CITROEN'S C1 has put smiles on the faces of a lot of young drivers.
Cheap and cheerful, it found homes among many buyers making their first purchase of a new car... and Citroen wants to keep them happy.
Hence the new C1 is that bit more cheerful, more sophisticated and rather stylish.
The new Airscape model means you can even let the sunshine in through an electric folding fabric roof , similar to that found on the more expensive Fiat 500.
For a small car, there's a lot to discover and enjoy, such as a seven-inch Touch Drive interface and Mirror Screen technology that allows the driver to run selected smartphone apps from the screen.
The seats have been made more supportive and comfortable too, while there's a bolder front end characterised by eye-catching headlights with daytime running lights.
With a choice of three or five doors, space for four adults (although it's cramped in the back) and excellent turning circle figures, the new C1 has a lot going for it.
Even keyless entry and start and a reversing camera are available as options, while hill start assist is standard specification.
Priced from £8,245, there are three trim levels Touch, Feel and Flair - while Airscape models are available in Feel and Flair trim. To Citroen's credit, LED daytime running lights and remote central locking come with this trim, but you will have to move up to the Feel trim for some desirable features such as air conditioning, height-adjustable driver's seat and DAB radio.
The body colour combinations are striking. The new C1 is available in eight exterior colours – Smalt Blue, Caldera Black, Gallium Grey , Carlinite Grey , Tapenade Grey, Lipizzan White, Scarlet Red and the sugnature Sunrise Red, which can be personalised with a choice of chrome door mirrors and door handles on the Flair trim level.
Both 14 and 15-inch wheels and covers are available, while optional 15-inch diamond-tipped alloys certainly add to the attractive exterior.
Inside the bright and airy cabin, bright colours abound, and the large touch screend makes for a very modern feel.
The Airscape body style (available with both three and five-door models) brings more fun to the party. The canvas soft-top runs almost the entire length of the roof and can be opened or closed by a switch in the ceiling panel when the car is at a standstill or motorway speed limits. An aero-acoustic deflector deploys when the roof is opened to maintain acoustic comfort by limiting in-cabin turbulence. With the roof closed, acoustic comfort is the same as the hatchback version.
To contrast with the body colour, the roof is available in a choice of three colours – Sunrise Red, Black or Grey.
There are storage compartments throughout the cabin, cup-holders and a glovebox with a lid.
Load capacity for the the small boot is small, but it can be extended to 780 litres with the rear seats folded. Unfortunately, the seats do now fold completely flat, thereby limiting the type of luggage that can be carried.
The C1 is Citroen’s first model to feature Mirror Screen technology, which allows the driver to copy their smartphone content on to the Touch Drive interface for easy display and control. You will need to check, though, whether your smartphone is compatible. The iPhone 5, for instance, is not suitable at this moment, but the iPhone4 will lnk up.
Once installed, the motorist can take full advantage of a range of smartphone apps – navigation, telephone, address book, music, web radio and any other useful driving-compatible functions.
There are two petrol engine to choose from- a fizzy and fun three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol and a more relaxed yet more fun 1.2-litre unit.
The VTi 68 engine with stop & start technology mated to a five-speed manual gearbox provides for excellent fuel economy of up to 74.3mpg on a combined cycle, while CO2 emissions are a mere 88g/km. It can also be specified with an automated manual five-speed gearbox.
A new choice of power from the PureTech engine family is also offered. This 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, 82hp petrol engine achieves fuel economy of 65.7mpg (combined cycle) and 99g/km CO2.
Having tested both engines, I came to the conclusion that the lower powered unit is perfectly adequate, and quite spirited, but a more rewarding performance could be found in the PureTech 82hp version, with its extra torque and reserves of power. Matched with the folding roof and in Feel trim with five doors, this would be my choice.
I suspect that for some young buyers considerations regarding insurance group and economy will play as much a part in the decision-making as the quality of the drive, but the 82hp engine is, not surprisingly, the pick of the two.
Prices range from £8,245 to £11,935, and a special launch edition is available for £10,945. The C1 Airscape Feel Edition is based on a C1 Airscape Feel VTi 68 5-door, but with several attractive cosmetic features and 15-inch 'Planet' alloy wheels.
At a glance
Citroen C1 Airscape Feel 5-door
Engine: PureTech 82hp
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.0 seconds; top speed 106mph
Economy: 65.7mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 99g/km.