As most of you know, the original Citroën C1 city car formed part of global campaign and joint-venture between Citroën, Peugeot and Toyota. The recipe was simple: By joining forces, three large manufacturers could develop and produce a small car and bring it to the masses with a small price tag to meet its diminutive dimensions.
It worked, Citroen introduced the C1, Peugeot the 107 and Toyota, the Aygo. Each had just enough exterior flavour, derived from each respective manufacturers design philosophy, but underneath the three siblings, were in fact identical triplets – same platform, layout, engine and drivetrain.
So the new Citroen C1 follows a similar ‘Avengers ensemble’ theme?
Yes, the ‘strength through numbers’ game seems to have paid off for the alliance and in 2014/2015 new versions of each will debut in the form of the new C1, 108 and Aygo.
First for South Africa is Citroen’s C1 which I’ve had the better part of a month to drive. No doubt Toyota will bring us the new Aygo, similarly the same with Peugeot. Although I can’t tell you when – all three have been available overseas since early last year – such is South Africa’s customary new model introduction delay.
It looks sweet!
Indeed the new C1 is well, all-new. And while the previous original lent itself to a budget beating courtesy car vibes, the new model has grown up significantly, in every department.
In traditional French the flair, the new design exudes cute with its cheeky new front end – now featuring a two-tier headlamp arrangement and requisite daytime Christmas tree running lights stacked upright in the lower bumper section. The large chromed Citroen chevrons takes centre stage on the little grille section with a blacked-out lower intake revealing a quirky smile. A little doe-eyed, but no doubt a design winner.
Unbelievably for such a small car, the C1 one has four doors and with those funky 15-inch wheels pushed firmly to each corner, interior space is not as puny as you might imagine. It is a squeeze though, and while rear passengers do at least get their own entry and exit point, those rear windows are only tilt opening rather than full up and down ones. With its sloping roof, rear headroom is very cramped, even for averaged sized adults.
A pert rear end with large all-in-one light clusters flank the one-piece glass tailgate.
I was fortunate to drive the top-spec Feel Airscape model which includes a retractable fabric roof in ‘Sunrise Red’ colour which matches the side mirrors and pieces of the interior trim. Cute indeed.
So definitely aimed at the young and the young at heart?
Most definitely, with the retractable roof and matching colour option the C1 is as funky a design as you can find in the market and out and about on the roads it elicited many a second glance by fellow motorists.
I’m not a fan of convertibles, I just end up feeling like a bit of a ponce, but with the C1s folding canvas roof, you have the bonus of being able to have wind in the hair motoring without the ‘look at me in my fancy convertible’ image.
I used it often, on the to-work-and-back commute and for us in South Africa where we have mostly warm weather for most of the year, I give it a thumbs up. Admittedly on a freeway run, it does get quite blustery in the cabin, but that’s to be expected and if it’s an issue for you, you’re probably too old.
So for the young only then?
Not exclusively, I managed to squeeze the whole family into the C1 for more than one grocery store run, and while rear space is pretty tight for bulky child car-seats, it can be done. The boot is very small, but it’s deeper than you think (able to consume a baby stroller with ease), however this is enabled by the fact that you don’t get a spare wheel, as an owner though, this would concern me.
Okay, what’s under that little hood? A little engine I bet.
You’d be right, powering the little C1 is a 1.2-litre triple making 61kW and 116Nm. Sounds underwhelming but I’d go so far as to say, the engine in the new C1 is the best part. It suits the C1s image down to the ground and is happy to be thrashed – in small French car tradition.
Of course it’s at home around town and at low speeds but at freeway speeds I was amazed at its ability to keep up with far bigger metal in fast lane, and its keenness to pull in fifth gear. It will happily sit at 120-130km/hour and even up hills it performs admirably, no doubt the 950kg kerb weight helping immensely.
It’s frugal too, on a return trip to Joburg I managed to get the indicated average fuel consumption down to below 5 litres per 100km. Hybrids eat your
hearts batteries out!
Okay, let’s wrap this up.
The new Citroen C1 definitely has grown up, and for some that might be a bad thing. In top-spec Airscape Feel trim, you do get a lot of standard kit you’d expect to see on more expensive machinery like the fancy touchscreen infotainment centre, smartphone mirroring technology (which I couldn’t get to work), a rear-view parking camera, hill-start assist, climate control and of course that folding roof. But, it does come at a price – R194 900, which is a lot of money for a small car, and a small Citroen at that.
Even R168 900 for the ‘cheaper’ Feel model, you’ll be paying considerably more than the outgoing model (which is still available from Citroen) and starts at a shade under R118k. Citroen say they’re bringing a cheaper 1.0-litre standard model to the range which will hopefully cater to the entry level market.
Sure the new C1 is bigger, has a fantastic engine, is frugal and more fun to drive and highly specced, but to many the original C1s attraction was its price point and in that regard, as good as the new Citroen C1 is, it’s asking a lot in a very competitive, brand loyal, small car market.