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Citroen's DS3 drops its top

2013-05-23 20:58

STRIP TEASE: French automaker Citroen has dropped the top of the DS3 for the Cabrio version in a rather sexy way, but its roof and restricted rear view is heart-breaking. Image: Citroen SA


2013 Citroen DS3 Cabrio

2013-05-14 15:02

Citroen SA has launched the fourth model in the DS line-up in the form of the DS3 Cabrio.


French automaker Citroen has just introduced the Cabrio version of the DS3 in South Africa with a launch in sunny Cape Town... and on its beautiful roads.

The DS3 Cabrio is the fourth model in the DS line-up; the others are the City Car, the C4 Aircross SUV and the D-segment premium offering, the DS5. The first DS3 model was launched locally in 2010 and not too much has been changed since.


Every car has some kind of association for me, so it’s no surprise this French number makes me think of Paris and fashion on a catwalk thanks to the attention to detail and use of fine materials in the DS3 Cabrio, much like a killer accessory item to add some flair to any outfit.

Speaking of fashion, DS3 buyers are always spoilt with the choice of options. The roof is available in black, blue or or "moondust monogramme" - think of a designer Louis Vuitton pattern to get the idea. The facia, door mirrors, keys, seats, interior trim and gear lever can all be personalised with a host of colours.

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The DS3 is a good-looking small car and the fairer sex will probably love it purely because of its styling, yet it’s still funky enough for the guys – if cute is your kind of thing. Add a "peel-back" canvas roof, some cool 3D-effect tail lights and a bit of an awkward boot and you have the Cabrio version.

In fact, I love the styling and the DS3 line-up is generally fun to drive, especially the DS3 Racing version.


It smells nice thanks to the signature air-freshener in Citroen and Peugeot cars, feels sturdy when driving, and the quality materials down to the steering wheel are much appreciated. Standard goodies include cruise control, power windows, central locking, soft-touch materials, aircon, anti-lock brakes, stability control and six airbags.

And, just because it’s a strip-tease version, that doesn’t mean the car’s structure has been changed. Since the soft-top roof folds back, the car’s pillars are still exactly the same as the hatchback, making it feel more like a nifty sunroof.

That means driving and handling are not jeopardised either; it’s still capable of holding its own in a tight twisty. The only thing that hindered any pleasure was the wind noise from the flapping wind deflector when the canvas is peeled back even a fraction. It makes less noise when the reflector is held down by hand, so perhaps this is something the automaker can re-think.

There are three models in the line-up: VTI 82 Design, VTi 120 Style and THP 155 Sport – don’t let those numbers throw you off, they purely depict their “horsepower” output.

The Cabrio is available with a choice of three engines: a three-cylinder 1.2 with 60kW, a 1.6 with 88kW and a 1.6 turbo with 115kW. The last has a top speed of 214km/h and sprints from zero to 100 in just 7.3 seconds.

Paint options are bountiful with seven body colours and a couple of roof-colour options in black or blue for most. There are three cloth and leather trim options and several 16 and 17” alloy rim choices.

A highlight on the new model is the new rear lights. Its 3D square LEDs have an hypnotising effect and it sports a DS3 logo inside the light cluster.


The DS3 Cabrio is very similar to the Fiat 500C and the Mini convertible in terms of direct competition and in the way the roof comes down. EAch has a similar soft top which operates the same way, the only thing that makes the DS3 Cabrio better is that it can be operated while driving at a top speed of 120km/h.

I can’t think of any other convertible or cabriolet that can operate at that speed. Usually the driver needs to pull over or slow way down to operate the roof - 30km/h for the Mini Cooper Convertible, 85km/h in the Fiat 500C.

The roof folds back much like a sardine can but doesn’t go all the way. Kind of silly, for me at least, as I insist on being able to see what’s going on in the rear-view mirror – I’m sure most drivers would agree? The roof obstructs the view because the rear roof spoiler and back window fold down with it, leaving it scrunched up in a neat pile.

Citroen SA’s marketing GM Grant Bowring says the design is justified with the inclusion of a nicety. “The DS3 Cabrio comes with rear park sensors exactly for that reason,” he said.

So drivers are going to have to rely on the mirrors and work out the proximity of the park distance sensors beeps rather closely.


The boot, as innovative as it is with its upward folding motion, is a fail of epic proportions.

Its positioning is awkward and so is the size of the actual “hole”. It’s the shape of a rectangle and just getting a laptop backpack in or out of the boot can end up in a wrestle.

It’s quite annoying considering the boot is the exact same size as the hatchback model with 245 litres of space but if getting out an average-sized bag is such hard work; imagine what it’s going to be like when the full spare wheel needs to be accessed under the boot floor when it’s needed. No, thank you.

It’s disappointing because I like the DS3 hatch and the way it looks but I'm all for practicalities and I usually need the boot for random things and luggage.

The DS3 Cabrio will not suffice as a small family car but would suit single folk or those who have more than one car in the garage. If you’re pedantic about easy boot access and no restrictions while driving, this car is not for you. If you like going topless, give it a whirl.

DS3 Cabrio VTi 82 Design - R219 900
DS3 Cabrio VTi 120 Style - R258 900
DS3 Cabrio THP 155 Sport - R291 900
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