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Citroen DS3 Cabrio: Ooh la la!

By raccars Published

With BMW's Mini, Fiat's super cute 500, television shows such as Mad Men and fashion trends galore flying the flag for all things retro, Citroen has made what may be seen as a rather brave and bold marketing move, by campaigning its new DS3 range with the tag 'anti-retro.'

However this is a rather disingenuous way of selling the DS3 Cabrio, as while it is a thoroughly modern idea in execution, in spirit, many of it elements are firmly retro. As an example, the roll-top roof that seems familiar for a Fiat 500 was actually seen a long time ago in Citroen's very own 2CV. It's rather a clever system, too, as by keeping the roof pillars in place with the hood down, the Citroen DS3 maintains rigidity that in the traditional cabriolet involves extensive re-engineering. While the system stops short of providing that full, wind in the hair feeling so popular with 1980s rock videos and dogs, for the same reason it's popular with style-conscious female passengers, who get to exit the car minus that unpleasant birds' nest hairdo effect.

In more practical terms, the DS3 Cabrio is offered with three petrol engines: a 1.2 litre three cylinder unit for 80bhp, a 1.6 litre 118bhp that's expected to form the basis of most of the car's sales and a 1.6 litre turbocharged unit for 154bhp. Diesel fans will have to wait until later in the year for a planned 1.6 litre 89bhp unit.

Unfortunately, while the DS3 Cabrio has Parisian chic oozing from every pore, there is a substantial whiff of style over substance. While its looks will turn as many heads as a Mini, it is something of a show pony and lacks its rival's handling and ride quality. There's no shortage of grip, but the steering response is out to lunch and those with bad backs will need to give lumpy roads a very wide berth, or have a chiropractor on speed dial.

The inside of the DS3 is as stylish as the outside and, while there's plenty of headroom, Citroen's claim to seat three in the rear is a bit of a stretch. Similarly, while the boot is fairly roomy, you need the agility of Mr Tickle to access it. The DS3 Cabrio can be specified with an almost endless number of personalisation options for colour and trim elements.

Priced on a pretty much level pegging with the Mini Convertible, the DS3 is attractive enough to be considered a serious rival. On the road the Mini has the edge, but the DS3 counters well with better equipment levels.

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