Motoring: Style, sass and sun – the Citroën C1


gay_motoring_car_review_Citroen_C1_sideWhat ingredients make up the ultimate city run-around? Funky looks, good fuel efficiency, ease of manoeuvrability, some convenience features, a bit of space for the shopping and maybe the ability to soak up the sun?

The Citroën C1 Airscape Feel has all these attributes, but, priced at a shade under R200 000, many buyers would ask if it’s worth it.

Youthful and funky styling endue the C1 with a light-hearted aura unlike much else on the roads today – certainly not much else in its class, anyway. The high grille, the two large, circular headlights and their “eyebrow” indicator lenses give it a cheeky appearance. Lower in the front valance a pair of vertical LED daytime-running lights add extra spark. The blacked-out A-pillars help make the frontal aspect of the car seem a bit bigger, too.

The youthful detailing on the Airscape extends to the fabric roof, which can be either black or Sunrise Red, and the B-pillar detailing that matches the interior’s light “Red Zebra” upholstery accents.

That interior continues with the light-hearted theme with a “Darth Vader-esque” centre console in a bright, glossy red. This houses the seven-inch Touch Drive Interface entertainment system and electronic climate control.

gay_motoring_car_review_Citroen_C1_interiorOn that point, the C1 Airscape is really quite well equipped; with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted controls, a reversing camera, front electric windows, that electric folding roof, tyre pressure monitoring, automatic headlamps and a trip computer.

It’s safe, too … this little mite packs six airbags, rear ISOFIX child seat mountings, a speed limiter, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and ABS brakes incorporating Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist.

Those are all important city-run-around must-haves, but how does the C1 actually run around the city?

As with many such city-cars, the C1 is powered by a sprightly little three-cylinder motor. While at idle it’s one of the more gruff three-cylinder powerplants around, it smoothes out when on the run. Of 1,2-litre capacity, it produces a more-than-adequate 60 kW of power and 116 Nm torque at a low 2 750 r/min – perfect for nipping around. And it really is nippy … surprisingly so, in fact.

Combined with the direct steering and sharp brakes, you can zip through traffic and into parking bays at your favourite hangout as cheekily as the C1 looks. A slight gripe, is that the clutch for the five-speed gearbox is undesirably heavy. You soon get used to it, though.

What if you want to take some friends along to that hangout? Well, while the C1 does have rear doors, there really is only enough space for four – at a squeeze. (Seriously, five of us tried to cram in for a night on the town and we landed up using a different car…) The front passengers enjoy decent amounts of room and the two-piece bucket seats are comfy. The C1 is set up to ride comfortably, too. A bit of road noise does permeate the rear, though.

gay_motoring_car_review_Citroen_C1_topNaturally, as tight as the rear passenger space is, so is the boot space. It measures just 196 l, but can extend to a decent 780 l with the rear seats folded. Inside, the C1 has a good amount of stowage space and the cubby even has a large bottle holder.

The price for all this city-slicking ability is R194 900. That figure does include a three-year/100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty and three-year road side assistance, though no service plan. However, helping to keep running costs low is the claimed fuel consumption of just 4,3 l/100 km on the combined cycle.

So, the C1 Airscape Feel ticks all the right boxes to be a great city run-around. Indeed it is; thoroughly enjoyable to skip around in with bags of personality. But its pricing places it in dangerous territory. It would probably need to be about R30 000 cheaper to be really appealing. Happily, that’s the point at which the hard-top version is priced…

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