By Wayne Gorrett
Citroën’s core C1 already has cheeky ‘wassup’ looks and the Connexion adds funky and exclusivity to the mix. Continuing that great 3-pot engine, add low running costs, solid build quality and some more bells and whistles on the spec list and what’s not to like?
WE DIDN’T LIKE
Nothing much. The original idea has been around since 2005 and now finds itself up against some younger bucks. It’s beginning to show it’s age in a few critical areas. This new, largely cosmetic C1 Connexion edition is hoped to revive interest among a new, younger target demographic.
☀ ☀ ☀
As little cars go, Citroën’s C1 is a neat, well-built city runabout that cuddles urban like London foxes, but isn’t the least embarrassed when found chasing countryside horizons.
If you didn’t already know, it was developed in the early ‘naughties’ by the B-Zero project of PSA Peugeot Citroën in a joint-venture with Toyota, resulting in the Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo automotive samoosa. It remains well fit for purpose but it is showing its age in several areas. Until now.
If the standard C1 is a bit of a cracker, then the C1 Connexion is a firework. Designed in partnership with Facebook, using a special application on Citroën’s UK Facebook page, 24,000 people submitted their ideal configuration for a C1 – and the result is the C1 Connexion, the world’s first car developed solely by social media.
Available in both two- and four-door variants as tested here, the new Citroën C1 Connexion features black metallic paint, with funky red highlights, as well as eye-catching 14in Rift alloys and a long standard equipment list that includes air conditioning, daytime running LEDs, remote central locking and power steering.
To the original Citroën C1 VTR specification, the C1 Connexion adds dark tinted rear windows and an ‘exterior look pack’ which, to accent Connexion’s standard black metallic paint, includes cheerful red highlights to the door mirrors, door handles and rear number plate surround. Inside this model has a Connexion ‘interior look pack’, which adds red highlights to the instrument panel and controls as well as red piping around the carpets and ‘Connexion’ moniker.
The little engine that could…and does, remarkably well. Mated to a manual five-speed gearbox, the light three-cylinder, 998cc petrol engine ‘propels’ the C1 from 0-60mph in a reasonable 12.3 seconds with an official top speed of 98mph. In reality, it runs out of puff at around 75mph, at which point engine, road and wind noise becomes taxing. However, it is light, nippy and is quite fun to drive with a bit of gusto should your mood so dictate.
Ride & Handling
Due to its small dimensions, the C1 is nippy to drive with a firm ride and sharp handling. Body roll is negligible but understeer will arrive sooner rather than later if pushed too hard. Rough road surfaces make themselves known throughout the cabin but not too intrusively.
Space & Practicality
Citroën’s Connexion brochure describes the interior as having space for ‘up to’ four people. True. There is no room for five. There are pockets of reasonable storage dotted around the cabin for water, Rebecca J’s (now black) bananas, maps and other daily clutter. Not a lot else. But then, the C1 is what it is…a compact, highly efficient city car that can carry four people in some degree of comfort. Luggage space at just 139 litres is restrictive but with the rear seats folded (750 litres) there is room for two or three garden waste bags for a run to your local skip.
14in Rift alloys, air conditioning, daytime running LEDs, remote central locking and power steering, tinted rear windows, red exterior and interior ‘look’ packs, front electric windows, RDS stereo radio/CD player,, aux socket for MP3 player, height-adjustable steering wheel, rear 50/50 split/folding seats.
Comfort & Refinement
Because of its short wheelbase and ‘firm’ factory setup, the C1 can get quite crunchy. The small three-cylinder engine can be a tad thrashy when pushed but it will handle an enthusiastic driving style. Motorways will be fine but not for too long and the best driving fun will be had on ‘B’ and lesser rural roads.
Safety & Security
A 4 star Euro NCAP rating, ABS with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), cornering stability control (CSC), driver’s and front passenger’s airbag and front lateral airbags.
All three cars in the C1/107/Aygo triage are built by Toyota and while there is little doubt a budget ceiling was applied to the project, it is very well put together and nothing feels cheap and tacky or overly breakable.
The Connexion benefits from improvements made to the C1’s three-cylinder, 998cc 68hp petrol engine, which was recently re-tuned to reduce CO2 emissions to just 98g/km for C1 manual transmission models, which encompasses the Connexion variant tested here. It is also exempt from the London Congestion Charge and holds £0 vehicle excise duty. Citroën paperwork suggest a claimed fuel consumption of 65.7mpg (combined). We achieved an still-impressive 59.6 on mixed roads with no conscious effort to be frugal.
Two obvious ones – Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo, but also consider Chevrolet Spark, Kia Picanto.
As a marketing man, I avoid using the word ‘cheap’ and I won’t start now.
For inexpensive, urban-based driving, little can beat the inexpensive Citroën C1, simply because it is easy and fun to drive, has excellent all-round visibility and the cost-of-ownership is, er…inexpensive.