Diesel dreams are made of this

Citroen DS3 Cabrio DStyle eHDi Airdream
Citroen DS3 Cabrio DStyle eHDi Airdream

As open cars go, the Citroen DS3 Cabrio isn’t the most committed thing, but instead pursues compromise with some determination.

The folding fabric section of the roof leaves all of the side pillars in place so you still get the DS3’s sharky silhouette with a modicum of soft top feel.

It’ll appeal to those who think they might like a soft top sometimes. A little bit. And in e-HDi diesel form, a little sensibility is added to the mix too.

The e-HDI 90 Airdream variant we’re looking at here is currently the sole diesel DS3 Cabrio option, with a 1.6-litre HDi unit game enough to propel the car to 62mph in 12.5s.

Although the driving position may not suit everyone with its widely spaced and slightly offset pedals (and the view to the rear is heavily compromised when the roof is folded down), the DS3 Cabrio’s inherent rigidity means that it doesn’t lose a great deal to its had top sibling in terms of handling ability – and the roof adds just 25kg to its weight. Wind buffeting can usually be overcome by adjusting the position of the fabric roof slightly. It’s very flexible – in that regard at least.

Perhaps calling this car a ‘cabrio’ is going a bit far. If we were being entirely truthful, it’s a DS3 with a giant fabric sunroof that slides back into a rather ungainly concertina. Still, what it lacks in engineering boldness it makes up for in ease of use and even a degree of practicality.

The roof is easy enough to use. Just prod a button by the rear-view mirror and it’ll do its thing at speeds of up to 75mph. That’s because it just runs back in its tracks without folding like a conventional soft top. A second press of the same button will send the roof right back over the rear seats.

The Citroen DS3 Cabrio isn’t exactly rocket science. In fact, some might accuse it of being slightly lazy car design; that it’s a half-baked attempt at making an open-topped car. They would be missing the point though.

This is the sort of car that many buyers in this country want and here’s why. We don’t get to drop the tops too often in a country where it can rain for 200 days in a year. Therefore it doesn’t really make much sense lugging around a 200kg folding hard top roof for the rest of the time. The DS3 Cabrio represents an elegant solution that retains most of the character and style of the hatchback model it’s based on.

If you’re really intent on getting the full al fresco experience, it might disappoint a little. There are still door pillars to look past. If you’re okay with that and just want to feel the sun once in a while without the wobbly body or lumpen styling of most small cabriolets, this one could be a winner, an especially sensible choice in e-HDi diesel form. I’d back the DS3 Cabrio to be one of the outside successes of this year.