C1 and the C4 Cactus signal renewal of Citroen with plenty of Gallic chic
Style and originality remain at the heart of Citroen's cars, says Geraldine Herbert, who is charmed by the C1 and C4
Four years ago, Citroen revived the DS nameplate and turned a back catalogue of quirky designs and a 50s icon into a 21st-Century brand. Not only was it a successful commercial venture but it signalled the revival of the marque.
Citroen has reclaimed its soul and the French car maker is turning heads once more. And it is not just car drivers who are attracted to its styling - even bike riders in the Dublin mountains, as my colleague Campbell Spray discovered last week - gush about the DS line.
With concept car styling ,the Cactus is a fun and zany alternative to the traditional compact hatchback with innovative and functional airbumps, split headlights and a funky interior. The distinctive side panels are made of air-filled thermoplastic polyurethane and are essentially bubble wrap for cars, which should stop people with questionable supermarket trolley control causing bumps, dings and dents to doors.
Slip behind the wheel and it is comfortable, with beautifully cosseting seats. Look closely at the dash and the lack of a rev counter suggests this is not a car for setting scorching lap times at the Nurburgring but rather a comfortable cruiser that is all about practical family motoring.
At the launch, we had an opportunity to test drive Citroen's new 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. On the road, it is light and easy to manoeuvre. While it is certainly set up in favour of comfort over driving dynamics it is relaxing and pleasant to drive.
Citroen Ireland has yet to reveal prices but it will be positioned just below the C4 which starts at €21,145; official prices will be confirmed closer to the launch date in September. Also joining the new Cactus is Citroen's new city car, the C1. With smart styling and useful technologies, the C1 is Citroen's answer to modern city living. As with the outgoing model, the new car shares its body shell and numerous other parts with the new Toyota Aygo and the Peugeot 108.
Cheeky, French and full of charm with slim, swept-back lights, a new grille plus LED daylights and larger circular headlights, the C1 is an immediate eye-catcher.
Inside, it is bright and airy and there are a host of personalisation options throughout. As expected of a city car, the boot is small at 196 litres of space, but fold down the rear seats and space increases to a very decent 780 litres. We had an opportunity to test drive the 1.0 litre petrol engine that promises to return a frugal 3.8 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions of just 88g/km.
Ideally suited to the urban environment, negotiating the cobbled and often very narrow streets of Amsterdam proved a doddle. Venture out of the city and the engine has plenty of pep for motorway driving.
The new C1 will be on sale from August 10 and will be offered in three trim levels - Touch, Feel, and Flair - and will be available in both three and five-door, as a hatchback, or as a new open-top sardine-style roof, named Airscape. Prices start at €10,995 for the C1 Touch VTi 68 manual 3-door, rising to €15,195 for the top-of-the-range C1 Airscape Flair VTi 68 ETG 5-door.
The C1 and the C4 Cactus are perfect examples of chic French car design and proof that style and originality are still the lifeblood of Citroen.