The French like their steak rare. And almost as rare as their steak, if you’ll forgive the semantic leap, is Citroën's new convertible hot hatch, the DS3 Cabrio Racing.
Citroën has decided to make just 100 of its latest special-edition soft-tops, and out of that limited supply only 10 of the individually numbered cars will make their way across (or under) the Channel to UK roads. Following in the vein of the 2011 hard-top of the same name, the drop-top, with its iconic 2CV-style retractable canvas roof, is a more focused, faster, harder-driving version of the DS3.
Citroën has increased the power from the (previously) range-topping 155bhp DSport to a far more hot-hatch-like 204bhp. Thanks to more power, as well as 203lb ft of torque and a remapped ECU, the DS3 can now manage the 0-62mph sprint in 6.5sec and go on to a top speed of 146mph.
But Citroën’s DS division hasn’t stopped there, though, as it’s been aided and abetted by its Citroën Racing counterparts, who have been successfully campaigning a highly modified DS3 in the World Rally Championship. So the Cabrio Racing's ride height has been lowered by 15mm, the tracks widened by 30mm front and rear, the suspension and springs upgraded and smart red Citroën Racing brake calipers fitted.
The end result is a convertible DS3 that really is fun and fast. Thanks to the sports suspension the cabrio now rides a bit harder without being bone-shatteringly uncomfortable, but on the upside the car now feels pretty rapid.
The turbocharged engine delivers the pace quickly and abruptly, although swift getaways can be hampered by the inevitable torque steer from the front-driven wheels as they struggle to cope with the additional power, particularly on wet roads.
Much like the hard-top Racing, the convertible does without any kind of diff. This means that if you push the DS3 too hard through a series of bends, and ultimately when exiting the corners, the front end will waiver, resulting in some inevitable understeer.
Additionally, the electrically assisted steering doesn’t give you the feedback through the wheel that you’d expect from a hardcore hot hatch. That doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had, it's just that for the money you can probably find a convertible that has more to offer dynamically – but more on that later.
One of the advantages of this being the cabrio, though, is that when the roof is slid back you hear the rasping, sonorous exhaust note to full effect. And the twin tailpipes not only sound good but also look good, too, thanks to their nice chrome finish.
The cosmetic upgrades don’t stop there. Gone is the famous garish orange detailing from the original hard-top Racing. The new convertible comes in an all-new body colour – Moondark grey, which has a distinct matt finish and gloss-black ‘Nemesis’ alloys. Carbonfibre detailing on the front splitter and diffuser all add to feeling that this is no ordinary DS3 cabrio.
But then if the price is to be believed – £29,310 – it certainly isn’t. For that kind of money you’re getting into Volkswagen Golf GTI convertible money, or even the sort of cash that the upcoming rear-wheel-drive BMW 2-series convertible will cost. However, they’re going to be two a penny compared to the rarified Racing DS3 cabrio.