WANT an uncompromised opinion? Ask my beautiful wife.
She is never backward in providing her assessment of what sits in our driveway. Rarely is she nonplussed … and often the judgment is brutal.
Yet bouquets were thrown at the tyres of Citroen's DS3 Cabrio.
The looks, power and funky interior garnered admiration from the bride who gushed that she'd happily have one as a permanent fixture in the garage.
That is a big tick for Citroen - which is pinning its worldwide resurgence partly on the chic DS range.
At just under $33,000 for this model (for $2000 less you can get the DStyle with an automatic transmission) it's the only five-seat convertible in this class.
In name it's a cabriolet, but this is a drop-top French style. It's more like Citroen has taken a can-opener to the roof, leaving the doors and windows intact.
It provides the open air benefits without being buffeted by the winds…unless you're in the back seat. Up front things remain composed with the roof off although the bug-catcher that pops up does generate some noise.
With the lid down the DS3 retains nice composure in a cabin boasting plenty of personality.
There are the usual French quirks, like the stereo and cruise control/speed limiter settings hidden behind the steering wheel on their own stalks, but we liked our test machine's contemporary carbon-fibre look finishes.
Despite Citroen singing its praises as a five-seater, the DS3 is a small car. Fitting three across the rear seat would be asking a fair bit of adult friendships due to limited leg and knee room.
On the road
This powerplant is a strong unit. We've seen it before used by Mini and Peugeot, most recently in the 208 GTi (see the review on page 10), and this is another likeable iteration.
The turbocharged four-cylinder has ample firepower when you need it and is happy to work hard in partnership with the six-speed manual.
Steering is well-weighted and direct, although a little vague through the centre, but with a firm chassis it's happy to tackle a bend with enthusiasm.
Without the structural rigidity of a standard roof there is a hint of scuttle over rough surfaces.
It remains a fun little car to throw around and you can get away from the lights with a rapid spring in your step.
What do you get?
Citroen is offering a heap of customisation options with the DS3, but standard includes are black cloth trim, auto climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, LED ambient lighting, front fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, aluminium pedals and tinted rear windows, satellite navigation, upgraded audio system, carbon-look dash and chrome tipped exhaust.
There's the Fiat 500 Cabrio (from $17,900) and the Mini Cooper Cabrio (from $40,350), although the Peugeot 207CC (from $33,490) is also there or thereabouts.
International engine of the year awards don't get given out for nothing, and this donk combines power with efficiency. It should achieve about six litres for every 100km … pretty impressive for something with this punch.
Insurance may need some investigation as the turbo may attract a higher premium. Servicing costs are at least locked in for the first three years at $360 each.
Cabrios aren't renowned for common sense, but this isn't bad. Boot space is good and uncompromised with the roof folded, but getting some items in does require some manoeuvring due to the small opening.
The rear seat space is small, even with short adults riding up front, and is probably space best left to kids.
With 15 colours and 45 trim options, along three choices for the roof panel, there is a DS3 Cabrio for every occasion.
Interior and exterior styling is striking with brilliant use of the centre and rear pillars. Dropping the roof adds an element of excitement.
What matters most
What we liked: Cool interior styling, uncompromised boot space with roof off, driving dynamics, can take the roof on or off at up to 120kmh.
What we'd like to see: Cruise control and stereo operations moved to steering wheel, better rear vision with roof down, larger boot opening.
Warranty and servicing: Citroen offers a three year/100,000km warranty and three years or 60,000km capped price servicing. Servicing is $360 per year or every 10,000km.
Model: Citroen DS3 DSport Cabrio.
Details: Two-door front-wheel drive cabriolet.
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol generating maximum power of 115kW @ 6000rpm and 240Nm @ 1400rpm.
Consumption: 5.9 litres/100km.
Bottom line: $32,990.
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