What is it?
DS is the premium arm of Citroen, although the new brand would rather downplay the link to its parent company. The DS 3 is evidently a revised version of Citroen’s familiar DS3 hatchback and it’s available in fixed-roof and Cabrio form, the latter tested here.
The current DS range consists of the 3, 4 and 5, with a couple of variants for all but the biggest model. The DS 3, the smallest model in the current line up, can be considered a rival to the Mini Hatch and Fiat 500.
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The tenets of the DS philosophy are style, technology and comfort. Naturally, extensive personalisation is a core part of the DS proposition, too.
Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time
This Cabrio is powered by DS’ BlueHDI diesel engine, with 118bhp. The 1560cc turbodiesel, which is also available in 98bhp guise, generates a healthy 210lb ft of torque at 1750rpm. Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox the Cabrio hits 62mph in 9.3 seconds and powers on to 118mph.
DS claims 78.5mpg on the combined cycle for the higher powered BlueHDI unit, with CO2 emissions of 94g/km. Buyers can also choose from a range of petrol engines.
DS has made a firm commitment to technology, in terms of drivetrains, connectivity, convenience and safety. The BlueHDI diesel engine is Euro 6 compliant and it features a number of technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption and eliminate particulates – DS claims to be a leader when it comes to the elimination of particulates, in fact.
All DS 3 models feature LED rear lights as standard while more expensive versions get LED headlights, too. Cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth and a DAB radio are standard across the range, while higher specification models also feature sat nav, a reversing camera and automatic lights and wipers. The Apple CarPlay and Android MirrorLink mobile phone connectivity systems can be added for £100, too.
The DS 3 comes fitted with the PSA group’s new Active City Brake function, which uses a short-range laser sensor to scan the road ahead for obstacles to avoid low speed collisions.
The removable Cabrio roof is a powered fabric panel that retracts backwards, leaving the side rails in position.
What’s it like to drive?
The cabin quality is generally good for a car at this price point and certain buyers will no doubt be drawn to the brightly coloured dashboard of our test car, which was colour-coded to the fabric roof. The driving position itself isn’t quite right, though, as it sits you a touch too high with the steering wheel a fair stretch away.
The DS 3 Cabrio is by no means a performance car so it’s no surprise that is favours comfort over dynamic ability. Nonetheless, the steering is reasonably direct – if a touch vague – and the modest grip is very well matched to the rate of roll and level of body control. That means there is fun to be had in stroking it along a country road, maintaining momentum and staying firmly off the middle pedal.
Ultimately, though, the 3 doesn’t come close to troubling a Mini Hatch for dynamic ability or driver involvement. One issue is that this Cabrio lacks structural rigidity – over an uneven surface you’re aware of the windscreen surround shaking and the steering column wandering around the cabin.
The diesel engine is refined both around town and at a cruise and it pulls rather well, but only within a narrow rev band. It also returned mid-50s mpg figures throughout our test drive, almost regardless of driving style. A willing petrol engine would make the 3 much more satisfying to drive, however, if less frugal.
As already mentioned the Mini Hatch – and the Convertible, for that matter – has the DS 3 covered for driving dynamics. It also has the stronger brand appeal, but the archetypal Mini buyer would certainly find much to like about the 3’s styling and interior.
The DS is more fun to drive than Fiat's 500, but, again, it lacks the Italian’s brand power.
The DS 3 Cabrio starts at £15,295, rising to £21,795 for the Prestige BlueHDI model tested here.