EngineTurbo 1.6L I4
Power204 HP / 203 LB-FT
0-60 Time6.5 Seconds (0-62)
Top Speed145 MPH
Curb Weight2,714 LBS
MPG32 City / 58 HWY (Euro)
Base Price29,310 pounds
Citroën first launched the DS3 Racing back in 2010 with a limited run of 1,000 examples, all clad in dark gray with (optional) bright-orange accents. Production was further extended to a total of 2,400 units, but after those all sold out, the French automaker followed up in 2013 with 200 additional examples, this time with an opening roof panel, a matte anthracite finish and metallic red trim. Since Citroën does not compete in the North American market, we recently took the opportunity to drive it at Millbrook Proving Ground in the UK to see what all the fuss is about.
- The Chevron marque's pocket rocket is based on its avant-garde Mini challenger: a pseudo-premium hatchback geared towards fashion-conscious urban-dwellers, sans the retro styling favored by the Cooper Hardtop. This being a Cabrio, it also features a fabric roof opening (similar to that of the Fiat 500C), letting in the fresh air and sunshine without sacrificing much structural rigidity. Unfortunately, typically British heavy rain precluded us from opening it up, so the only difference we noticed was the restricted rear visibility and a bit more ambient noise in the cabin.
- Power in the Racing model comes from a 1.6-liter turbo four (the same jointly developed BMW/PSA Prince engine as you'd find in a second-gen Mini Cooper S) driving 204 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed manual transmission to the front wheels. Despite the extra 143 pounds added by the retractable roof, Citroën quotes the same 6.5-second 0-62 time and a top speed of 145 miles per hour. Keep the turbo spooled up and it feels at least that quick.
- Those figures make the DS3 Cabrio Racing incrementally more powerful and quicker than the Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo, or (to put it in American context) the Ford Fiesta ST. In terms of power and performance, it's in another league from the Fiat 500 Abarth and splits the difference fairly evenly between the Mini Cooper S and JCW.
- Beyond the engine upgrade, Citroën Racing (the department responsible for the company's winning WRC and WTCC entries) has equipped this go-fast DS3 with a lower and more aggressive suspension, beefier brakes and upgraded rolling stock. The result is a ride that's sportingly firm but sufficiently compliant, and a body that pitches and rolls with the G-forces just enough to tell the driver what's going on.
- Inside the well-appointed cabin, you'll find a fully adjustable driving position, seats that are both supportive and comfortable, and meaty steering wheel and aluminum pedals that provide reassuring feedback.
- Better yet, the DS3's chassis is smooth and agile and the shifter has one of the smoothest actions we can recall – a stark contrast to the Renault's oft-derided DCT. Even the exhaust note is sufficiently inspiring for a turbo four.
- Turbocharger aside, the Citroën DS3 Cabrio Racing feels decidedly linear and old-school compared to its chief rival that's added doors and clutches in pursuit of a wider appeal.
You might say that's just as well, since the DS3 isn't available in the United States, but it's with the DS brand that parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën is rumored to be plotting its 2020 return to North America. By the time it does, there'll likely be a new DS3 to replace this now five-year-old model line. Here's hoping it'll include a performance version as good as this one – one which we can actually get our hands on... at a far more reasonable price.