Blog: Glenn BrooksThe Citroen that will spin its rear wheels

Glenn Brooks | 1 February 2013

The DS3 Cabrio was on display at Citroen UK

The DS3 Cabrio was on display at Citroen UK's drive event but no driving allowed - the media launch is yet to take place

Can you name the model? Yesterday I saw for myself that not all Citroen vehicles are front-wheel drive. One of them can be RWD in certain conditions.

It was while a colleague was reversing the DS5 Hybrid4 in the carpark that I saw its rear wheels throw up gravel before the software instantly intervened to stop them. The silence of the engine was the clue as to what was going on: in true hybrid style, the car moves on energy stored in its batteries at low speeds, so if you push your foot down hard enough, you can accidentally spin the back wheels. This is a front-wheel drive car, of course, but with PSA's Hybrid4 system, electric drive goes only to the rear axle. You can also make the DS5 a 4x4 at the turn of of a rotary controller on the centre console.

Citroen UK had brought along not just the DS5 but most of its other newest model variants for journalists to drive at a venue west of London, so it was great to sample quite a few of these updated cars. I tried the C4, as well as two cars with a new 115hp version of PSA's HDi engine: the C3 Picasso and the DS3.

It wasn't all about new diesel cars; I also sampled the 1.2-litre petrol PureTech engine that PSA's Metz-Trémery powertrain plant also supplies for the Peugeot 208. The C3 is the first Citroen model to have this EB series three-cylinder unit, which isn't an additional choice but instead replaces the now former 1.4 four-cylinder. A 1.0-litre PureTech will follow but for now, Citroen is not saying which model(s) it might be for. I'm guessing next year's C1 replacement.

The DS3 Cabrio was on static display ahead of its launch in the Spring. The new derivative is a five-seater (just) unlike its Mini and Fiat 500 rivals and the UK is expected to be one of the car's largest markets. The boot is elaborately-hinged and glides upwards, rather than dropping down. I was surprised by just how much space it has - Citroen claims 245 litres, versus 125 for the Mini. I asked about the roof system and learned the identity of the supplier: Webasto.

A full review of the DS5, soon to be available in 88g/100km form, will follow on just-auto on Monday. I'll also share some interesting facts on how the UK market has changed for Citroen: who knew that the DS3 is now the brand's best seller?


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