Citroen C1 Airscape

Flair VTi 72

Citroen C1 Airscape, front
Citroen C1 Airscape, front, action
Citroen C1 Airscape, front
Citroen C1, interior through roof
Citroen C1, striped seats
Citroen C1 Airscape, side, action

SMALL cars have traditionally been a bit of an afterthought for most auto manufacturers.

Profit margins are often minimal and they tend to sit at the less sexy end of the model spectrum.

But small cars have been on the rise for some time now and the success of some (albeit larger) trend-setters have sparked something of a small car revolution.

Vehicles like the MINI and Fiat 500 has shown that small cars can be extremely popular and big sellers, particularly when they offer scope for personalisation.

And, from a practical point of view they also offer an affordable and easy way of getting around in our increasingly congested cities.

So to the Citroen C1, a city car which is definitely in the small and dinky category but with just enough quirkiness to help set it apart.

I don't often drive cars in this bracket in all honesty and the first thing I noticed about it - at the risk of stating the obvious - was just how small it was.

I was amazed to see it had the space to fit four doors for starters.

So much so that I had to see just how much space it had in the rear.

It wasn't a lot, though to be fair my driver's seat was pushed quite far back to comfortably accommodate my six-foot plus frame.

Later I did manage to transport four adults in a surprising degree of comfort and didn't need to squash my face up against the windscreen in order to do so.

An Airscape version of the C1 comes with an accessory which gives it instant added character in the shape of a ‘peel-back' fabric roof.

My time behind the wheel coincided with a burst of unseasonably warm spring weather so I spent most of the time with it open as a form of natural air-conditioning.

It is operated by a switch on the roof and extends the full length of the cabin to create something of the feel and character of a convertible.

It was without doubt this C1's defining feature and it certainly endeared me to it.

In line with small car fashions the C1 has a funky if minimalist feel as far as the interior is concerned.

The dashboard is dominated by a seven-inch multi-function screen which houses navigation, digital sound and connectivity features.

Along with that sliding roof it's a feature which adds to the price of the C1, though the range starts at £9,640.

The three-cylinder 998cc engine is not going to provide thrills but given its diminutive capacity is reasonably capable.

It needs to be worked hard to get the most out of it and a 0-62mph time that's on a par with a fairly modest Ford Escort means you need to plan any overtaking and scaling steep inclines in the road ahead.

You are also aware of its limitations when transporting four people.

That apart though the C1 is fun and engaging to drive and its general compactness is a large part of that.

For a small car it also delivers a surprisingly comfortable ride.

In terms of load-lugging capacity it is limited and its boot is only really designed for small-ish bits and bobs, or at best the contents of a weekly shopping trip.

However you can fold the rear seats down to boost carrying capacity should the occasion demand it.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C1 Airscape Flair VTi 72

Price:£13,610

Mechanical: 72bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 14.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.9

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 93g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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