Owning a convertible car is a dream of many owners, but can you escape the dream and drive the reality without spending a small fortune?
Citroen has the perfect answer with the Airscape versions of its smallest model, the C1. This little car really opens up to the world and as well as prices starting at £12,060 and Citroen always offering superb deals it even has the promise of low insurance premiums if you need even more to tempt you.
The Airscape is a clever solution to an old problem – what to do with the folded roof once it’s open. Traditionally it has sat on the rear panel with small soft top cars, where it can obscure the rear view. But Citroen’s answer is to convert it to a full-length fabric roof that stays above the tailgate when open, leaving the rear view unimpeded.
In effect, the Airscape brings a full-length sunroof but this has several advantages. Not least among these is the fact that the original roof frame remains intact, enhancing the stiffness of the car. There’s no difference when it comes to structural integrity between a fully closed C1 and the one with the peel-back roof.
That may seem unimportant but anyone who has driven an open car with a shaking scuttle will know how alarming this feels. It would also impact on the car’s handling, making it less enjoyable to drive just when you want to enjoy it most.
If you need more advantages to persuade you, the roof on the Airscape is easy to close when it starts to rain, as it inevitably will, because it can be achieved on the move. Similarly, should the sun pop out it can be opened without any more fuss that pushing a switch above the rear view mirror.
It all presents as a very neat solution, leaving the base car as roomy as it always has been, a tailgate that is still fully functional rather than undergoing a transformation into a boot lid, and an interior unimpeded by the need to find space at the side for a hood mechanism.
The C1 is available with a choice of 1.0 litre three cylinder or 1.2 litre four cylinder petrol engines. The 1.2 is a great unit but this time out we had the 1.0 and, as is typical with three cylinder engines, that in the C1 has a lion-hearted feel, although the roar is pleasantly subdued. Three cylinder engines offer economy and response all in one go so this car can manage 0-62 mph in 13 seconds and a top speed of 98 mph yet delivers 50+ mpg economy around town without any effort and vastly more on a longer run.
Although ranked among city cars, the C1 is more than capable of undertaking long journeys with ease. It helps in traffic that although still a small package the C1 has substantial looks. Nobody is going to mess with it.
It doesn’t get in the way, either, as it can more than stand the pace of traffic while, in urban use, the 95 g/km of CO2 output is probably more truly friendly to the environment in most scenarios than purely electric vehicles because the C1 is so much more flexible in the way it delivers travel solutions. Its range is only limited by the availability of petrol stations, of which there are thousands, rather than plug-in points, of which there are still too few.
Low running costs are a strong feature all across the C1 range, satisfying the demands of the current market with great fuel returns although, stupidly, the Government has done away with the former zero road tax rating. But the deep boot, split folding rear seats to increase load space t a very useful 780 litres, pleasant interior with good space for four, and excellent driving position make the C1 feel far larger than its physical dimensions suggest.
It’s definitely a car that’s easy to live with, fulfilling the roles of single person commuter workhorse or family transport for the two adult / two child household. And with the slide-back fabric roof, it also allows dreamers to imagine they are in the sports car they’ve always wanted but which has always been outside their budget. After all, on UK roads this car is just about as fast as any other for having a bit of back-route fun.
For those who realise they don’t need a big car but still hanker after an open one, they’ll want this Citroen Airscape as soon as they C1.
Car: Citroen C1 Airscape Feel VTi 68 five door
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 10.9 secs
Top speed: 106 mph
PS: 69 @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 95 Nm @ 4800 rpm
...and your wallet...
CO2 emissions: 95g/km
Best bits: a bigger experience than its size suggests