DS3 Cabrio (2015-2019)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

3dr Cabrio (1.2, 1.6 petrol, 1.6 diesel [Chic, Elegance, DSign, DStyle, DSport])


The DS3 stylised performance compact cabrio was first launched with Citroen badging back in 2013, then re-launched as a stand-alone DS product when DS became a brand in its own right in 2015. It's this later 'DS' DS3 Cabrio that we look at here, a car that saw the brand through the next four years to the period where it could create its own bespoke designs. The change from 'Citroen' to 'DS' branding in 2015 was accompanied by a few changes, a light model refresh adding fresh engine options, more media connectivity and greater scope for individuality with this Cabrio bodystyle. This DS3 Cabrio is anything but a conventional convertible – but then, that’s exactly why you might buy one.

The History

The small affordable cabriolet. It’s a lovely idea in principle, inexpensive open-roofed motoring for those rare occasions when the sun makes an appearance. In practice though, there are often frustrating compromises to be made in a car of this kind. Here’s one though, that doesn’t require you to make too many: the DS3 Cabrio.

Let us explain. Wouldn’t it be nice if a model of this sort didn’t buffet you roof-down and shimmy over bumps? Wouldn’t it be neat if you could react instantly to the weather and retract its top at almost any speed? And wouldn’t it be good if you could actually fit three people in the back if need be – and more than a token amount of luggage? None of the cars which most readily come to mind as affordable open-tops – say the MINI Convertible, the Fiat 500C or even the Mazda MX-5 – can satisfy on all these counts.

This one can. No, it’s not a full-blown convertible – but then the French DS brand argues that to be a good thing, the resultant design better suited to enjoyment of our testing roads and changeable climate. It was first introduced in 2013, back then bearing Citroen badges. After that though, the PSA Group launched DS as a unique stand-alone premium brand and upgraded previous Citroen DS models like this one to comfortably sit within that new marque’s growing product portfolio. Hence the re-launch of this car as the ‘DS3 Cabrio’ in the Spring of 2016, creating the car we're going to look at here.

There was more though, to this improved DS3 Cabrio than merely a different badge on the bonnet. Smarter styling was complemented by the addition of two fresh engines to the line-up, including one for the kind of properly potent hot hatch variant the standard model range had previously never had. There was also more equipment, extra scope for personalisation and, inside, extra media connectivity via a smartly hi-tech 7-inch colour touchscreen. It was all just about enough to sustain the car through to the end of 2019 when a new design based on a more modern CMP2 platform, the DS3 Crossback small SUV, took over.

What You Get

At first glance you’d be forgiven for not realising this to be a soft top variant at all. After all, the profile of this model is identical to that of its fixed-top counterpart, the fabric opening section limited to the very top of the car. Actually though, the roof mechanism is quite sophisticated, electrically operated by a button on the overhead console that, impressively, can retract the roof at any speed up to 75mph. Prodding the button once will slide the canvas back so that it concertinas above a rear screen. As with the folding tops provided by most rivals, you’ll find that when retracted, this one almost totally blocks rearward vision – hence the Cabrio variant’s standard parking sensors. When the whole thing’s open, there’s a pop-up wind deflector that springs out of the top roof rail to quell the worst of the turbulence.

Of course, when you do have the roof down, you don’t want it to take up so much space at the back that there’s no room for people or packages. In the DS3 Cabrio it doesn’t. Take rear cargo space, accessible via a cantilevered boot lid that rises neatly outwards and upwards in a circular motion that means you can open it even when parked close to obstructions.

What To Look For

We should start by pointing out that as a whole, DS3 Cabrio owners are a very happy bunch. If your perception of DS / Citroens corresponds with unreliability, then it’s time to change your perspective. The later post-2015-era DS3 range we’re looking at here comes from a time when most of the original post-2010 model’s teething issues had been sorted out. All that having been said, there have been faults reported and we found a number on our various surveys: you might want to look out for these on the used market.

On The Road

Under the bonnet of mainstream Cabrio models, there’s a wide choice of engines. For petrol people, there’s a choice of either a 1.2-litre three cylinder PureTech unit or a 1.6-litre THP powerplant. The ‘PureTech 110’ variant is the only one in the range offering the option of automatic transmission – the PSA Group impressively efficient EAT6 gearbox. For more performance, you’ll need the turbo THP unit. This was offered with 165bhp – or with 208bhp if you choose the ‘Performance’ hot hatch variant that was added in at the top of the range with the range to DS branding. This gets a wider track, lowered suspension, uprated brakes and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

As for diesel power, well there’s a choice of either 100 or 120bhp versions of the PSA Group’s usual 1.6-litre BlueHDi engine. Whatever engine you choose in your DS3, you should find the car good to drive: it certainly feels very different from the Citroen C3 supermini it’s based upon. And with this Cabrio bodystyle, there’s the added bonus of fresh air thrills whenever you want them.


It all means, in summary, that if you think you know this DS3 Cabrio, then you probably don’t. The brand letters stand for a ‘Different Spirit’ and in this updated form, this car aimed to offer just that. Of course, it’s not designed to suit someone really intent on getting the full al fresco experience. The looks don’t shout ‘convertible’ and there are still door pillars to look past. But if you're okay with that and just want to feel the sun once in a while from a small cabrio made in the 2015-2019 period. Without the wobbling bodywork, practical compromises and awkward styling of most small cabriolets, then this car could be exactly what you’ve been looking for.