Citroen's DS3 is characterized above all else by the sense of fun it engenders in those who drive it. It has impressed automotive journalists around the world since it was released two years ago, winning countless awards in both diesel and petrol form, for its sweet handling, spacious interior and frugality.
The DS3's range-topping turbocharged 152 kW (204 hp) 1.6 liter engine was developed jointly by Citroen, Peugeot and BMW, and can be found in several models from the Citroen, Peugeot and MINI ranges and it's a one of the sweetest motors in existence, having won its class in the International Engine of the Year Awards for the last SIX years running.
On top of that, the DS3's sporting pretensions are now unquestionable, as the car won both the World Rally Championship Drivers and Constructors titles at its first attempt in 2011 and it will win both championships again this year.
If that's not impressive enough, the car has had 22 starts at the highest level of the World Rally Championship and won 17 times – compare that with any other vehicle in any form of elite motorsport and you'll see just how successful the diminutive DS3 has been since it appeared in January last year. Though the dominance of eight-time WRC Drivers Champion Sébastien Loeb has influenced this record, Sébastien Ogier has also won five times in the car, so it's not just superman Loeb who is responsible for the record.
The punchline is that the super mini which has taken all before it in the last few years is about to become even more desirable thanks to the addition of a sliding top which combines a three-position convertible roof with the DS3's hatchback shape.
The photo gallery contains every image yet released by Citroen of the DS3 Cabrio, and although we won't see it in the metal until the Mondial de l'Automobile (Paris Motor Show) later this month, it will be in showrooms within six months and adds to an impressive array of special models already coined from the base DS3, though this incarnation is likely to be the most desirable to date.
It's hard to ignore the amount of awards the DS3 has won in such a short time - it is likely the most award-winning vehicle of recent automotive history, with BBC Top Gear's Car of the Year award in 2010, Womens World Car of the Year (shared) in 2011, Fifth Gear's Small Car of the Year in 2010, and Diesel Car's Car of the Year the main ones.
Considering its price bracket, that's an outstanding effort.
The big news though, is the new open-top driving option.
In almost every physical respect, the Cabrio is very close to identical to the other DS3s in the range, with identical physical proportions, an identical aerodynamic co-efficient (SCx of 0.69 m2), and an extremely modest 25 kg weight gain for the additional body strengthening required to maintain torsional rigidity (and that ever-so-sweet handling) without the roof. Weight increases of 100+ kg are common for such a conversion.
The three-stage roof will be available in three colors and true to Citroen's form, the designs are far from dull. There's the standard black, but the other two available designs are distinctive indeed, being Infinite blue and DS Monogramme.
The Infinite blue version uses three different colored threads, one of which is highly reflective, creating a design which subtly changes colors in varying light conditions to create a variety of delicate blue and violet hues.
The DS Monogrammed design features on DS logo in two contrasting Jacquard grey tones along with Moondust grey.
Citroen claims the soundproofing of the Cabrio with the roof closed is comparable to that of a normal hatchback, though presumably that means it isn't as good as the standard DS3, but at least in my book, that's a small price to pay for the open air option. The additional soundproofing for the soft-top is derived from a special material which lines the roof.
When the roof is open, an aerodynamic deflector pops up to provide optimum acoustic comfort by deflecting air currents and preventing air buffeting.
The electrically operated roof closes in 16 seconds, which might seem like an eternity in a hail storm, but this procedure can be done even at motorway speeds of 120 km/h (75 mph), so you won't need to wait until the next off-ramp if it begins to bucket down.
A button on the ceiling console toggles the roof through three positions: intermediate, horizontal and total. Even in the horizontal setting, rear passengers get a completely clear view overhead, and despite the recesses necessary to stow the top, it still fits five adults with the largest boot in the class at 245 liters.
All of the refined design and styling you'd expect of a Citroen are evident, but let's wait for the full story from Paris before we get carried away.