Citroën's smallest car has had a facelift. Ryan Bubear drives the Citroen C1 1.0i Seduction...
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"Small on the outside, but big on the inside."
In the city car segment, this adage is as overused as that filthy hand-towel at your local petrol station's restroom. Besides, it's technically not physically possible for something's innards to take up more space than its shell allows. Yet, somehow, this hackneyed phrase starts to make sense when driving the Citroën C1.
Of course, this is nothing new. The C1 has been around — along with its production cousins, the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107 — since 2005. And a number of its other competitors (think Kia Picanto, Chevrolet Spark, and Hyundai i10) pull off their own successful versions of its almost sorcerous space-bending.
Nip and a tuck
But now, in an attempt to make its smallest model stand out from the bite-sized motoring crowd, the French manufacturer has furnished the pair of models in its C1 range with a mild facelift. And while the changes aren't at all radical, certain tweaks are worth mentioning.
The perky little 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine remains (as does its five-speed manual gearbox), but a little bit of fettling sees the quoted average fuel economy figure fall to just 4.3 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions drop to a mere 99g/km, while power and torque output stand unchanged at 50kW and 93Nm respectively. It may take an unhurried 13.5 seconds to hit 100km/h from standstill, but the lightweight C1 feels livelier than it is. The electric power steering has also been reworked, and is as light as a feather — exactly what one would expect from a tiny city car.
Cosmetic changes are limited to the C1's front end, with the distinctive rear layout largely untouched. A redesigned front bumper now houses LED DRLs on the more expensive Seduction variant, the bonnet has been shortened, and the oversized Citroën badge has been repositioned on a dark background. Inside, fresh upholstery designs have been added, and the gear-lever has been reshaped for comfort. While there's no escaping the fact that this is an entry-level car, the quality of the cabin's materials could be far worse.
Built for the city
Of course, the facelifted C1 retains its traditional city car credentials. It has tiny exterior dimensions and a tight turning circle, which make it easily manoeuvrable in traffic and a cinch to park in crowded parking lots.
The clever use of space — the compact instrument cluster is so close to the driver it's almost touching the steering wheel, and the rear doors stretch so far back there's no room for a traditional C-pillar — means the C1 interior's roominess is better than expected. Up front, headroom is appreciable, but the rear bench is mounted quite high, which will make tall passengers shoehorned onto the back seat rather grumpy.
But there is a price to pay for this relative roominess. The boot, which is accessed through an all-glass tailgate, is still pretty insignificant — holding just 139 litres, or about four full bags of grocery shopping. Thankfully though, the back seats can be dropped should more luggage space be needed.
We had the higher-spec model on test, which adds electric front windows, side airbags, ISOFix child seat anchor points, air-conditioning, high-mounted tachometer, audio system (radio/CD/MP3 — with Bluetooth and USB as an optional extra), body-colour exterior mirror-housings and door handles, and central locking to the entry-level Attraction model's short list of features. Unless you're determined to pay under R100k, we'd suggest springing for the Seduction model.
So, while the changes made to the Citroën C1 are not extensive, they do make it a somewhat more appealing option. Of course, the tweaks don't mean it will suddenly be able to catch the popular Picanto and Spark, but it does give the buyer looking for something a little different — something a bit less common on SA's roads — an attractive alternative.
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Click through to page 2 for specs and pricing.