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Citroen C1 - budget buster no more

12.01.2015

THERE'S a new Citroen C1 in town, quite different from its predecessor. The previous C1 was an honest budget option; the new one is a more boutique, designer city car, very much like the Fiat 500.

→ Design

The looks are very important in a city car so the extrovert look that Citroën has gone for with the C1 looks great. The front-end took a bit of time to adjust to but after a while the little silhouette became quite cute.

→ Engine and efficiency

I had the opportunity to drive one recently and what a surprise the little city slicker turned out to be. First of all, I was impressed with the engine; the pokey little 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine has 61kW and 116Nm on tap.

I thought it would underwhelm me but in fact it provided great low-end torque; there wasn’t much in the higher rpm but the way it’s been geared and mapped makes the C1 ideal for the urban sprawl.

The little motor is exempt from CO2 tax as well, with ratings of 99g/km of CO2. While I was unable to replicate the claimed fuel consumption figures of 4.3 litres/100km, I did manage around 5.5 in a week where traffic appeared to be relentless.

 → Customise

The C1 is certainly a car for someone who likes customisation at a dealer level; my test unit was finished off in sunrise red, which went on through into the interior, finished off in red zebra, which meant the car really stood out everywhere I went and the interior was a vibrant place to be.

→ Breath of fresh air

The model I had on test was the Airscape, which has a canvas roof that opens at the touch of a button. The nice thing about it is there are still the vehicle’s pillars in place while you maintain that open-top driving experience.

→ Refinement surprise

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year in budget vehicles. I love how honest they are but to be truthful, the noise and rough ride some exhibit can become tiresome. That’s where the C1 impressed me most; it’s both quiet and refined on the open road with a well-matched fifth gear for open-road cruising.

→ Practicality

This isn’t a family car; it’s aimed at a single, 20-something, who wants to cruise around in something light on fuel and that looks good in the city. The 196-litre boot is better than its predecessor’s (139 litres) as well as the 780 litres of space with the seats down.

→ The elephant in the room

There’s something about the C1 that worries me… its price tag of R194 900 for this convertible version and that doesn’t include a service plan. However, when compared with the Fiat 500C 1.2 Pop (R206 990) it is cheaper than the Fiat and adds features like climate control and a reversing camera. The 500C fights back with a three-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan that matches the C1’s three-year/100 000km warranty.

One saving grace for the C1 is that it only requires servicing every 20 000km, meaning the owner has to fork out less often, while the 500C owners out-of-maintenance plans only have to service their vehicles every 30 000km.

→ Verdict

I really enjoyed my time with the little C1. It has a very serious rival in the Fiat 500C but at the same time, the C1 is fresh, whereas the Fiat is getting on a bit. The C1 certainly has the peppier engine of the two and is, I feel, more fun to drive in the city.

Article written by Sean Nurse
12.01.2015
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