The gloves are off at last. You get the feeling that Citroën, Peugeot and Toyota have all had quite enough of being polite to one another over the past three years, while conceiving their pretty, shared city car in a new factory in the Czech Republic, variously badged C1, 107 and Aygo.
They have all donned the boxing gloves with relish, and are about to enjoy beating one another in the marketplace.
Citroën, whose C1 starts selling here next month, is ostensibly in the best position. It has a tradition of pricing its cars unusually keenly in the UK, and on past performance could be expected to undercut both Toyota and Peugeot, the family foe. However, it may not work out quite like that.
Local Citroën MD Alain Favey agrees that he intends to price the C1 decisively below the firm’s two other small-car offerings, the C2 and C3, and intends to position the car as ‘a car for people who have more to do with their money than buy cars.’ But he points out that he will have only about 2000 cars to sell for the rest of this year, so he may hold the customarily aggressive pricing strategy until 2006, when more like 10,000 cars should be available for the UK.
At present, Citroën will only say that the more basic of its two versions, the Vibe (two airbags, no tacho but with a radio/CD as standard) will hit the market at ‘under £7000.’