Citroën’s Airscape has personality plus and flair

001-off-my-wheelsBrian Joss –

Feel it!  Citroën’s Airscape Feel exudes personality and has loads of character. I don’t often ascribe human traits to cars but I will make an exception for the Citroën C1 VTi 82 Airscape Feel after living with it for 10 days.

First, let’s get the downside out of the way: it has limited luggage capacity, although inside there are a few hidden storage spaces.

The Citroën C1 VTi 82 Airscape Feel:  great for trawling the highways and byways. Picture: Quickpic
The Citroën C1 VTi 82 Airscape Feel: great for trawling the highways and byways. Picture: Quickpic

Despite its small looking size it is spacious inside,  with room enough for two passengers at the rear, but not if they’re six-footers.

The face of the Airscape has a really cheeky grin, thanks to the double chevron Citroën logo which is one of the oldest and most recognisable emblems in the motoring industry. The logo symbolises double helical gears, facing upwards. The gears were patented by Andre Citroën,  the French businessman, who founded the company of the same name, and were known for low noise level and efficiency. The twin chevron evolved through time but has never left the hood of Citroën cars since 1919, when the company was established. According to the initial chevrons before World War II were painted yellow on deep blue font and were embedded into a yellow oval. In 1959 the logo received three-dimensional yellow chevrons, placed on white oval-shaped font. Later on the deep blue ornament was returned to the badge. In the 1980s,  Citroën was looking for a more dynamic image and placed the white chevrons on a red background. The current 3D emblem, introduced in 2009 to celebrate the company’s 90th anniversary, features smooth silver chevrons that lost their sharp shape,, said.

And it also adds to the cheeky face of the Airscape, I think.

The Airscape is powered by the renowned PureTech engine. This 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine which puts out 60 kW at 5 750 rpm and 116 N.m at 2 750 rpm is fuel efficient, using 4.3 litres/100km on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. However, those figures from Citroën are exaggerated and were probably achieved under ideal driving conditions. My calculations were closer to 7 litres/100km, admittedly my foot sometimes was a bit heavy on the right pedal,   so I think with a lighter foot you could bring the figure down to the 6 litre/100km mark. The tank takes 35 litres.

Citroën said it can reach 100km/h in 11 seconds and it has a top speed of 170km/h. I can believe it because the VTi 82 has plenty of oomph.

Road holding is excellent and on a trip to Gordon’s Bay with the rain bucketing down it carried on regardless. And the large single wiper was super efficient. Steering is sharp with lots of feedback. Handling is good too and the front-wheel drive Airscape Feel held its own around the curves.

The ride is smooth and it takes road imperfections in its stride and there’s hardly any cabin noise to speak of, so there is no need to have the sound system with its four speakers, pumping out the decibels.  The five-speed manual transmission is precise and the lever moves easily through the gears.

The Airscape Feel easily keeps up with traffic on the highways: it’s no slouch up hills either and there’s no need to stir the pot a lot. It just  keeps on cruisin’.  And in the city it’s especially agile and easy to park, thanks to the small 3.6m turning circle.

You can also indulge in a bit of “open air” motoring if you want to. Although it’s not a cabriolet,  the Airscape Feel has a sun roof with a full-length retractable top which folds back neatly at the touch of a switch to allow the sunshine in.

The interior has a bright and modern look. The test car was a Scarlet Red colour which was reflected on the trimmings inside, and around the 7 inch Touch Screen, which also houses the reverse camera.  Mirror screen technology allows you to control your smartphone from the drive interface and you can access the full range of apps including navigation, music and radio. The figures are easy to read on the instrument cluster which includes a trip computer and rev counter.

Although the windows in front are electrically controlled, you’ll have to exert yourself a bit to adjust the door mirrors manually. The driver’s seat is height adjustable and the steering wheel is multifunctional. Some stylish design touches include daytime-running light emitting diodes (LEDs) while the vertical lights create a hi-tech signature that adds to the car’s  style and character.

Safety features include hill start assist which holds the car steady for two seconds on slopes with a gradient of over three, and it is efficient;  six airbags; ABS with EBD; brake assist; stability control and seatbelt warning.

However, there is not much space for luggage. And in the  196 litre boot , you would be hard-pressed to squeeze in a week’s shopping, but  with the back seat folded flat  it increases to 786 litres, so you’ll have room for two holiday suitcases, however, no space for any back seat passengers.

That minus aside, the Citroën C1 VTi 82 Airscape Feel oozes French flair, it’s got personality plus and it’s a great car to drive, whether you’re trawling the highways and byways or dodging the traffic in the city, and it has style.

The price tag of R194 990 is, I think, on the heavy side. Competitors include the Volkswagen Up!, the Suzuki Splash and  the Fiat 500. Included is a three-year or 100 000km warranty but a service plan is optional.

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