Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport long-term test review – MSN Cars UK

23 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport long-term test review – MSN Cars UK
Citroen DS3

Citroen DS3

Cabrio DSport long-term test review

Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport

Report 19, 19 November 2013: double DS3 as replacement arrives

You may have read about a little incident with the DS3 Cabrio a couple of weeks back?

Well, a few days ago our replacement DS3 Cabrio turned up while its cousin went off for some surgery. So what have we got?

It’s still a 155hp 1.6-litre turbo, it’s still the top spec D Sport Plus trim and it’s still got a purple roof (it’s blue, for the record, but CJ insists on calling it purple).

The differences are, for one, it’s silver. I think it looks really smart in this colour combination, and so does my significant other, too – she’s allegedly informed on all matters concerning style and fashion…

The interior is blue and black with a carbonfibre-effect fascia to the dashboard. Although it’s a bit jazzy for me, coming from our white exterior and black interior car, it is a bit more vibrant and I actually quite like it.

I wouldn’t spec it, but it does show you just how versatile and customisable the DS3 Cabrio is when it comes to style.

And although we’re sure you could create some questionable configurations, this one is actually rather natty. Another hit for the DS3, then.

Except that the roof rattles a bit more in this one and the ride is still questionably firm – highlighted best over winter-ravaged roads around the back roads of Hertfordshire. It’s smoother on motorways and A-roads.

Also, the problem with radio reception and the fiddly DAB system afflicts this car, too.

Even in winter, it still feels fun to punt around, however. Using the hearty engine and relatively slick six-speeder. They say a change is as good as a rest, and the new customisation options on our short-term replacement have me reinvigorated over the DS3 Cabrio.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 18, 7 November 2013: our Citroen DS3 Cabrio comes a cropper

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Our DS3 Cabrio has had a crash.

Thankfully, everyone involved was completely unhurt, which is more than can be said for the poor Citroen.

CJ had been borrowing the car for the past few days, and on his way to work this morning a van driver decided not to stop at a cross roads where my good colleague had right of way.

As the commercial vehicle continued to creep past the give way line, CJ had nowhere to go, meaning the van’s front end swiped all the way down the driver’s door of the DS3.

Thankfully it didn’t touch the alloy wheels, but the door and rear wing are goners – and it looks like it could have just nicked the rear bumper, too.

These panels are deformable for a reason though, to absorb energy in the event of a crash. As CJ said at the time, the side impact protection did its job.

Apart from the cosmetic damage, the Citroen was fine, and CJ quite happily continued on his way to work. Testament to the car’s build quality? It certainly can’t hurt to know you’ll be able to carry on in an event like this.

It’s being swapped for another retractable-roofed DS3 in a few days – I wonder what spec we’ll get and if it’ll have a purple roof, too…?

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 17, 31 October 2013: frosty reception

On my way out to the car this morning, even covered in grime, the DS3 Cabrio’s proportions looked just right.

It might have helped that the frosting on the paintwork made it look extremely cool, the 3D taillights shining through the covering on the glass.

Even when things had warmed up and the water began to bead on the body, melting from its former state, the DS3 still looked good grubby.

In fact – and all due respect to Citroen and its designers here – there’s something quite appealing about this slightly feminine looking piece of styling covered in grime that makes it look that bit more manly.

Although it’s still got a purple roof, according to CJ…

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 16, 30 October 2013: a different take on the DS3 Cabrio

Part of the proposal to run the DS3 Cabrio as a long termer through summer was to get my other half involved in the reviews.

She rather neatly fits the car’s main target demographic, we reckon, so getting her involved and listening to her take on the Citroen was quite refreshing .

She’s been behind the wheel for a significant portion of the car’s mileage and has given me some decent feedback on what she likes and dislikes about the car. Here goes.

I like the overall look of the car – it’s cool, is nice and trendy but still quite upmarket. I have to agree with her here.

I also quite like the way it handles – it feels planted and stable, like there’s some weight to it. It makes me feel secure when I’m driving. Again, I concur, although some aspects of the ride on rucked-up surfaces are less than perfect, but that’s to sort of be expected in a little car on firm springs and big wheels.

A MINI is the same.

I like the roof and having a cabriolet. You can slide it back and have no roof, but it’s not horrendously blowy at normal speeds, although it does get a bit more blustery when travelling on the motorway.

The seats are comfortable and it’s easy to find a driving position that suits me, and despite how it might look from the outside, there’s quite a bit of room in the back and it’s also comfortable in the rear. She should know, having spent around 1,000 miles back there, demoted to the rear seat by my younger brother.

I don’t entirely agree with her on the driving position however, but maybe it’s just my frame. I find I sit too high, meaning I seem to stamp down on the pedals, rather than push them away from me. Personal choice here though, I guess.

Sophie likes the stereo too, although agrees with me about the poor quality radio reception and fiddly DAB system, adding, the Bluetooth is really clear though.

Now for the bad points…

Sophie reckons the DS3 torque steers off the line and when using a fair bit of throttle when cornering. At first it gave me a shock because I didn’t know what it was [coming from a diesel BMW 1 Series, she wouldn’t…] but once you realise how to control it, it isn’t too bad.

It’s still a bit annoying, but I really do like the performance. It’s nippy and means you never feel anxious about pulling out into traffic. It’s nice on country roads, too.

Back to the radio: I’ve never been in a modern car where the radio reception is so poor. It costs a extra to buy the DAB package and that’s not that great and can be difficult to use.

I’m not keen on the armrest above the handbrake either. I have to disagree with her here. I find it quite a nice feature for gentle cruising as it actually at the right height to rest you arm on.

However, in the down position it can make changing into second, fourth and sixth gear a bit restrictive.

No matter though, as it’s easy enough to flip up and out of the way if you’re going to be working the ‘box on a country road.

By far the most annoying aspect of the car for her, however, is the boot opening. It’s really is very small and I sometimes find it difficult to get a packed suitcase in.

For younger girls with a big handbag or shopping bags – as well as those travelling back and to to university – it could be a bit of an issue. I know you can load it through the passenger or driver’s door with the rear seats down, but it’s quite difficult and it could damage the interior of the car.

Her words about the shopping bags, not mine…

On the whole though, for the both of us the positives outweigh the negatives.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 15, 25 October 2013: likes and dislikes with the DS3 Cabrio

As I mentioned in my last report, there’s plenty to like about the DS3 Cabrio, but there always seems to be one little niggle that spoils the overall experience.

I’ve racked up a fair few miles in the Citroen now, with the milometer showing over 9,500, so I’ve had a good chance to experience what it’s like living with the car.

Take the roof. I’ve actually really enjoyed having it down, even if some say it’s a corner-cutting convertible job by leaving the roof rails in place.

The canvas slides right the way back so you do get a big void with which to let the outside in. To do this Citroen fitted the tiny boot lid (source of much annoyance on many an occasion…) allowing the roof to be stowed right the way back.

As the roof can do this, it means there’s no back window wiper, as it’d have nowhere to go once folded. As a hatchback body style, that means when it’s wet, the rear glass gets extremely dirty indeed, to the point where you don’t have a hope in seeing out of it. And it can’t be cleaned on the move, either.

It’s still better than the visibility you get with the roof folded into its most extreme position however, as the folds of canvas completely block your vision. And in this position, it’s much more blustery inside than slid back to the rear of the roof.

Maybe Citroen would have been better fitting a proper hatch for better practicality and only allowing the convertible top to travel so far?

Another point of frustration is the entertainment system. The stereo is a thumper, with decent bass control and nice, tight projection of the treble.

It’s a shame when listening to the radio, then, that you get an annoying amount of interference – the reception is really rather poor.

No matter, though – or so you’d think – as our test car has the optional DAB radio. Controlled by a tiny remote and ‘tuned’ to radio preset six, it’s a bit difficult to fathom.

There’s no screen to display what station you’re actually listening to, so you have to point the remote in the direction of the dash and click away to either scroll through the pre-programmed stations or scan for new ones. It’s not an easy task, but at least it improves sound quality.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 14, 18 October 2013: autumn skies reveal roof-down enjoyment

Before ‘The Big Storm’, this autumn wasn’t going too badly, so much so that the mild temperatures meant I was still enjoying retracting the roof on the DS3 Cabrio on my way home from work.

A moment of artistic indulgence: my drive back from the office is along country roads, lined with trees changing from the lush green hue of summer to straw yellows, golden browns and burnt oranges of autumn.

Driving around at low speed with the top down, even in single-figure temperatures seems appropriate.

Whack the strong heater right up, zip up your coat and slide back the canvas and it’s actually rather pleasant, the crisp air and bassy blare from the atmosphere and exhaust pipe permeating the cabin.

I’ve even surprised myself, as it’s no secret I’m not really a convertible fan. I asked at the start whether you could convert a non-convertible lover, and through the DS3 Cabrio method, so far, I have to say you can.

But, inevitably with the Citroen, joy always seems to be followed by mild frustration. I don’t want to spoil my warm glow towards the DS3 Cabrio (maybe that’s just the heater?), so more of that in my next report…

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 13, 10 October 2013: Citroen DS3 Cabrio meets its ancestor

I’ve held this update over a bit, but a relatively recent trip to the North East for a special liaison with a special car turned up something very special indeed: the DS3 Cabrio met its ancestor.

My other half’s father is the proud owner of an original Citroen DS21 – one of the very best Citroen’s ever and a brilliant example of the French firm at its best. Driving the two back-to-back turned up some interesting parallels and some glaring differences, too – it was only q quick spin, though, so sorry for the less than professional photos!

First off, I get where Citroen is going with its modern DS brand a bit more having sampled the original. I understand the drive for quality, style, performance and a little bit of quirkiness thrown in for good measure, as it’s all present in the DS21.

What the comparison did highlight is how Citroen’s approach has changed. OK, so the DS21 and DS3 are fundamentally different cars aimed at different markets, but Citroen’s former trademark comfortable and compliant ride – plain to anyone who rides in the 21 – isn’t there on the Cabriolet.

It’s firm, and this helps crank up the sportiness factor, reducing roll and helping the little hatch corner with a flatter stance, but it is no where near as comfortable as the older car.

Large alloy wheels, stiff springing and firm damping mean it can be a bit choppy over ruffled surfaces and crashy over terribly pitted Tarmac. So much so that the door glass rattles in its frames.

I can’t blame for Citroen following MINI in its quest for a ‘sporty’ setup, however, as it’s what the current market dictates to a degree. I just wish the firm played to its strengths a bit more and drew upon its strong history of making brilliant riding cars that were decent enough to drive, too.

All the same, it was a great experience to be around one of the first ever DS vehicles (even if it wasn’t a Decapotable – now that would have been difficult to get hold of) and trace it through to today’s DS line.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 12, 9 October 2013: cometh the hour, cometh the car

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you’ve planned – a bit of understatement for me following some bad family news recently. But called into action when I needed it the most, the Citroen was brilliant.

I needed to chuck a fair chunk of luggage in quickly and get moving on the double. Despite the annoying boot open, it swallowed everything no problem.

Then I had to bomb it up the M1 and M6 – I won’t disclose the speed, it obviously wasn’t above 70mph – and the DS3 Cabrio was getting on for perfect.

Fast, comfortable and easy thanks to the cruise control, albeit a bit noisy at higher speeds due to the soft-top sliding roof, it got my passengers and I back with no problem. The mark of a good car? Yes, in my book, and certainly a welcome trait when you need it most.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 11, 18 September 2013: post-Frankfurt fallout with the DS3  

It’s been a while since my last report, with preparation for the Frankfurt Motor Show, the big German auto expo itself and a week’s holiday to recover (it wasn’t that bad, really…) pretty much accounting for my September.

Still, what little time I’ve spent in the Citroen I’ve enjoyed – and I’ve continued to go topless for a fair proportion of the mileage.

Absorbing the last rays of summer I’ve once again come round to the Citroen’s sort of halfway house approach to convertible motoring. I like how it means a bit less buffeting than in a MINI, for example, even if some may say that it’s not a proper cabriolet.

Not much else to report other than I’ve disregarded economy runs in the Citroen. I’m quite glad to as I’m enjoying giving it a bit of stick. For a while I’ve been burbling around under 2,500rpm to try and see just how efficient you can make it.

Surprisingly is the answer, but making the 1.6 four-pot turbo’s exhaust pop is much more fun. It’s really rather bassy and has quite a bit of presence at idle. I like it.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 10, 17 August 2013: dotting around in the DS3  

The Citroen has had a lot of work to do recently, and its mileage its now reading over 7,000. I must say, I’m really enjoying it, too.

The engine still makes me want to use it hard, and is great for road driving. When the road clears and opens out in front of you, revving it out means you discover a slight flat spot up-top, but for a twisty bit of Tarmac mixed with overtaking slower traffic the meaty torque band makes for swift progress, as we’ve previously stated.

Even CJ – who was initially a touch cold to the DS3 Cabrio – is warming to its charms, proclaiming he really enjoyed driving it into work, as he walked through the office door the other morning.

Pressed into action as an early morning and late night airport taxi as the MSN Cars launch schedule went a bit crazy, the Citroen treads the line nicely between comfort and sportiness.

Cruising round the M25 at night, the soft leather seats, cruise control and the powerful, soothing stereo make what can be tedious journeys less so. Once off the ‘car park’ and on the back roads home, it’s quite nice to give the DS3 Cabrio some stick as well.

I’ve done my fuel economy experiment and found the Citroen’s trip will read up to 49.6mpg (see below) with a cautious right foot. But it’s more fun to flex your ankle muscles, which is what I’ll be doing more of over the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 9, 5 August 2013: impressive fuel economy from the DS3

Citroen quotes fuel economy of 47.9mpg combined for the 155hp 1.6 turbo engine in our car. As you can see from the picture above, our DS3 Cabrio is punching above its weight – according to the trip computer, at least.

The digital display showed 49.6mpg, but at one point was reading as high as 50.5mpg on a leisurely 70mph cruise down the M1. You’ll have to trust us though, as it’s not exactly prudent (never mind legal) to snap a picture with your mobile when driving.

Even an analysis of the real figures show that the Citroen is hovering around the 42.3mpg mark, making the trip computer a bit optimistic, but it’s still a decent result.

It’s loosened up nicely – with nearly 6,000 miles on the clock now, it’s more efficient than when I first got it, having more than doubled the mileage in two and a half months.

Even when you use all of the torque and explore the revs it still remains relatively frugal – I’ve not seen under 30mpg yet.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 8, 30 July 2013: ups and downs

I reported on Sophie’s impressions of the DS3 Cabrio a few weeks back. There were many positive points she identified, but with a bit more time at the wheel, those ups have been tempered by a few downs.

While the DS3 Cabrio was used to ferry a bride around on her wedding weekend – who loved the car and its ‘wedding white’ appearance, incidentally – a schlep to Newcastle and back from Hertfordshire, mixed with some country road driving highlighted some deficiencies for Sophie.

Citroen DS3

She diagnosed the DS3 as suffering from a smidge of torque steer when taking off quickly. It does – but it’s easily controllable, not too intrusive and only a small price to pay for the gutsy motor.

Secondly, she’s not a fan of the radio. Again, she’s right. The FM reception is rather poor, but luckily our test car came fitted with a DAB radio. I’ll be dammed if I can work it though.

The digital tuner is actually set to preset six and comes with a little remote. It means there’s no screen to show you what station you’re listening to as you cycle through. Quite annoying.

Once setup and tuned in, the signal is clear though, making the most of the great speaker setup.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 7, 15 July 2013: open air in the sun with the DS3 Cabrio

The brilliant weather we’ve had so far in July meant on a recent trip to Goodwood for the 2013 Festival of Speed, we could open the DS3 Cabrio up – in more ways than one.

It was nice to get the roof down. As I’ve previously said, I’d always usually rather take the fixed roof option of a car with both tin top and soft top variants. But the DS3 Cabrio is winning me over, to a degree.

I mentioned in my previous bulletin that my significant other is fond of it, and at a gentle cruise down the sleepy lanes of Sussex it really did work.

It does feel a little floppy when pushed a bit harder, but it’s not an out and out sports car, so I’ll forgive the DS3 Cabrio its shortcomings there – even if I do think a MINI Convertible may have handled the same roads a bit better.

I’ve mentioned it before, but what I do like is the engine. It’s very strong in the mid range, with 177lb ft of torque available from as low as 1,400rpm and sustained over a broad band. It means you don’t have to stir the gearbox all that frequently to make decent progress like you might in some other, less powerful small convertibles.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 6, 28 June 2013: a different perspective on the DS3 Cabrio

Part of the reason for running the DS3 Cabrio was to get my other half, Sophie, involved in driving the vehicle. She sits pretty much smack band in the middle of the car’s target market and has had a decent amount of time driving the DS3 now. Her thoughts:

She likes the overall looks. I believe trendy, but not too showy were her exact words. I have to agree with her, I must say.

I’m not a fan of the blingy wing mirrors or chromed door strips, but the bright white paint, short overhangs next to chunky alloy wheels and even the blue (purple…) roof are all growing on me.

The latter point is something she’s a fan of, too. She likes the fact you can put the roof down, but having the doors in place and a decent wind deflector means you don’t get buffeted unduly when cruising around at low to medium speeds.

She also likes the stereo – and again, I agree with her. The quality and depth of sound emitted from the hi-fi is brilliant, even if the radio reception is poor.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 5, 19 June 2013: it was all going so well for the Citroen.

After singing its praises above, I came to start the Citroen and was met by an ‘engine temperature too high’ warning light. Somewhat confusing, given the car hadn’t been started for a few days.

A C1 courtesy car and a few days later on the DS3 was back on the road, a faulty engine temperature sensor the culprit. We can’t fault the service we received, if the initial instructions on whether we could or couldn’t drive the car weren’t crystal clear. As part of the car’s warranty, it was fixed free of charge.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 4, 17 June 2013: DS3 Cabrio performance impresses

I’ve been in and out of test cars for a few weeks now, so haven’t had any consistent time behind the wheel of the Cabrio – much to the delight of my other half. She’s quite taken with the crisp looks, the flexibility afforded by the roof (you don’t have to stop to raise or lower it, so it’s great for when the weather turns bad) and the relatively brawny feeling engine.

It’s a 155hp 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit. While the power output is healthy, it’s actually the fat 177lb ft of torque produced from 1,400rpm that makes the DS3 feel fast.

Another benefit of the sliding – rather than fully retractable – roof is that the car isn’t as heavy as a normal convertible might be, as not so much chassis strengthening is required. The DS3 Cabrio DSport weighs in at 1,250kg, whereas a similarly sized MINI Cooper S Convertible tips the scales at a more portly 1,305kg.

Performance is good, with the 0-62mph sprint dispatched in 7.4 seconds. It’s best to short shift though, and use the slick six-speed manual gearbox to drop the revs right into the heart of the torque band once more.

It sounds good, too. It’s surprisingly loud and bassy at idle, and as the revs rise there’s a nice burble from the exhaust and a woosh from the turbo. Warm it up and you might hear a small pop from the exhaust as well.

You need character and an agreeable noise in an open top car – if you’re going to get the roof down, you don’t really want a diesel drone or a pained four-cylinder petrol cry. The 1.6 turbo here meets the criteria nicely.

The chassis is a match for the engine. You can feel a slight bit of twist as you push the Citroen further – and in some cases this means grip runs out earlier than expected – but in others, it means the car feels more stable and compliant given it’s on stiffer springs and larger wheels.

I’m quite impressed with just how far this roofless DS3 can go, and the breadth of the engine’s abilities, returning 44.4mpg on a run and boasting overtaking performance more than adequate for the public road.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 3, 12 June 2013: open air in the Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport

There are some superficial aspects to the DS3’s styling, but on the whole I’m really starting to appreciate the looks of the car. CJ reckons the roof is purple, not blue, but whatever colour your eye says it is, it contrasts nicely with the pearl white paintwork and the chunky black alloys.

Both Sophie and I have had the opportunity to get behind the wheel and feel some wind whooshing through the DS3 Cabrio’s cabin – not too much though, as the deployable wind deflector mounted atop the roof does a decent job of reducing buffeting inside at town speeds. It can get a bit more blowy on the motorway, though.

I like the retractable roof, too. One of my major gripes with soft tops is the airiness when the roof is down. I like the presence of roof rails and pillars – it makes me feel more secure.

With the DS3 Cabrio you get that.

Some might say it’s a cheap way of doing a convertible, but I personally think it works, and it suits my tastes better than a full-on drop-top. It seems to retain some of the hatchback’s stiffness as well. You can hear things shaking and rattling a touch when cornering harder, but it’s not the wobble-fest I thought it might have been.

In fact, it hangs on quite valiantly in the bends, which means the chassis is a nice match for the punchy engine. We explored the fuel saving abilities of the DS3 on the run down and back to Le Mans, now we’re starting to push the Citroen to properly test its performance. So far, it’s showing a decent turn of speed.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 2, 8 June 2013: Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport off to Le Mans

A week after we picked the Citroen up, the kind folks at the press office in Coventry had arranged for me to take it abroad.

My brother and I are big endurance racing fans, so we made the trip to Le Mans for the test day – it amounted to a quick blast down to a rainy, windswept industrial town in northern France to watch some cars in soaking wet weather. While the weekend might have been a touch disappointing, the car wasn’t.

I had some reservations about the boot aperture (I still do…) and whether I would actually be able to pack my luggage in there. Thankfully, it all went in without an issue, as the space behind the boot lid is actually rather large.

Be warned though, anything larger than a weekend bag will have to go in via the foldable rear seats – even a box of corn flakes has to be turned on its side.

It proved efficient on the way down, returning around 45mpg on the trip compute, which worked out at just over 40mpg after the real-world calculations. The majority of time was spent on the motorway cruising at 80mph, but even with some more spirited driving around the public roads of Le Mans, which make up 75% of the track itself, it was impressive stuff from the Citroen.

Unfortunately, constant drizzle meant there was no opportunity to get the roof down, but with some better conditions on the horizon in June, I was hoping to sample some open air driving.

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Report 1, 1 June 2013: Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSport arrival

While the newest arrival to our fleet turned up one month early. there’s another addition to the MSN Cars’ car park that’s been with us for a similar length of time now.

It’s a Citroen DS3 Cabrio in top spec DSport trim, boasting a 155hp 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and – to put it bluntly – I’m running the car because I don’t like convertibles. That sounds odd, but bear with me.

Really, my significant other is playing a big part in our six-month test, too. You she, sits squarely in the market for the DS3 Cabrio: female, young, professional and with some disposable income to spend on a ‘fashion-led’ vehicle. So we want to explore her thoughts and opinions on the car, too.

As for my lack of love for soft tops, I want to see if I you can convert someone into a convertible fan. First impressions are, you can.

We picked the car up from Citroen Hatfield, and a thorough handover with the dealer meant we were well versed in how everything operated. With chinks of sunlight trying to break through the early June cloud, it was as good an excuse as any to get the roof down as well.

On the whole, first impressions were good and I liked it. There are many positives and negatives – which we’ll cover over the next few instalments – but the basics are that the DS3 Cabrio is a cool-looking, relatively quick little car with some nicely premium details.

Bodes well for the next sixth months, then…

By Sean Carson

Motoring Research

Need to know

Pros: Strong engine, appealing soundtrack, easy cruising ability, roof-down appeal, customisation, great stereo

Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
Citroen DS3
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