IT WOULD be easy to be glib about Citroen’s fashion-led DS sub-brand but its popularity shouldn’t be underestimated. In supermini DS 3 guise, it’s done much to elevate Citroen’s profile and help it appeal to a more youthful buyer demographic.

And as befits a mid-life update, Citroen’s been clever not to fix what wasn’t broken with the DS 3. Save for a few cosmetic tweaks inside and out, the car is largely the same as before.

That’s a good thing as it presented a more adventurous face to the word than the likes of the equally popular Mini. Engine updates - more power, economy - complete the update programme.

Citroen loyalists have previously accused the brand of losing its way in the design department, however the arrival of the funky, extrovert DS 3 proved that the firm’s scribblers hadn’t, as first thought, lost their design mojo after all.

This light refresh sees little done in the way of major changes - or minor ones for that matter.

Look closely, however, and you might spot the DS 3’s new headlights in either LED or high-power xenon flavour.

Step inside the cabin and you might also spot a few tweaks to the overall trim quality and ambience.

The DS 3 is no limousine, but that’s probably why it’s such a popular choice among style-conscious urbanites. Its modest size makes it easy to drive and park in town, although don’t bank on making regular use of the car’s rear seats.

In cabrio guise you will have to make a further concession to space, as the car’s boot isn’t terribly big and the smaller opening is down to accommodating the retracting roof mechanism.

Citroen makes a big deal of the DS 3’s performance potential, and the test car’s 1.6-litre turbo petrol motor now boasts a healthy 165bhp - which is up 10bhp on the previous car.

This, coupled with a healthy slug of torque and an easy to use six-speed manual gearbox, injects a welcome dose of sporty, playful behaviour.

And despite the Cabrio’s slight weight penalty over the tin-top model it still feels feisty enough to make you smile on the right road. In-gear acceleration is brisk, while motorway cruising is pleasingly refined.

Citroen has also nailed the ride, with the DS 3 successfully blending a welcome resistance to roll with the ability to soak up bumps in a way only Citroen knows how - take heed Mini et al.

With Citroen now filled with sufficient confidence to spin off its successful DS brand into a standalone entity, cars like the DS 3 will increasingly be pitched as upmarket offerings.

The upshot will be Mini-like pricing and a greater focus on premium kit and trim options, so don’t expect rock-bottom asking prices. That said, solid fuel economy and reduced emissions ratings should mean modest day-to-day running costs.

Don’t want to join the herd with a tricked-out Mini? Maybe the DS 3 will be more your style. It’s no less appealing in the looks department and the DS 3’s cabin is more functional and less fussy than its Brit rival, which is likely to appeal to buyers seeking an original and grown up environment.

Pick the right DS 3, like this 1.6 165bhp variant, and you won’t be short of poke if you’re a keen driver. The DS 3’s road manners are also impressive, and it’s also good to know that5 you sacrifice little if you opt for the ragtop model.

In truth it’s no more than an oversize retractable fabric sunroof, but it works well if you don’t mind taking a hit in the boot department.

This car summed up in a single word: Fashionable If this car was a…: Gallic rival to the Mini it would be stylish, drive well and turn plenty of heads. Oh wait, it does!