It’s not often that this happens. I’m getting a little bit of déjà vu here, because the Citroën C1 Airscape you see here is remarkably similar to the Peugeot 108 Top! featured a couple of weeks ago. That’s no secret though, because the two Frenchies and the Toyota Aygo share the same DNA; as they have always done. Sadly though it won’t be a trio of reviews, as Toyota didn’t want to give me a car to test; I’ll keep working on that one. So now to get on with this strange review; there are a lot of similarities between the Peugeot and Citroën, but also a lot of differences. And it was my job to find them…
Looks – 9/10
After the recent redesign of all three models, there’s a lot more to distinguish them visually. The Citroën and Peugeot do share similar rear lines, although the lights look plainer on the C1. The Flair model I tested had rather nice two-tone alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles and privacy glass. The biggest difference on the Citroën came in the form of a red roof and door mirrors (£100). Against the Caldera Black paintwork this worked really well. Now I must come to the front end, and this is where I take slight issue with the C1. I’m still not sold on the big round headlights with the thin strip above them. I certainly think the Peugeot 108 looks classier from the front.
Inside there are a lot of similar features. The dials are identical, as are the steering wheel, gear knob and touch screen media system. That being said I much prefer the colour combination inside the Citroën; gloss black and matte grey work well together. I also prefer the heater controls in the C1, the buttons just look a lot more premium than the twizzy dial of the 108. The pattern on the seats in the C1 left me feeling a bit uninspired though; I would have liked more colour contrast or bolder pattern. All things said and done though the new models have much improved interiors over the outgoing models, and that’s a welcome change.
Handling/Performance – 8/10
The engine in the C1 Airscape is the same 1.2-litre engine as found in the Peugeot. It has 82PS and 116Nm which is sent to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox. It will go from 0-62mph in 11 seconds and on to a top speed of 106mph. Although it’s only 14PS more than the 1.0-litre engines it really makes a difference to the way the C1 drives. Motorway driving in particular takes less effort, and there is more overtaking oomph. You still notice the larger hills, but a change down into 4th gear soon sorts this out. I’m not entirely sure why, but the engine in the Citroën didn’t feel as smooth and refined as that in the Peugeot. There was more vibration and less refinement, which was more noticeable on the motorway.
The handling is very much the same as the Peugeot. Both are sat on 165/60/R15 tyres, which allow a little bit of lean into the corners. You soon get used to this though, and the steering itself feels rather responsive. There’s decent turn in, and with there being such a short front end you can really tuck in tight to the apex. The advantage to the high-sided tyres comes in the form of comfort, as when coupled to the well-balanced suspension the ride really is good. The new Citroën C1 is generally less tiring to drive than the old one. And that’s good, because it makes it a better all-rounder. Not only is it good round town, but does well on a motorway too.
Economy – 10/10
Even the 1.2-litre petrol engine is rather efficient one. CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean that you will never need to pay road tax, and combined fuel consumption of 65.7mpg mean you’ll visit the petrol pumps less frequently too. The C1 doesn’t need any fancy start/stop system either; it’s just a well-designed, reliable engine. The fact that the Citroën has a kerb weight of 865kg will help the economy figures. As far as low running costs go these cars are some of the best, and I therefore expect these new models to be just as popular as the ones they’re replacing.
Practicality – 9/10
Being a 5-door model, the C1 Airscape benefits from better levels of practicality. Although it only seats four, there is space for four adults, albeit keeping the taller folk in the front. The boot is big enough for the majority of uses; you’d certainly not struggle to get your weekly shop in it. Having a removable roof means that on the rare occasion the sun comes out, you can make the most of it. With the new multimedia system you can connect your iPod and telephone to stay connected to the world. There’s a reversing camera to help the already easy feat of parking, and there is even a glove box in the cabin. A small addition, but one that is much better than having a tray with all your belongings on show.
Fun – 9/10
So just as I found after a week with the Peugeot 108 Top!, the Citroën C1 Airscape is a cracking little car. I liked the black/red combo, which really worked well from a styling point of view. I liked the touch screen media system which was very user friendly and made connecting a phone effortless. I actually got a dry day whilst testing the C1 with a hint of sunshine- although being February it was bloomin’ cold!- so I got the roof down and cranked up the heater. It’s a great feature to have, and doesn’t have any downsides. You don’t suffer from wind noise with the fabric roof, and yet you can have the wind in your hair on a nice day. The tyre lean in the corners also makes for a bit of a giggle if you attach a country road with menace, so you really can do it all in the C1 Airscape.
So that’s my week with the Citroën. I am still a little unsure on the front-end styling, but it bothered me more at some times than others so perhaps it’s me that lacks style, not the car. This car has a lot of tech and features crammed into a small body, and will put a good case forward for being a complete package. What’s more, it won’t cost you the earth to run, and you can impress your friends when the sun comes out. Price for the ‘Flair’ model I tested- which is what I’d opt for- starts at £12,035. Metallic paint costs £495, the red roof/mirrors £100 and the auto pack (which is headlights and air conditioning) is another £300; although I didn’t really see much value in the latter option. So for more information visit your local dealer or the Citroën website. The Citroën C1 Airscape; proof that good things come in small packages.
Total Score – 45/50