km/h it goes to 8.1 liters / 100km.

During the rush hours in Millan we achieved about 9.1 liters / 100 km.
Official figures from Citroen: urban: 7,9% ; extra urban: 4,5%; combined: 5,8%

Interior and gadgets
DS vehicles are considered top-of the line Citroen cars. The dash looks very techy, the steering has a nice metal insert, and the leather with those “dots” looks nice. Seats offer a good lumbar support. Generally speaking we found good quality materials inside the cabin; solidly assembled. Also the three-layer roof is hand-made in France.

However it has some drawbacks – there are no cup holders; there’s only a “space” in the doors where you can put your water. And the infotainment system – there’s no touch screen and if you want to insert your route it will take a lot of time considering that the only way to do it, is to rotate the central knob between the letters. You can’t move up or down between rows, just left right by rotating the knob. I find it difficult for today’s days. However you have Bluetooth with audio streaming and USB that works pretty well.
Also the stereo sounds great.

Cargo Space
Don’t expect to carry large luggage’s with the DS3 Cabrion, even if it has 245 liters (only 40 liters smaller compared to the normal DS3), because the access to the compartment is very compromised. Also it is very easy to scratch the rear bumper when you load/unload your luggage’s, mostly because of its shape.

What’s nice is that the soft-roof will move up automatically if is completely folded so you can access the luggage compartment; you just have to touch the boot’s handle and in 2 seconds the soft-roof will move up.

The DS3 Cabrio hasn’t yet been crash tested by the EuroNcap but we don’t think it will differ a lot in case of a crash, compared to the normal DS3 that achieved 5-stars from the European agency.
The DS3 Cabrio comes with a reinforced structure, six-airbags, abs with ebd and eba, plus esp electronic stability control all standard. Also all models have Isofix anchorage points in the back seats.

Direct competitors: Fiat 500C, Mini Cooper Cabrio

Like / Dislike:
Plus: Very stylish, very nice turbo- engine with very little turbo lag, good maneuverability and stability. Minus: Old navigation, no cup holders, fuel consumption.

Tested vehicles:
Citroen DS3 Cabrio 1.6 THP 155
Engine: 1598cc 16v turbocharged in-line four-cylinder, 154bhp @ 6000rpm, 177 lb-ft from1400 rpm
Transmission: Front wheel drive, six-speed manual
Performance:0-100km/h 7,4 sec
Starting price: 24,450 €