Overall rating: 4/5
Some will say that Citroen's DS3 Cabrio is more about a large sunroof than a real cabriolet body, but because of that it betters its closest rivals in many ways. While undoubtedly targeted at the fairer sex it's as enjoyable a car to drive as the hatchback. So long as you don't spend all day on the motorway it could be the choice of the DS3 line-up.
In the metal 4.5/5
While the DS3 Cabrio looks virtually indistinguishable from the hatchback from some angles when the roof is closed, it features loads of unique details that its owner will love. There's extra chrome detailing for a start, plus highly stylised rear lights with a real three-dimensional appearance thanks to clever use of loads of LEDs. Between them is a unique boot door that pivots upwards neatly. Sadly, the aperture through which luggage must be slotted is quite restricted, though the boot volume (245 litres) is significantly bigger than both the MINI Convertible's and the Fiat 500C's.
Three different roof finishes are available and there's a luxurious new blue leather option for the cabin, which is of course colour-coordinated to the exterior hue (one of seven) and roof. Citroen offers nine different alloy wheel designs too. The rest of the interior is little different to the hatchback's, so it still has space for five occupants. As ever rear legroom is at a premium.
Driving it 4/5
There's only 25kg of extra weight in the Cabrio so its driving dynamics are unchanged. It's an agile car that's quick to change direction and fun to drive. This range-topping 156hp model has loads of urge from low down the rev range so it gives it a genuinely sporty personality too, emphasised by a pleasing bark from the exhaust.
The roof itself operates at speeds of up to 120km/h, which is unheard of. Admittedly it does look rather more like a large sunroof than a full convertible roof, but with it fully open it has the feel of an open-topped car, which is all that matters really, while a modest wind deflector at the top of the windscreen helps keep buffeting to a minimum. There are three opening positions for the top, which is useful, though when fully open the folded canvas blocks your rear view completely. Parking is made easier by the inclusion of rear proximity sensors.
What you get for your money 4/5
A starting price of about €21,000 is undercuts the MINI Convertible, but is more expensive than the Fiat 500C - and we doubt many will opt for the base DSign specification. DStyle and DSport are more appealing. At launch, Irish buyers will be offered three engines. Along with the THP 155 model driven here there'll be a new entry-level powerplant, the VTi 82, which is a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder unit, as found in the Peugeot 208. The latter could be an unexpected gem thanks to its low weight and eager power delivery. The sole diesel offering is powered by a 1.6-litre HDI 90 engine, partnered with the EGS automatic transmission.
Citroen let slip some of its near-future plans at the launch of the Cabrio. The bad news first: the DS4 Racing hot hatch has been canned indefinitely. Shame. The next new model will be a replacement for the C4 Picasso, due to be launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March in five-seat format. We're told that a concept of some description will be on display in Switzerland too. Following that Citroen will reveal three DS cars at Auto Shanghai in China, believed to be a C-segment saloon, compact SUV and a large luxury saloon. No word on how many of those will make it to Europe though.
We were pleasantly surprised by the DS3 Cabrio. On the face of it, the roof looks little more than a large sunroof, but it manages to endow the car with a unique open-top personality without too many compromises. It's certainly more practical than its immediate rivals. We'd even suggest that the Cabrio could be the best DS3 option for a lot of buyers.