The DS 3 Cabrio is a charming drop-top with a lot of personalisation options and a good choice of engines. It’s feeling its age now, though, and newer alternatives are better in key areas
The DS 3 Cabrio is the convertible version of the smallest DS car, the DS 3. The DS 3 Cabrio was originally launched as a Citroen, but after a 2016 facelift, the Citroen name was dropped. Read more about the hard-top the DS 3 review.
Confession time: the DS 3 Cabrio isn’t a full convertible, because it has a sliding fabric roof on rigid pillars. The similarly priced Mini Convertible is a full-on convertible, so it’s the better choice should you want a true drop-top. However, the benefits of the DS 3 Cabrio system is less wind buffeting at speed and better use of boot space with the roof down.
Sit behind the wheel and the stylish lines of the dashboard immediately win you over – the combination of polished metal, colour coded trim inserts and interesting forms make for an eye-catching cockpit. However, some of the buttons are shared with cheaper Citroen models, so the DS magic waivers a bit. A Mini Convertible interior feels that bit more special.
All DS 3 models also come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, but alternative infotainment systems such as the one in the Mini is on a whole different level in terms of operating speed, display clarity and ease of use on the move, with its rotary dial control rather than touchscreens.
Space inside the DS 3 Cabrio is pretty good, though. Despite the rakish roofline there’s good amounts of headroom upfront and all models get a height-adjustable driver’s seat, even if the pedals are slightly offset. Moving onto the back seats, pivoting through the narrow opening behind the front seats isn’t particularly easy, and once there, space is limited for six-foot adults.
Even with the DS 3’s roof folded back, there remains good access to the boot, allowing you to make full use of the 245-litre capacity. For comparison, a Mini Convertible makes do with 215-litres of space.
The DS 3 Cabrio is like a nice evening dress – there are occasions where it’s perfect for the job, but they don’t come that often
The DS 3 feels best when paired with a petrol engine. Power ranges from 82-210hp, with the mid-range 110hp version being the best allrounder for performance and running costs. That isn’t to say the 100 and 120hp diesels are to be avoided – far from it – they are frugal in the real world and feel more at home on the motorway, but they don’t fit with the lively character of the DS 3 as much as the petrols.
This lively character is shown in the way the DS 3 Cabrio drives. It’s good fun to chuck it about on twisty roads, but there is a drawback: it’s just too fidgety over poor road surfaces. It’s ok if you’re on the motorway, but big potholes still send an unpleasant thud through the cabin. The DS 3’s suspension shortcomings are exacerbated by just how high the bar is set in this class by cars like the open-top Mini.
In terms of safety equipment, airbags and a stability control system are standard on the DS 3 Cabrio, while high-spec models can be equipped with emergency city braking.
All in all, the DS 3 Cabrio has plenty of French charm, lots of personalisation options and great engine choice. However, compared with similarly priced alternatives it now plays second fiddle in a class that has moved on and left it behind.