Sunday – Comfortable Cruiser


Jeremy With the safety car out at Silverstone, the British Grand Prix has been running at ‘road car’ speeds. Not sure I’d want to be out there in the V40 though – mainly because even in R-Design trim, the Volvo lacks a little precision going hard into a corner.

Unfortunately, as much as I like the look of the Volvo, the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 are both much better drivers cars. That’s a situation confirmed by the V40’s rather soggy clutch that doesn’t really encourage you to push the V40 along on a twisty A-road.

The ride itself is on the soft side – which makes the V40 a more comfortable long distance cruiser than a spirited drive. If you are buying a V40 to sit on the motorway all day, that is definitely the right call because it has a big car feel and a very quiet cabin.




Saturday – Start Me Up


Jeremy I’ve got no idea what car Mick Jagger drives but it probably isn’t a Volvo. I know he stuffed his DB6 in a well-publicised accident in London in 1966 but even a quick tweak of the internet hasn’t come up with any more recent answers.

I should ask Jessica because she had a dance with him a few years back – I can see him in an S-Class, an Aston or one of the very latest Range Rovers that ooze quality from every rivet. You’re right – he probably has all three.

If he didn’t want to get spotted leaving a gig then the V40 would do the job. It’s fairly anonymous if he doesn’t want to get seen and, if he does, well it also rather cool in a kind of ‘man of the people’ something different type way.

Driving the V40 around this weekend, it’s turned plenty of heads. The profile looks long, low and very slippery, while sitting in the driver’s seat, it’s a very well thought out cockpit. I’m feeling less than anonymous.

Right, I’m off to watch the Stones do Glastonbury. The great unwashed will be passing my door tomorrow night and Monday on their way back home. If you are one of them and see Mick climbing into something interesting, do let us know…

Friday – Sweden vs Germany


Jeremy There’s something endearing, likeable and rather ‘safe’ about the V40. Stepping into the cabin this morning was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. The last Volvo I owned was an 340, back in the 1980s. It was my father’s choice – he was paying – as the one car even I couldn’t get hurt in.

I traded the 340 in for an Alfa Romeo as quickly as possible and quickly regretted it. My student grant didn’t extend to major rust treatment on a monthly basis… Had that first flirtation with Volvo been a secondhand V40, I would probably still be driving it now.

V40 is the replacement model for the S40 and V50 and it needs to be good to beat the best of German. Well, it certainly has a more distinct look than a VW Golf, or the exceptional Audi A3. It probably holds it own about the BMW 1 Series too, although I have to say, I think the new Mercedes A-class might be the winner for best design.

From the rear, the V40 in R-Design trim looks amazing. The twin tailpipes and small rear screen tick lots of boxes. Nose on, it’s on a par with the German competition. Which begs the question, is the V40 good enough to tempt Audi/BMW/VW drivers away from their normal car purchase?

That could well come down to the driving experience and I shall give my verdict on that tomorrow…



Thursday – Super-Safe Hatch


Jeremy Our V40 is going to require some serious understanding if we are going to get the maximum out of it over the next seven days. Why? Well, underneath that long, lean profile is a car packed with the very latest in safety equipment.

I’ve just spent half an hour in the car swotting up on everything – and I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface. However, the key feature I can’t wait to try is Park Assist Pilot, which will parallel park the car for me without any need to touch the steering wheel! I’m sure every car will have this feature in the future but I still can’t believe it will park better, or more safely than me.

One standard feature on V40 I hope I don’t get to try is the under bonnet pedestrian airbag. As part of the Driver Support Pack, there’s also full-speed collision warning, which alerts the driver to a potential impact,  plus blind spot monitoring, road sign information and much more!

This has to be the safest car I’ve ever driven. I’m sure it’s going to shout something nasty if I spill my coffee or listen to crap music on the radio. It’s that sophisticated I’m just wondering where the next warning signal is going to come from…

Wednesday – The Handbag Car


Jessica The ds3 is what I would call a handbag car. It offers, as any decent handbag should,  good design, functionality and  is sized for purpose.  Anya Hindmarch it is not,  however, references to the old Citroen aesthetic, via careful design and innovative dashboard features puts it firmly in the running for a future classic.

Inside, it feels roomy, without the go-cart feel of other small cars, such as the Mini. The Citroen drives as if it has a more substantial stature, with pleasing power and road holding.  The seats (which generally are a cause for concern for me, particularly on long journeys) are exceptionally comfortable, this combined with a big drive feel means the DS3 does not have to be a short hop, urban car.

I did have a bad moment when I was forced to look through the driver manual to identify a small button on the dash board. That made me realise how many times I have rooted through one of these tedious books to find specific information. Why is it so tricky to make them a clear and logical read?

Why can’t manufacturers provide an online manual, also available on the in car computer, which only refers to the model you are actually driving, thus saving paper, costs and preventing drivers from manual rage!

The button I eventually discovered was for air freshener ( I thought it was a little movable light !). I’m not sure what that says about the potential demographic but it does look appealing as a physical feature.

Jeremy I doubted Citroen could make a car to rival the Mini. I was wrong. The DS3 is an exceptionally good hatchback and combines all that is best about Citroen – unconventional styling, leftfield think – into a very smart little car. The slick roof operation, comfortable seats and willing engine are the highlights for me. I’m now looking forward to testing the DS5.

Tuesday – 180


Jeremy There are 180 good reasons why the roof on the DS3 Cabrio works so well but one word sums them all up – Webasto. The specialist convertible roof supplier has a history of making sliding soft-tops that dates back to 1901.

The DS3 roof is made up of 180 different parts in a co-build between Citroen and Webasto. It works brilliantly – even better than my 1969 MGB GT, which sported a fantastically simple but beautifully designed sliding Webasto sunroof too.

The DS3 Cabrio roof is operated by a one-touch button next to the rear-view mirror. It powers all the way back but does make the Citroen cabin very windy when fully retracted. There is a small wind deflector for back seat passengers but it works best when the roof is only folded back half-way – especially at high speeds.

Citroen has taken the DS3 roof design very seriously indeed, with a rigorous testing programme during the design stages. It’s certainly worked a lot better than the old Citroen C3 Pluriel. When that car was launched, a friend was awaiting delivery of a test car, only to receive a phone call saying the roof had blown off en route!

Trust me, that won’t happen with the DS3. It has one of the best folding roofs available for a car costing this sort of money.





Monday – Weightwatcher


Jeremy I think I’ve found out why the DS3 is such a nifty little mover – it’s all down to weight. Turning any car into a convertible means beefing up the structural integrity of the body, usually compromised by chopping off the roof. Then you have the extra weight of the roof folding mechanism itself to add to the equation.

So, far from being lighter, cabrios often tip the scales in the wrong direction. The DS3 is different. Like its Fiat 500C rival, the cars B and C-pillars (the metalwork around the windows) remains in place, keeping the structural rigidity intact. According to the Fiat press blurb, this means the Cabrio is only 25kg heavier than the hatch!

On the road, this translates into a convertible that feels exceptionally sharp turning into a corner, with none of the rattle and body shake associated with soft-tops in the past. Great fun for a car that is essentially a hatchback with the roof peeled off.

I have also finally managed the get the DAB radio working today! It’s obviously an aftermarket fit for UK customers, which makes operation less integrated than a lot of other cars. That said, it works, although as far as I can work out it does not flash the chosen station onto the screen, making station selection harder.


Sunday – Rain Stops Play


Jeremy We’re just back from the England vs India cricket final at Edgbaston. Suffice to say, we have a convertible on test at the moment so the weather was appalling and not a single ball was bowled while we were there. So we decided to leave at 3.30…. and then the game started as we drove back down the M5!

With rain lashing down, at least the little D3’s 155bhp petrol engine can perk me up a bit. Maybe it ‘s just the compact size of the Citroen but it feels faster 0-60mph than the official 8.2 seconds claimed. The six-speed transmission is also very precise and just encourages you to flick up and down through the gears at leisure.

I’m not very sure anybody actually realises this is a convertible either. If I hadn’t told Jessica the Citroen had a soft -top, I’m sure she wouldn’t have guessed. Well, until she hit the motorway and the wind noise went up several decibels.

I’ve also decided the postbox boot, hinged to open upwards, isn’t for me. The aperture for putting items in is too small and to reach inside means almost getting down on my knees.

Forecast for the rest of the week is looking better so let’s hope I can get the roof down properly soon.

Saturday – Classy Cabin


Jeremy – The choice for buyers looking for an affordable cabriolet with a soft-top rather than a folding metal roof probably comes down to the Fiat 500C, Mini Convertible or our new Ds3 Cabrio. All very different cars, each with styling that is going to split the buying public down the middle.

I’m warming to the DS3 because the cabin area is so much larger and it just feels like a bigger car when you are inside. This is especially true in the back, where there are three seats, instead of the two found in the Fiat and Mini.

The boot is still crazy small like its rivals – except the Citroen boot lid is hinged so that it slides vertically upwards on opening, a rather unique twist on conventional thinking which might be a nightmare for tall people loading bags because they have to bend down to see inside.

What has truly surprised me about the Ds3 is the interior. The leather seats in our car are deep and comfortable and there’s a touch of class about the dashboard that is a cut above the Mini. Over the shoulder vision is, however, non existent with the roof folded down.

And then there’s the quality of the fittings. Citroens never used to be this good! The DS3 is solid, with buttons and dials that could have come off a Mercedes. Even the big doors shut with a reassuring thud.

I’m off to watch the international cricket final in Birmingham tomorrow, so more words after that…

Friday – Man vs Machine


Jeremy Regular readers will know that I have an issue with cars that overcomplicate functions on the dashboard. If I can sit in a Hyundai or Peugeot and operate the DAB radio and Bluetooth without opening a manual, then why can’t I do it in other vehicles?

Citroen have made a pre-emptive strike with the DS3 test car – they have added a comprehensive, three page A4 guide in the press pack that explains all. In a spirit of fair play to other the motors Car Couture has tested, I opted to ignore the sheets and try to work it out for myself.

Forty minutes later in Waitrose car park and I’m really struggling – not only with DAB but forcing the Bluetooth function to match up with my iPhone. Back home, I can see why. The DS3 comes with a seperate, remote control unit about the size of a keyfob that is the fast-track to everything DAB. Now I just have to work out the Bluetooth issue.

So, round one to the DS3. I admit defeat but I imagine a lot of other DS3 drivers might have similar frustrating issues. While the Citroen has a dashboard that looks dynamic and stylish, wonderful seats and ‘big car’ comforts, form over function rather blots the copybook in this instance.