DS 3 Cabrio 1.6 THP

165 Prestige

DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, front, action
DS 3, cabrio front action
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, side, static
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, front, static
DS 3, cabrio rear action 2
DS 3, cabrio rear action
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, rear, static
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, dashboard
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, interior
DS 3 Cabrio, 2016, boot

THE car that got the whole DS ball rolling is now a fully-fledged member of Citroen's upmarket offshoot DS family.

Back in 2010 the Citroen DS3 was a trailblazer for what some might have thought was an experiment at the time - creating a premium brand within a brand.

It's hitherto worked for the likes of Toyota with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti, so why not Citroen.

But even Citroen must have been surprised at the success of the DS3, which turned out to be nothing short of a sensation doing much to invigorate and redefine the marque.

Since then almost 400,000 of them have been sold, with Britain proving the biggest fans - even more than the French with 100,000 sold here.

As the DS brand has evolved in its own right the cars have come to be badged as DS rather than Citroen cars, with the DS 4 and DS 5 already given the ‘DS' treatment.

As of the start of this year the DS 3 fully joined the club and is now very much a DS rather than a Citroen.

The change is most evident by the absence of the familiar Citroen chevrons, so instead the grille displays distinctive DS lettering - and there's now a gap between DS and 3 with the name

The revamped DS 3 has a whole new nose in fact that helps keep it looking fresh and contemporary, though to be fair it's a car whose timeless design has aged little since 2010, even if it did have a few tweaks and tucks in 2014.

It also gets a new interior and personalisation options have also been further enhanced.

The engine line-up has also been expanded, meaning there really is something for everyone with models more suited to serving as a stylish runabout to an all-out 210bhp performance-focused hatch.

A new engine available is a 130bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo version of PSA's PureTech petrol unit.

The range starts off with the modestly priced PureTech 82 model at £13,995. It features a three-cylinder non-turbo petrol unit and there's another three-cylinder that sits between the two power-wise. Differing versions of a 1.6-litre diesel are also available, along with a 1.6-litre petrol unit.

Wisely the basic lines of the DS3 have been little altered - why mess with a winning formula - but perhaps the biggest changes come in terms of instrumentation and technology.

The cockpit is now characterised by fewer controls and there's a seven-inch touchscreen which operates pretty much everything. It might seem a little fiddly at first but once you get used to it it makes perfect sense.

And keeping pace with the unstoppable march of technology there are new connectivity systems compatible with Apple and Android link-ups. Other additions include parking sensors and a rear view camera, as well as hill start assist on manual models.

The DS3 comes in two body styles Hatchback and Cabrio. The Cabrio maximises the fun factor and represents a perfect halfway house between a conventional hardtop and a convertible.

The powered fabric roof rolls back and you can essentially let as much sun in as you wish.

A bit like the personalisation options on the DS3 the permutations are virtually limitless.

Put simply you can stop the folding process at any point. So, slide it back slightly and it serves as an enlarged sunroof. Go a little further to the rear and it feels like a convertible that offers more protection from the elements.

Fully retracted it has more of the feel of a full-on convertible, though you are still somewhat cosseted.

Be warned though, that folding roof comes at a price - and not just the £2,300 premium it elicits over a hatchback. The Cabrio's design means it has a curious post box style opening that poses more than a few challenges when it comes to loading and unloading your belongings - and it's not that big either.

As well as being a hit from a design and style perspective, the DS3 is also a decent driver's car - one of the best Citroen have delivered in quite some time. It might not be able to quite match one of its main competitors, the MINI, but it doesn't disappoint and it certainly trumps the MINI in terms of interior space.

Fun, spirited and engaging, with responsive and well-weighted steering and handling that matches its sporty styling.

The 1.6-litre 210bhp Performance model is out on its own but this 1.6-litre 163bhp turbo also impresses, thanks to a power hike over the previous version.

It's a smooth and sweet engine and it doesn't fare too badly in terms of economy either though in the real world you'll be unlikely to emulate the claimed combined economy figure.

FAST FACTS

DS 3 Cabrio 1.6 THP 165 Prestige

Price: £21,595

Mechanical:163bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Combined MPG:50.4

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 129g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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