Also less than satisfying is the rear accommodation. Because the Fiat’s wheelbase measures just 2300mm (versus 2464mm for the DS 3), anyone taller than 1.5m is likely to experience some claustrophobia on the backseat if he or she has to endure a drive longer than 30 minutes.
The DS 3’s interior, on the other hand, has a much airier feel. There’s more headroom for all occupants, and the longer wheelbase means access to the backseat is also less tricky than in the 500C.
Also sure to please the driver is the DS 3’s cockpit, which is sportier and more sophisticated than the 500C’s. Features such as the carbon fibre-pattern dashboard trim, flat-bottom steering wheel and stubby gearshift lever enhance the French number’s cool factor.
Key to both cars’ cool quotient, though, is their sliding soft-top. It takes an estimated 20 seconds to open/close the 500C’s roof, and the top can be operated at speeds of up to 60km/h.
But considering our fickle weather, you’ll be better off in the DS 3, whose roof opens and closes in 16 seconds. The top can also be operated at up to 110km/h, which is handy if it suddenly rains while you’re cruising on the expressway.
Both cars have fairly similar levels of buffeting when driven topless, which is perfect for those who love coming to work with a tousled hairdo.
But if you want to blow-dry your hair in a hurry, then the DS 3 is your ride. With a turbocharged 3-pot producing 110bhp and 205Nm, and a slick-shifting 6-speed automatic, this hatchback can sprint from rest to 100km/h in 9.6 seconds – 1.4 seconds faster than the Fiat.
The 500C caters to sun-worshippers who are in less of a rush. Although the car’s naturally aspirated 1.4-litre 4-cylinder delivers a healthy 100bhp and a decent 131Nm, progress is hampered by the lackadaisical 6-speed robotised manual transmission.
A robotised manual still has a clutch, except that the driver doesn’t have to operate it. But the problem is, even the slowest driver can shift faster than this gearbox ever could. Just as the revs build up, they suddenly drop as the transmission takes its sweet time to engage the clutch, slot in the next gear and release the clutch again.
To hasten this, you can toggle the 500C’s Sport button, but the quicker shifts come at the expense of smoothness. It would actually be better to utilise the manual override feature. Just remember to slightly ease off the accelerator each time you shift, so as to avoid any jerkiness.
That said, both hatchbacks are pretty nimble when driven around town, with the 500C edging out the DS 3 in terms of manoeuvrability thanks to its smaller size, higher seating position and lighter steering.
But overall, the DS 3 Cabrio is the superior all-rounder. It boasts better insulation with the top up, and has a roomier and more practical cabin to boot.
The DS 3 might not make fashion-conscious motorists say “ooh la la”, but it will certainly make them giggle and say “tres chic!”
DS 3 Cabrio 1.2 (A)
ENGINE 1193cc, 12-valves, inline-3, turbocharged
MAX POWER 110bhp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 205Nm at 1500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 95.7bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 9.6 seconds
TOP SPEED 188km/h
CONSUMPTION 21.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 105g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $122,999 (after $15k CEVS rebate)
Fiat 500C 1.4 (A)
ENGINE 1368cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 100bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 131Nm at 4250rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 150.5bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automated manual
0-100KM/H 11 seconds
TOP SPEED 182km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.9km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 130g/km
PRICE INCL. COE Not applicable