What is it?
An ambitious and, let’s face it, rather questionable attempt to blend Parisian style with hot hatch substance. To DS, the idea of creating a DS 3 Performance sans roof makes sound business sense. Us Brits have an insatiable appetite for convertibles and a long-standing affection for hot hatches, so clearly combining the two would result in a best seller, right? Well, perhaps.
First impressions are positive. Like the hatchback, the Cabrio is powered by a 205bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder THP engine, a six-speed manual gearbox and lowered (by 15mm) sports suspension. The DS 3’s tracks also go out by 26mm at the nose and 14mm at the rear and Brembo-calipered 323mm brake discs are housed behind 18in alloy wheels.
Surprisingly, the Cabrio is only 25kg heavier than the standard DS 3, which represents a relatively small weight penalty for a cabriolet. Factor in an impressive 221lb ft and a Torsen limited-slip differential and the Cabrio shouldn’t be far behind the hatch in terms of real-world performance.
What's it like?
Despite the fact that the Cabrio retains substantial-looking roof rails, the lack of a fixed centre section results in a package that shudders and bangs over the smallest of imperfections. It’s a genuine impediment on undulating B-roads, with this DS 3 never feeling truly locked onto the surface.
Thankfully, on smoother surfaces the Cabrio inspires more confidence. Due to its aggressive suspension set-up, the DS 3 resists body roll admirably, and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres provide impressive levels of grip; we did eventually manage to tempt the rear-end to rotate, but it took some serious provocation.
However, like the hatch, the Cabrio suffers from steering that feels vague off-centre, a characteristic that had us second-guessing our inputs on the way in to faster corners. Granted, once turned in, the DS 3 does settle, but it never flows down the road in the same satisfying manner as a Mini Cooper S Cabriolet or Fiesta ST.
In a straight line, the DS 3 is undoubtedly quick, with a 0-62mph time of just 6.5sec. But the little four-pot – the same unit as found in the Peugeot 208 GTi – never feels as powerful as the raw numbers would suggest thanks to a characterless engine note and a mid-range that lacks real punch.