Citroen C1 Airscape

Quirky French city car gets a funky convertible roof

7.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 6 reviews
  • Cheap open-top motoring
  • Economical engines
  • Personalisation
  • Challenging styling
  • Somewhat noisy
  • Average to drive
 

£12,055 - £12,995 Price range

 

4 Seats

 

65 - 67 MPG

Review

The C1 is pretty much the same car as the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, with each individual manufacturer offering its own take on matters. In the case of the Citroen and the Peugeot, this means adding a full length, folding fabric roof in true European city car style.

While it certainly adds something to the case for the car and it’s a far improved vehicle compared to its ancestral namesake, there’s some big named rivals in the class now who are offering much more highly-rated competition. So is the wind in your hair worth it?

Cheapest to buy: 1.0-litre Touch petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.0-litre Flair petrol

Fastest model: 1.2-litre Flair petrol

Most popular: 1.2-litre Feel petrol

The C1 Airscape is in almost all physical departments identical to the C1 – and the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo – so everything that applies to the hardtop car applies to the open top one.

The interior is not superb quality, but it is at least bright and with a certain joie de vivre. The central floating pod containing the standard touchscreen display can be selected with luridly coloured trim. Though the range of options is a little more limited than the Peugeot, there’s still some interesting choices to be had. Note too that the Airscape soft roof isn’t available in lowest ‘Touch’ trim.

It’s not especially roomy though, and the folding roof of the Airscape makes things a little tighter for the taller amongst us. The boot is larger than its siblings’ at 196 litres, but bear in mind that you only get this storage space when you don’t opt for a spare wheel. It’s not up with the class leaders though.

Again, the Airscape is identical underneath to the regular C1 – and in fact the basic chassis has its origins in the previous C1/107/Aygo platform too. That means that, by and large, there is no difference in the driving experience.

This means it’s a perfectly fine city car and indeed the Airscape adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the experience. It’s made for narrow urban streets, with sharp steering and a tight turning circle make it easy to park anywhere. At low speeds it’ll take quite significant bumps without too much of a complaint.

It’s not necessarily a car you’ll want to take too far from the city environment though. It’s quieter than before – so long as you keep the roof closed, that is – but the higher speed ride is a little too wearing and the light steering that’s a boon in town is lacking in feedback on the open road.

There’s a brace of three cylinder engines in varying flavours here, and your choice may depend on your trim and bodystyle selection. Both engines are economical but verge on the noisy side.

The 68hp 1.0 VTi is available either in regular flavour (in manual or auto) or as a manual-only frugal “e-VTi” with an 8% improvement in fuel economy – 74.3mpg to 68.9mpg. The higher powered engine is an 82hp 1.2 which, despite the power increase, still rates at less than 100g/km, and sits in the zero-rate Band A VED (road tax) bracket.

If you plan to drive frequent longer journeys, the more powerful 1.2 is the better option. It’s the engine also found in the Peugeot 208 and it’ll drag the C1 to 62mph in a more than respectable 11 seconds – more than three seconds faster than the 1.0.

Such is the similarity between these co-developed cars that Euro NCAP crashed a Toyota Aygo and carried the scores over to the two French cars.

It doesn’t make for wholly convincing reading though, as the trio nets a four-star rating. 80% in both of the child and adult occupant categories is only on the cusp of a five-star score, with the latter marked down due to the steering column moving in the front impact test.

It’s well appointed for safety kit though, with six airbags, electronic stability control and a speed assistance system, but bear in mind that rivals can boast a five-star rating in this category.

The Airscape suffers the same pricing issues as the 108 TOP!. The extra cost of the roof and the fact it’s not available at lower trim levels mean that the Airscape starts at £10,345, running up to almost £12k at the top end. It’s a lot of money for wind-in-your-hair freedom.

The equipment levels are pretty appealing and it’s just as economical as the regular C1, but the insurance grouping is much higher – fabric roofs are easier to penetrate and more expensive to repair – so it’s a little more expensive to run.

Conclusion

The folding fabric roof is a (nearly) unique selling point and the C1 is a better car than its predecessor by a good margin. That’s the good news.

However, since the launch of the original trio, newer alternatives have arisen that are better all-rounders. The C1 Airscape is the car you have to dodge the rational options to purchase, especially with the ‘individual’ looks – but who buys the most rational car anyway?

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