Many cars strive to be different, to create their own unique identity amidst a sea of others trying to do the same. DS is a relatively new company, since becoming its own entity within PSA, and it trades on an avant-grarde attitude. The 2017 DS 3 Cabrio Performance takes the familiar DS 3 recipe and turns it up to 11. As if a posh hot hatchback wasn’t different enough, this is the convertible incarnation. Certainly something unusual amongst competitors.
The DS 3 transformation was a masterful metamorphosis as it went from a funky Citroen product to a reborn, much more premium, DS model. It’s higher social status is denoted by the “DS wings” front facia that incorporates a wide grill and intricate headlights. Design elements such as that prominent shark fin have been retained. Being the Performance model it is endowed with a set of black 18 inch alloy wheels of which contrasted the white paintwork of our test car. The lower ride hight certainly makes the car appear meaner than standard, notably more hunkered down. One of the great things about the DS 3 retaining its door frames, as opposed to being a complete chop-top, is that it retains a definitive roofline. Visually it looks good come rain or shine.
Retract the fabric top and let the natural light hit a set of sporty racing seats. These things are man eaters with plenty of bolstering to provide support. Another racy detail is the real carbon fibre that lines the doors and makes up part of the steering wheel. A glossy dashboard is the canvas for the DS Performance stripes with the centre console playing host to a touchscreen infotainment display. Said unit utilises CarPlay for iPhones and Mirror Link for Android devices as well as providing all of your navigational needs. The rear bench seats three, however, those aforementioned seats do cut into leg room. With the roof down or partially open, whichever takes your fancy, you are protected from the elements thanks to this car keeping its side structures. DS 3 Cabros do have an achilles heel when it comes to the boot. Whilst space is good at 245 litres, its narrow opening limits its practical uses.
Under the bonnet is where things really start to spice up. A 1.6 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine produces 207 BHP of which is enough to get it from 0-62 MPH in 6.5 seconds! With that statement any notion of this being a “hairdressers car” goes out of the window. Find yourself on a twisting country road and the DS 3 Cabrio Performance reveals itself to be exceedingly quick. Once the turbo is spooled up, 300Nm of torque flings you towards the horizon at an impressive rate of knots. Whilst there isn’t a particularly naughty exhaust note, the scenery turning to a blur and you being sucked back into your seat is more than enough to let you know that this is one of the fastest cars in its class. A slick 6 speed manual transmission is pleasing to use as you tip the DS into another series of bends. Ample grip is provided by a set of sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres of which, once combined with a little heat, really do glue this car to the road. The steering is very precise but lacks feedback making it feel a bit less involving than rivals. There is also a drawback of going for the DS 3 Cabrio Performance over the tin-top… Naturally removing a section of the roof means it isn’t as rigid as its counterpart and so loses some of that finesse. The ride is quite hard too, thanks to a stiff set-up and those large alloy wheels, but the trade is for utterly unflappable body control. It corners flat and level through sweeping bends further allowing you to exploit its performance. And yet, put it on a motorway or stretch of coastal road with the roof down, it will happily reengage its roll as a fashionable hatchback.
The DS 3 Cabrio Performance is certainly a niche product and so you needn’t worry about bumping into another, but in that respect its unique attitude to being a hot hatch makes it less fun to drive than key rivals. Undeniably capable, but less involving because it is bringing table manners to a segment that enjoys having a food fight. £23,790 is the price of exclusivity, but if you have your heart set on this car, we would recommend the hard-top DS 3 Performance.