Likeable compact convertible gets an economical new diesel engine, with mixed results

What is it?

Citroen’s rag-roofed DS3 Cabrio now comes equipped with PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s latest BlueHDI 120 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine.

The engine is a new addition to the DS3 Cabrio range, fresh from its roll-out in other flagship PSA products, including the Peugeot 308 and Citroen DS5.

It’s an impressive engine on paper, mixing outputs of 118bhp and 210lb ft of torque with combined fuel economy of 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km. In a car that’s generally quite likeable in its class, it could be a good match.

What's it like?

As compact convertibles go, this one’s quite decent. It gets a nod of approval in most departments; for a car of its type, it rides and handles okay, the engine’s performance is easily accessible and economy is good.

That engine is at its strongest at lower revs. It’s brisk off the line and through the gears, although there’s not much point revving it beyond 3000rpm as the torque drops off. The six-speed manual gearbox has a pleasingly slick shift. Economy in the 50s is easily achievable even with a heavier right foot.

Refinement could be better, mind. The retractable cloth roof means there’s plenty of noise coming into the cabin at higher speeds, and the engine is vocal under acceleration. Something to waft silently through long summer nights in this is not.

You shouldn’t be looking at a compact convertible for the last word in dynamic performance, but this DS3 Cabrio is acceptable enough to drive. The ride is typically comfortable enough but has a habit of crashing badly over rutted surfaces, due to its combination of sports suspension, 17in alloys and absence of a roof. 

The chassis is stiff enough for there to be no nasty surprises in the handling. The steering is quick and offers decent feedback, and it’s surprisingly agile. Thankfully the bad old days of heavy, folding hard-top small convertibles which were largely dreadful to drive are largely behind us. 

Elsewhere, it’s typical DS3 Cabrio, with looks that show no sign of aging after a recent update, an interesting cabin and plenty of customisation potential. 


Should I buy one?

If you’re sold on the way it looks – and many will be – then there are no deal-breakers in the way it drives, although the petrol versions are nicer to drive and more in keeping with the car’s character.

This DS3 Cabrio isn’t cheap, though, because of that diesel engine (even more reason to buy the petrol), but then neither are its rivals. A Mini Cooper D convertible is roughly the same money in an equivalent trim level. A Fiat 500 convertible is cheaper but smaller. In a class like this more than most, personal taste will win out. 

Citroen DS3 DSport Cabrio BlueHDi 120

Price £21,415; Price as tested £23,895; 0-62mph 10.4sec; Top speed 118mph; Economy 78.5mpg; CO2 94g/km; Kerb weight 1275kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 210lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual 


Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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dukebox9reg 10 December 2014

Would hope it would do into

Would hope it would do into the 50's MPG. I own a new C4 Picasso with the non blue 115bhp engine. With mainly town driving and the odd long run its averaged 51mpg since having it nearly a year now. With mid 60s easily achievable on a long run with 70 achievable if really trying, With less weight and frontal area i'm sure 60s with mixed 'normal' driving shouldn't be difficult. I agree with the power delivery comments though. The Picasso feels genuinely quick at half throttle at low revs with all the torque really showing. Problem is put your foot down and rev a bit more and and all it does is make some more noise and doesn't go anywhere any faster.
superstevie 5 December 2014

Not sure of those new

Not sure of those new headlights. And the interior is very very shiney.
beniot9888 5 December 2014

only 3 stars?

For a car with no deal breaker (I quote), sounds a bit rough to me.