From £15,2157
More power, improved efficiency and new equipment options lift the appeal of Citroën's characterful cabriolet

Our Verdict

DS 3 Prestige

Reworked supermini aims to take the fight to, among others, Mini

What is it?

A new version of Citroën’s distinctive DS3 cabriolet that benefits from a revamped 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and myriad equipment upgrades.

The engine is based on the existing THP 155 unit but has been upgraded in order to boost output and efficiency. This has been achieved thanks to tweaks that include increased fuel pressure, a modified turbocharger and a new stop-start system.

On paper, the net result of Citroën’s efforts look decidedly worthwhile. The outgoing THP 155 produced 154bhp and 177lb ft, while returning combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg and emitting 137g/km of CO2.

The revised THP 165, on the other hand, produces a higher 161bhp while averaging 50.4mpg and emitting a lower 129g/km of CO2. Peak torque of 177lb ft remains unchanged but is offered over a wider rev range than before, promising to improve the DS3’s driveability.

Also offered on the new DS3 is an automatic emergency city braking system, new LED and xenon headlamps and a selection of assistance and connectivity packages.

What's it like?

Citroën’s DS3 is, much as it always was, a pleasing car to drive. The steering is precise and fluid, the control weights light, the brakes suitably strong and the ride – despite 17-inch alloys and sports suspension – tolerable, albeit a little harsh through potholes.

The new THP 165 engine retains the smooth, willing nature of its predecessor and still sounds suitably sporting, with a pleasing burble during hard acceleration – and an audible cycling of the dump valve when you lift off.

It’s a very tractable engine as well, pulling heartily from low speeds in second gear, and its newfound punch is notable.

There’s a lot to like inside, too. There’s plenty of space in the front, comfortable seats, a powerful heater and a proper clutch foot rest. The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, and finding a suitable seating position is easy.

Generally the cabin feels well built and the materials are of an appealing and tactile nature, but the lower down you go, the more harsh plastics you'll find. Rear visibility can be limited, too, particularly with the folding roof partially down.

With the roof down, on the plus side, the cabin remains comfortable. Even at motorway speeds it’s easy to hold a conversation with your passengers and there's not much in the way of buffeting.

Roof up, a little more of the outside world works its way into the cabin than it would in the equivalent fixed-roof model, but not to an intolerable degree.

Those looking for a compact cabriolet that can happily seat four adults should probably look elsewhere, though. The DS3 can seat two in the rear, but they will probably not want to remain there for long. A Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet is definitely a better choice if you regularly carry four or more.

Somewhat optimistically, there’s actually seating for three in the rear, but that’s probably only best attempted if the occupants are happy to be intimate with each other.

You won't be left wanting on the equipment front, though. The DSport comes as standard with climate control, cruise control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and xenon lights.

A new emergency low-speed city braking system also features, bolstering the car’s safety credentials. Myriad options are offered as well, ranging from trim upgrades to an integrated sat-nav system – although, as usual, a cheaper stand-alone system is probably a better choice here.

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a compact cabriolet that’s quick and fun to drive, this latest version of the Citroën DS3 Cabrio should definitely be on your list.

The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is undoubtedly the more practical and higher-quality alternative, but a similarly specified and performing example will set you back thousands more than the Citroën. Similarly, an equivalent Mini Cooper S Convertible – a car due to be succeeded soon – will set you back more than the Citroën.

The Fiat 500C, meanwhile, can’t match the performance offered by the Citroën. If speed isn’t an essential criteria for your next purchase, however, it’s worth considering, thanks to its similarly distinctive style and character.

In short, this particular DS3 offers a great blend of performance, equipment and character for a sensible price. It is by no means a car that will suit everyone, but it’s a car we’re glad exists.

Citroën DS3 Cabrio THP 165 S&S MT6 DSport

Price: £21,225; 0-62mph: 7.5sec; Top speed: 135mph; Economy: 50.4mpg (combined); CO2: 129g/km; Kerb weight: 1360kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power: 161bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 177lb ft at 1400-4000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
6

11 December 2014
I don't really get the compromised type of roof arrangement offered on this and the 500C. I'd rather trade a few inches of roof opening and instead keep the hatchback versatility and rear visibility offered by a full length fabric sunroof, such as that on the Adam.

12 December 2014
Love the car and the fact it's a warm hatch with compliant suspension compared to the Mini, but, LAST TIME I looked there was no proper DAB radio, Stadard or option. Unforgivable on a £21,000 car these days .

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

12 December 2014
xxxx wrote:

Love the car and the fact it's a warm hatch with compliant suspension compared to the Mini, but, LAST TIME I looked there was no proper DAB radio, Stadard or option. Unforgivable on a £21,000 car these days .

Yep, true..and all the versions up to about 20K have the crappy mono display and unfathomable media interface. It's only with the Nav option that you get a touchscreen. That and the tiny pedals put me off this car but it's fun to drive.

12 December 2014
xxxx wrote:

LAST TIME I looked there was no proper DAB radio, Stadard or option. Unforgivable on a £21,000 car these days .

It might only be a detail, but I think it reflects the fact that Citroen, sadly, have rested on their laurels too much with the DS3. For me, its by far the best of the DS models, but the majority of models in the range (and you rarely see reviews of the best selling DStyle models) are still running on the same alloys, and with the same interior trims, etc as when the car was first produced at the end of 2009. This market is very fashion led, and Citroen really should have tinkered with trims, equipment and colours so that returning customers had something different to attract them. I'm sure it still sells well, but I wonder how much of that is now down to the heavy discounting, and large stock levels at the dealerships ensuring immediate delivery.

12 December 2014
so in this review the comment on the roof is:

"Roof up, a little more of the outside world works its way into the cabin than it would in the equivalent fixed-roof model, but not to an intolerable degree"

but in the diesel a few days ago its:

"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."

Confused? Yes I am!!! any consistency at Autocar any more?

12 December 2014
Autocar wrote:

The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet is undoubtedly the more practical and higher-quality alternative, but a similarly specified and performing example will set you back thousands more than the Citroën.

The DS3 is not in the same category as a Golf, its a supermini and therefore the claim the Golf is more practical is pretty pointless, its a competitor for the Polo.

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