Thursday, November 8, 2012
Fire up the... Citroen C1
There is, however, a trio of equally engaging city slickers which have been missing out on most of the limelight thanks to the new arrivals. The Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1 - which are all effectively versions of each other - might have been around for ages, but thanks to some automotive nip ‘n' tuck and generous pricing they've still got plenty to offer.
The one I tried, Citroen's tiny C1, is still looking fresh thanks to a particularly effective facelift which gives it a cheekier front end than its immediate predecessor. It's a vibe that extends to the interior, with lots of body-coloured metal lining the doors and a single, enormous speedometer with a rev counter popping out of it, MINI style. True, it feels a little cheaper and flimsier than its much newer rivals but it's nicely laid out and more than well equipped for something which makes a virtue out of being small and simple.
Which brings to me to the chief joy of the Citroen's smallest offering - thanks to the engineers' obsession with saving weight, the C1 is lighter than a helium-filled malteser and about as entertaining as a result. Because there's so little weight, the 68bhp its engine serves up feels far more energetic than you'd think, and it darts down the narrowest country lanes and town centre streets with a natural agility. While it'll do motorway work more than easily enough, this car really shines when things get narrow and congested.
The Up and its siblings still feel more solid than the C1, and there's no doubt the Panda's roomier, but haggle a good deal on a C1 and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank with a small car that still makes you smile.