Citroën adds al-fresco driving option with the new DS3 Cabrio

The Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux) featured a full-width canvas sunroof that would roll-up from the boot to the front windscreen. It was an ingeniously cost-efficient car which CAR magazine journalist LJK Setright described as “the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car”.

So what do we make of Citroën’s new DS3 Cabrio?

Car makers usually follow the Cabrio route as an inexpensive alternative to a full convertible, but it has its limitations, especially due to the more complex measures required to minimise wind buffeting and aerodynamic drag.

Citroën are playing up the benefits gained in space and weight over the more popular convertible design adopted by their competitors. The DS3 Cabrio is just 25kg heavier than its hatchback sibling, which they reckon is around 25% of the typical hatchback to convertible weight gain.

And because the passenger compartment remains the same layout as the hatch, Citroën proudly boast that it’s the only adult 5-seater in its class – with the largest boot in its class (since it doesn’t need to accommodate the trappings of a folding cabriolet roof).

They’re also keen to remind us that the DS3 Cabrio’s roof can be opened or closed at speeds of up 75mph (i.e. motorway speeds), a feat which it achieves in just 16 seconds. There are three roof positions; intermediate, horizontal and total – with the latter two positions providing rear passengers with a completely clear view overhead.

The cabrio’s folding roof retains the floating design of its fixed-roof counterpart, with its ‘shark fin’ rear spoiler and is available in a range of colours and designs – either one of seven body colours and a choice of three designs – black, Infinite blue and DS Monogramme.

The Infinite blue soft-top uses three different coloured threads – one of which is shiny – each reacting differently to changes in light conditions and creating delicate hues of blue and violet.

The fabulously simple Citroën 2CV – a very different kind of car to Citroën’s latest cabrio.

The DS logo features on the Monogramme roof in a subtle design achieved by two contrasting Jacquard grey tones with Moondust grey.

The dashboard strip, air vent surrounds and gear stick knob are also colour-coded to the body paint and soft-top colour, with six decors available including; grey, Brilliant black, white, Carbotech, Infinite blue and Moondust grey.

Which begs the question, “why did Citroën choose to adopt a cabrio roof?” It’s clearly not a budget model like its forbearer, although it will have cost Citroën considerably less than developing a full convertible roof. Let’s hope customers agree that its benefits outweigh its inherent flaws and the new Cabrio chalks up another success for the award-winning DS brand.

The DS3 Cabrio will premiere at Paris Motor Show next month, before being launched in early 2013. Prices will be confirmed nearer launch.

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