Motoring review: Citroën DS3 Cabrio

Roll out the barrel for this roll-roofed French beauty.

Price: from £15,045 (£19,680 as tested) Engine capacity: 1.6-litre petrol
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 155 @ 6,000
Top speed (mph): 132
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.2
Fuel economy (mpg): 47.9 CO2 emissions (g/km): 137

There are a couple of schools of thought as to the best use for a convertible. Is it zipping around the city attracting envious glances as your hair balloons to double its normal volume? Or is it ballooning through the countryside getting smacked in the face with mayflies, but able to take in the fresh air?

There's no contest if you're like me and sick of the city fumes. So, as soon as the DS3 Cabrio – Citroën's 2013 soft-top re-up of its popular 2010 DS3 supermini – arrived outside my house, I turned its dinky, sporty wheel towards the coast.

Obviously, this was Britain in May, so I spent most of the week with the DS3's hood up. But the thought was there. And the DS3 Cabrio is certainly fun enough to take for a roll on the country roads with its hat on, regardless.

The DS3 won plaudits for its sporty, two-toned looks. The Cabrio, which launched this spring for the summer months, improves it if anything. It's still not quite the wonder that its name hints at (déesse is French for goddess) but there's something alluring about its sporty grill and road-hugging backside.

I tested the 1.6-litre, six-speed DS3 from the top end of the new Cabrio range, and found it hit the right parts of the road in town and, especially, the country. It's agile enough to handle the narrow bends at fair speeds – nipping, tucking, ducking and diving around corners like Wiggo on a training run. It's fine on the highway, too, the THP 155 version I tested makes the most of a six-speed gearbox and its good fuel economy make it a useful mini-cruiser.

Its interior helps, too. Despite an arm rest that got in the way of the handbrake, it's a comfy drive. The small wheel gives the driver plenty of clambering-in room, while the controls are intuitive and the trip-computer/entertainment unit take only a few minutes play to get up to speed.

Whether it's worth the extra £2,625 for the Cabrio version might depend on whereabouts in the country you live (I wouldn't bother in Manchester or Belfast, put it that way).

Flaw-wise, it's a minor shame that the frame of the DS3 dictates that this soft-top is only a folding roof rather than fully retractable – it folds back above the rear seats and the rear columns remain. It's more a retractable ceiling than a roof. That's not a dealbreaker by any means, though. First, there's the fact that you're well hidden from the wind with this easy-to-use button-powered device and secondly, there's the notoriously unreliable British weather to contend with.

There are a couple of other minor quibbles. The DS3's trunk is not quite as small as it looks, but a tiny entrance hole means you may end up having to physically shove larger bags into the boot – even if it is a decent size on the inside (245l).

On the other hand, the boot cover pleasingly rises vertically up, which is great for tight supermarket parking spaces. Also, sizewise, the backseats are roomy, enough to justify Citroën's boast that it's the "only genuine five-seater in its class". I managed to fit five adults in with relative ease. It's no family all-rounder by any means, but as a fun knockabout for two it's great competition for its rival in class – the Mini and Fiat 500 convertibles.

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