Citroën is planning to give its baby model a dash of DS-like style for this next generation, due by 2012.
These grainy spy images of a prototype C1, almost certainly captured on a mobile phone during a customer clinic, reveal that Citroën is planning to incorporate much more adventurous surfacing than on the current car. That is particularly apparent around the C-pillars, which morph into a roof-mounted rear spoiler.
The next-gen C1 does retain some elements of the current car, however. The rear hatch appears set to remain as a single piece of glass.
Citroën needs the C1 to grow up slightly, having axed the C2 in the spring. So the next-gen model will be around 15cm longer than the current car. That should push its dimensions towards those of the 3.6m-long Renault Twingo, seen by PSA Peugeot Citroën as a key rival.
The new C1 will, as now, be cast from the same mould as Peugeot’s baby car (to be called 108) and Toyota’s Aygo. Individualisation of all three models will be focused on the front and rear ends. Concerns over cost mean some of the side body panels are almost certain to be shared across the trio.
The C1 is likely to have more daring styling than the 107, though, as part of PSA’s strategy. The firm’s product chief, Vincent Besson, told France’s l’Automobile magazine that Citroën would be the brand “taking risks, opening new territories” while Peugeot would be “the reference”.
At the heart of the new cars will be a new three-cylinder engine, developed by PSA. In normally aspirated 1.0-litre form, it is said to develop just 74bhp, but the range will include more powerful variants, including a 133bhp 1.2-litre turbo version. The more modest unit is said to be delivering 95g/km of CO2 emissions in a C3, so it should be capable of less than 90g/km in the smaller, lighter C1, 108 and Aygo.
The new powerplants will be made at a factory in Douvrin in the Pas-de-Calais region. PSA announced in the spring that it is investing €175 million (£148m) in the facility in preparation for three-cylinder powerplants. The factory will be able to build up to 320,000 units per year, starting in 2013.
C1 sales are said to have held up better than those of the 107 and, in particular, the Aygo. Toyota sold fewer than 8500 examples in the car’s ‘domestic’ market, France, between January and September, but Citroën shifted almost 24,000 C1s there during the same period. The car represents 10 per cent of the company’s ‘home’ sales.
Toyota has already recommitted to a continuation of the current production contract, under which all three models are produced at a plant in Kolin, Czech Republic. Its input into the project is said to have been important in maximising the cars’ profitability.
Citroën is being freed up on the C1 because it is already working on a separate range of purer, more minimalist models that will sit alongside it in its line-up. These new models will have fewer ‘premium’ features but, crucially, not a radically lower price.
The first car in this new strategy is likely to take styling cues from the C-Cactus concept, shown at Frankfurt in 2007. PSA design boss Jean-Pierre Ploué told Autocar in the summer that the new sub-brand — which Citroën considers a separate division, along with DS, its regular models and Picasso MPVs — will be “a brand not defined by price but by simplicity and ingenuity of design”.
Insiders say that while the C-Cactus’s looks are being toned down for production, its core shape is being retained to produce a radical-looking five-door. It’s likely to arrive soon after the C1, in late 2012 or early 2013.Citroën still plans to use the C1’s small increase in size to broaden the model’s scope. The new baby’s line-up is likely to include everything from three-door and five-door variants to a spec-laden ‘Exclusive’ trim level.