Sunny side up for new Citroen Cabriolet
This sibling of the hatchback DS3 supermini, launched in 2010, embodies the original's DNA but with an added dollop of design pzazz.
It has sold in trailer-loads in the UK and now claims a 24pc market share in its segment there. In contrast, the DS3 has captured only a modest 5pc of the cake here.
However, Citroen believes that's because of its concentration in recent times on re-structuring its Irish operations rather than devoting resources to intensive local promotion of the car.
Now, though, it feels the time has come to capitalise on its proven potential by lifting the lid on its new, petite but sturdy convertible.
Admittedly, in Cabrio guise, it slots into "a niche within a niche" but, on the evidence of a brief first drive in Valencia last week, it's likely to provide stern competition for established rivals, like the Fiat 500C and Mini Convertible.
Interestingly, Citroen revealed that, it plans to launch at least three new models, two saloons and, for the first time, an SUV.
The cabrio gets here in March when we can aspire to some sunshine. The car's motorised, three-stage canvas-covered roof takes just 16 seconds to fully retract even at speeds of up to 75mph.
The test car, with a refined and punchy six-speed THP 155 turbocharged engine, will be on sale here along with another petrol and a diesel variant.
Pricing, like exact specification, has not yet been confirmed but expect the DS3 DSign VTI 82 (4.9l/100km; 112 Co2g/km) to cost around €21,195; the DStyle e-HDi 90 Airdream EGS6 (3.8, 99) €25,045; and the DS3 DSport THP 155 (5.9, 137), €25,545, excluding related charges.
With five or six-speed manual gearboxes, economy of up to 57.6mpg is claimed. This impressed with assured handling and zesty acceleration and seems destined, at the least, to tempt buyers.
Among the design highlights are that agile roof and new eye-catching 3D tailgate light housings.
It can also be customised and coloured to taste, inside and out in myriad ways. It is likely to score significantly over its rivals in terms of space. Citroen claims – unusually for a convertible – it can accommodate five adults. The boot manages 245 litres of storage compared with the MINI (125) and Fiat 500C (185).
In practice, though, for maximum comfort three adults in the rear would need to be of modest proportion, while the boot lid which slides upwards rather than falling out flat reveals a tight opening which will only accept about three Ryanair-sized cases.
Keen golfers may find fitting in the clubs a bit of a struggle without re-configuring 60/40 rear cabin seating.
Visibility is good, if compromised a little to the rear with roof down. The seats are firm and comfortable. Effective insulation keeps road noise to a minimum.
Citroen expects to sell 20 here this year. It's a figure which takes account of our adverse climate and depressed mood.
However, if either should improve the estimate could be conservative.