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Citroën DS 3 review: Lifting the lid

By Roger St. Pierre with Hazel Kempster

Citroën’s spin-off DS Automobiles brand got itself off to a flying start by filling the company’s dealership showrooms with a range of DS3 models showcasing what the marketing people describe as ‘Uncompromising originality’.

The DS 3 Carboy certainly fills the bill: “Somewhere between design inspiration and practical reality, the spark of originality is often compromised – but not with DS,” runs the corporate line.

Park the diminutive Cabrio soft-top version outside your local supermarket and reactions from passers-by will run the full gamut from full-throttle admiration to exhaust-blowing dislike but nobody is ever going to assert that this is just another lookalike. Distinctive is not an adjective that can be applied to many of today’s cars but it certainly applies here – as it does, to be fair – with two of the DS 3’s closest competitors, the Mini and the Fiat 500.

It might have a touch of the hairdresser’s wheels styling-wise but slip into the driver’s seat – a far easier operation than in many cars of similar size, even if, like me, you have gangly legs – and you’ll find a supportive and very comfortable seat, chunky controls that have sussed out all the optimum places to be mounted, and clear instrumentation.

The suspension is a tad on the hard side but that’s a small price to pay for limpet-like roadholding and pin-sharp steering response.

With a stubby aluminium gear level to wiggle around, changes are smooth and positive though for someone with big feet the pedals are a bit too close together, which makes it too easy to hit the brakes and the accelerator at the same time.

The full-length folding cloth roof is easy to operate with just a simple fore and aft toggle switch to push and requiring just 16 seconds to transform a cosy coupé into a sophisticated sun trap – an operation that can be carried out at any speed up to 70 mph. With its rather odd way of opening, the boot is a different matter, difficult to load, hard to see inside, though the odd configuration of the mechanicals means luggage space is more generous than in most competing drop-tops.

Various trim levels are available, with prices ranging from £16,295 for the entry level Chic up to £24,795 for the souped-up Performance Black rendition. Our test car was the £24,795 DS 3 Cabrio Prestige BlueHDI 120, to give its full title.

Standard kit includes cruise control and speed limiter, electronic stability control, hill start assist and such little niceties as a scented air freshener, 3D effect LED rear lights, tinted rear windows and a 12 volt accessories socket.

With plenty of space within a compact footprint, the DS 3 is a charming little fun car that’s eminently practical too.

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