Citroen reveals softtop C1; touts 'cheerful' design

The C1's front end features the brand's new styling characteristics that include two-part headlamps and round inserts that create a "smiling" face, Citroen said.
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Citroen has given its latest C1 minicar what it calls a "cheerful" design to help the car stand out in Europe's highly competitive minicar segment.

The French brand is also adding a C1 variant with a sliding fabric roof called Airscape, Citroen said in a statement.

Citroen today released pictures and some details about the second generation of the minicar ahead of its debut at next month's Geneva auto show.

The C1's front end has been styled to give it a "smiling" face, Citroen said.

New-generation gasoline engines and the car's low weight (840kg) will put the C1 among the best in class for fuel consumption, the statement said.

The C1 will be built alongside its siblings, the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's joint plant with Toyota in the Czech Republic. All three cars will debut on March 4.

Citroen says the C1 Airscape will have an exceptionally large softtop at 800mm x 760mm.

Like the Peugeot 108, the C1 comes in three- and five-door versions. It will be offered with a choice of two gasoline engines but no diesel.

The Airscape softtop variant will be a rival to the Fiat 500 Cabrio and Opel Adam Rocks, which also have electronically controlled sliding softtops. The Adam Rocks will debut in Geneva.

Adding softtop variants of minicars is part of automakers' efforts to offer more individualization options to buyers, said Ian Fletcher, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive. It's also a way to improve profits by adding options customers will happy a lot of money for, he said.

The take-up rate for the Airscape might not be high because the C1 is mainly bought as a city runabout where air conditioning is likely to be seen as a far more useful feature. "I wonder how many customers are likely to choose the feature on such a vehicle again after specifying it the first time," he said.

Citroen sold 56,786 C1 cars in Europe last year, down 13 percent from the year before, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers. Sales of the Peugeot 107, the 108's predecessor, were 55,242, down 20 percent. Toyota sold 63,770 Aygos, down 12 percent.

VIDEO: New Citroen C1 - First look - 2014

You can reach Bruce Gain at bgain@crain.com.

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