They don't come more convertible than the Citroën Pluriel and Elizabeth Skerritt finds that it could do wonders for your social life

As the wettest summer since 1912 squelches to a close, this is perhaps as good a time as any to reflect upon the joys and disappointments of convertible motoring.

As the wettest summer since 1912 squelches to a close, this is perhaps as good a time as any to reflect upon the joys and disappointments of convertible motoring.

After all, the British buy more convertibles per head than any other European nation, which rather suggests that we like our cars set up to make the most of whatever sunshine we see. And there is no convertible on the market today quite as convertible as the multi-purpose Citroën C3 Pluriel.

The Pluriel, as Citroën is keen to point out, can be used as a conventional hatchback, a targa top, full cabrio or a pick up. In its latest guise, in plush "Exclusive" special edition trim it adds one more possible variant - mini luxury saloon. But there is, as I discovered, a bit of a snag.

It may be just me, but seems that convertible cars are more sociable than their hard-top cousins and the Pluriel is more sociable than most. It provokes flirtatious behaviour. I had not been driving the Citroën C3 Pluriel for five minutes when a friendly cabbie leaned out of his window, gave the car a once over and nodded his approval at me with a wink. At the next set of lights I was invited to a party by the occupant of a Ford Escort cabriolet and although, needless to say, neither I nor the Pluriel made it to the gig, driving in rush hour traffic has rarely been such a pleasure.

This how to make friends in a Pluriel. All it takes is a twiddle of a button (with the car stationary or moving) to slide the concertina-ed roof effortlessly back to reveal the top of the cabin. Electric windows, without a central pillar, mean opening all four leaves you with an open-air jeep feeling and the gadgetry does not stop there.

One movement allows the entire rear windscreen to flip in to a space under a dummy floor in the boot, still allowing access to storage, and you can go one step further and remove both sidebars from the roof leaving you with a true convertible car.

The only drawback: When (in this country) can you be sure the weather will hold out even for half and hour? And, while surprisingly light, the bars are still fairly unwieldy and have to be stored somewhere else while you drive - not ideal if you, like me, live in a flat up four flights of stairs. That is a big snag.

I notice that the little Smart Roadster performs a similar trick with removable roof rails, but its dinky proportions mean that the Smart's roof rails can be stored in the boot. It's a pity this isn't possible in the Pluriel.

The Pluriel, in all its moods, is a car that looks great and is a pleasure to drive, especially with the addition of executive-car-style leather seats, air-conditioning and an "aluminium pack" for the exterior trim featured on the Exclusive model I tested. A family of four would struggle with the limited space in the back seats and there is little boot capacity (although the rear seats can fold completely flat), but I liked the way the tailgate window opens separately for loading and for a cabriolet the rear visibility is excellent. If you need to carry high loads, the pick-up mode makes that task much easier.

The C3 makes no pretence of being sporty; the steering is not particularly responsive and although it feels pretty solid on the motorway the 1.4-litre engine does 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds with a top speed of 101mph. The standard 1.4i model is available for £12,095 on the road and the 1.4i Exclusive for £13,495. There is also the larger engined 1.6i available for £13,695 and an economical 1.4 litre diesel option.

Best of all, Citroën is currently offering £1,500 cash back on all Pluriel models. All in all, a small price to pay to make a lot of new friends.

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