CITROEN DS3 CABRIO.
OPEN-top motoring is back in vogue at Citroen with the arrival of a cabriolet version of the trendy DS3.
The French rival to the likes of the MINI and Fiat 500 has been given a retractable fabric roof to appeal to those who like fun in the sun.
Sliding away electronically in just 16 seconds the roof moves to expose the whole cockpit to the elements and can be operated even at motorway speeds.
That high-speed function is enabled by a rigid construction and makes the DS3 Cabrio very user friendly in the fickle British climate. In most cabrios you have to slow down to shut the roof and that's not ideal in a sudden downpour.
The roof can be stopped in any position during the retraction or opened completely in a single shot at the push of a button above the interior mirror.
It can also be taken right back - the rear window and spoiler folding down behind the rear seats.
However, as such it impinges on rear visibility and creates extra buffeting for rear seat passengers.
Keep the rear window section in place and the effect is like a giant sunroof and wind noise inside the DS3 Cabrio is minimal.
With the roof closed the cockpit is as quiet as in the hard top hatchback such is the sound insulation.
The roof itself may be sturdy and rigid but on the move there is slight vibration noticeable in the rear window, especially over rough road surfaces.
The DS3 Cabrio is priced from PS15,045 and the line up features three petrol engines, kicking off with a fuel efficient 1.2-litre three cylinder that Citroen claims can average 57.6mpg.
It''s not as nippy as the 1.6-litre engines used in the mid-range DSTYLE models or the turbo charged THP 155 DSPORT range topper which comes with a six speed manual box.
An automatic version will be coming on stream in the next few weeks and that will be priced from PS18,525 in DSTYLE trim.
The DS3 Cabrio DSPORT we tried costs from PS19,675 and comes with the likes of LED running lights and distinctive LED rear lamp clusters, alloy pedals and sports seats clad in posh upholstery.
At a squeeze it can seat five and boot space is a credible 245 litres - the largest you can get in open top superminis by some margin. The boot on the MINI Convertible is almost half the size.
Citroen has come up with a neat solution to enable the boot to open with the roof folded and the boot lid pops out from the body when unlatched to provide easy access, although the aperture is not quite as large as on the DS3 hatchback.
The cabrio is as useful as it is stylish and roof open or shut it is a good looking car. The roof can be had in a choice of three colours - black, blue and a special DS monogram pattern - while there are nine wheel options and seven paint finishes.
Despite being a three-door access to the back seats is straightforward and a pop-up air dam above the windscreen helps minimise turbulence as soon as the roof is opened.
It is an effective feature and so is the air conditioning which works well should you want to open the top in chilly conditions.
As with the hatchback the DS3 Cabrio can perform.
The 1.6-litre engine in the DSPORT develops 155bhp producing a good turn of speed with 0 to 60 taking 8.6 seconds.
In this version Citroen claims it is good for 47.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 137g/km but on a spirited drive through the countryside we managed only 29 to the gallon overall.
Like the MINI and Fiat offerings there are plenty of options to personalise the DS3 and for Citroen the car is proving a runaway success and has become its top seller in Britain.
With our love of open top motoring the cabrio will extend its appeal and plug a gap in the French brand''s line up which has existed since the C3 Pluriel convertible ceased production in 2008.
Fresh-faced and full of fun the DS3 is a cabriolet that will appeal to the young and the young at heart who fancy a bit of the latest in automotive fashion.