We’ll start with the Frenchy
Under the skin, the new C1 is the same as the new versions of the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108. All three are available with a petrol engine which is just under 1 litre, but the cool thing about the Citroen is that you can buy it with a 1.2-litre petrol engine which is a teeny bit more powerful.

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French cars are cool. Is this one?

We drove the 1.2-litre Citroen C1 (called the PureTech 82) in Flair trim with 5 doors and the really cool Airscape folding roof, which you can operate at pretty high speeds, saving you having to stop to drop your top. Okay, it’s not a proper convertible, but everyone in the car will really feel the wind in their hair and have a smile on their faces. The pinkish colour (actually ‘Sunrise Red’) of the car we tested grew on me and the new C1 looks so much better than the old one. Its face looks a bit cartoony but so does the Aygo’s, and overall we reckon the Citroen is the best-looking of the three, with a design combining style, fun and class, complete with funky alloy wheels and stylish tinted windows at the back.

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Want Need gadgets? Sorted!

The interior’s a big improvement too, generally built to a higher quality and with loads of customisable colour choices. Some of the plastics are a bit horrid still, but the front cabin feels really roomy for a dinky city car and the large touchscreen is great for all tech-heads. Basically, you can sync’ your smartphone with it and then use the screen to operate everything from text messaging and social media to your phone’s sat nav. The only snag is when you lose signal and lose your map, but you can’t have it all. Room in the back is cramped so make sure anyone tall sits up front, where they will enjoy the sports-style seat. For the driver, the flat-bottom steering wheel is a nice touch, too.
Is it any good to drive and how much does it cost?

On the road

The engine and gearbox combination wasn’t as immediate to gel with as in some other cars, until we’d judged the clutch bite and got on the same wavelength as the mad little engine which loves to be revved. The extra power of the 82 means it’s nippier at pulling out of junctions and more fun on country roads. The new C1 was pretty comfy to drive and soaked up bumps nicely, although some people may find the engine noise gets on their wick. For newer drivers, the gear shift indicator is really handy to help you get the best from the car, which is said to do upto 74mpg, so will be good for your wallet. The car we tested cost £12,335 which is about the same as an Aygo or 108 in a similar spec, but with a slightly less powerful engine. Equally good news is the road tax, which costs nothing, as the C1 emits 99g of CO2 per kilometre, crucially under the 100g threshold. It’s in insurance group 11E.

Now for the Korean Hyundai i10. A looker?

Fair enough, some of you may start yawning looking at the Hyundai pictures straight after the wacky Citroen, but I really respect the i10’s sensible, mature styling. Blending in is sometimes more desirable than standing out and although it’s a bit plain, the new Hyundai still looks pretty decent and it’s definitely not ugly. It always comes with 5 doors and Korean cars tend to be solid, reliable and built-to-last.

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On the inside

The Citroen may have come with that cool touchscreen that you can mirror your smartphone onto, but the quality of several parts of the interior would be put to shame by a lunchbox. We drove a SE trim version of the all-new Hyundai i10 and although it didn’t come with any modern gadgets, the interior felt much better quality-wise and was far smarter and more pleasant to sit in overall. If you think it will therefore cost more than the Citroen, you’re wrong! The i10 we drove actually cost just over £2,000 less! The stereo in the Hyundai sounded great but legroom in the rear was poor just like in the C1.

SMMT North 2014 first impressions drive road test review - new 2015 Hyundai i10 SE - photo - interior

How it drives

The SE trim model will be the biggest selling i10 in the UK and the engine we tested wasn’t as powerful as the C1’s 82, so the Hyundai’s 65 horse power did struggle to pull it along at times and meant I was often changing down the gears to pick up speed. If you’re after a fast city car, this one probably ain’t for you. If on the other hand you want a grown-up, really comfortable city car with a brilliant feel to the gears and clutch, which glides over bumps and is heaps of fun to drive on winding roads even if it’s not that powerful, take notice of the new i10. The driving experience really was that impressive. Costing £9,610 as tested, the i10 in 66PS 1-litre guise emits 108g of CO2 per kilometre, putting road tax at a very affordable £20 a year. It’s supposed to give you 60mpg combined fuel economy and it’s in insurance group 1.

So which one’s the winner?

It depends what you want, really, but I reckon the new Hyundai i10 is the car I’d much rather live with day-to-day. It’s cheaper, has a nicer interior and handles and rides really well. On the downside, its engine is a bit weedy and it doesn’t have as much cool technology as the new Citroen C1. The French car looks far more stylish if you’re seeking street cred’ and it’s got more power, although the engine is a bit noisy. It costs more but has that really cool folding fabric roof; however the interior is lower quality. You could almost sum up the difference as being that the Citroen’s extra £2.5k gets you a funkier car with more technology and better acceleration, if that’s a price you’re willing to pay.

© Author: Oliver Hammond

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