Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions

Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. Logic suggests these two cars would have identical constructions, but apparently not.

Toyota & Citroen

The previous generation small car from Toyota and PSA, though basically the same vehicle, differed quite markedly in its rear treatment, particularly in 5 door form.

The Toyota is more conventional and looks, maybe, the slightly more substantial, grown-up car with a full body panel, seamlessly integrated with the body structure from sill to roof. All the normal joins are present – bumper to wing/wing to door/door to wheelarch/tailgate to rear wing, etc.

The Citroen and Peugeot versions, however, simplify this greatly, dispensing with anything that could be identified as a rear wing so that the door abuts the bumper directly, with the high level rear light spanning the gap between rear door and tailgate and with the door running directly into the wheelarch. This is by far the more interesting solution and, you’d guess, a cheaper one too.

So why did Toyota choose the fussier route? It’s unlikely that PSA could teach Toyota much about reducing production costs, so was it an aesthetic decision? Or maybe just to differentiate it from the PSA cars? It seems odd to have a collaborative venture that uses two distinctly different solutions.

In Mark 2 form the situations are strangely reversed. Citroen seems to have adopted Toyota’s previous approach, whilst Toyota is going for a more radical look, though without the panel saving of the original C1.  The Aygo actually looks like the C1’s successor and vice-versa.

Toyota & Citroen B

24 thoughts on “Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions”

  1. The Citroen C1 has to be admired for its economical construction. Such tricks are not screamingly obvious to customers in the way the cheapness of a AX was.

  2. I always liked the 1st generation PSA twins better than the Aygo, exactly for the reason you point out: that clever minimizing of visible panels and the resulting clarity in the design (it was a bit less pronounced at the front, though). It’s also a reason why I prefer the design of the five-door variant over the three-door – besides my general dislike for cars with bad rear seat access.

    With the reversed tendencies on the new cars, I see also my preferences shifted somewhat – although it’s not with a full conviction. While the PSAs are just too bland in the rear half, and the C1 very awkwardly tries to marry the overhead DRLs with round headlights, the Aygo’s design is coherent and characterful. But it’s also overdone in its aggressivity (like most Toyota and Lexus designs) and the waistline is definitely rising too high.

    On a side note: I know that there are people here who like colourful cars. What about this reddish-orange colour that has come with the new generation of the trio? I really like to see something like it, and not even metallic!

  3. I agree: the reddish orange is rather fab. And while the Aygo is trying a bit too hard it strikes a better balance of fun and purpose. But it’s not so much (any) fun to drive and nothing more than adequate of controls.
    I wonder how many people spot the trick the first series C1 pulled off with those minimised panels? It is clever design. Respectworthy.

    1. As you know the number of DTW readers, there might already be the answer to your question…

  4. I find the swap-over so odd. Almost as if the joint production agreement decreed that one company had to make the conservative version, one the more ‘funky’ one. This time round it was Toyota’s turn. Waku-Doki! Or do I mean “Go Fun Yourself!”

  5. I was most surprised to find the Aygo the best styled of the revised trio. Indeed, I was very surprised when a friend willingly chose the C1 over the Aygo, all other things being equal.

    1. If I had to choose between the two and wanted a practical city car, I might opt for the PSA versions, but only because I imagine that rear 3/4 visibility is much better. Aesthetically the Toyota is far preferable to me. I’m sure that Linda Jackson finds the (pre her watch) C1 a frustratingly fun-free zone.

  6. I strongly hope that the C1 doesn’t get too much of this “fun”. Otherwise, the only Citroën model that, according to my car dealer, is still selling decently, might also fall out of the public’s taste. On the other hand, the orange canvas roof and striped seats in certain versions already seem quite fun already. At least in a world where driving fun (is there a good translation for the German “Fahrspaß”?) is obviously too much to ask for.

    But back to the panels now. Upon closer examination – this blog really makes me scrutinise cars like I never did before – I noticed that on both generations, the front doors are exactly the same for Toyota and PSA. I bet it’s true also for windscreens and roofs. Isn’t it amazing how they fit into designs of such different character? Take for example the outward fold on the door bottom. On the Toyota it’s continued in the rear door with an unusual down curvature, while on the Citroën it rather boringly joins the rear wheelarch crease.

    1. Richard. The first point is: in either of the two generations, the front door is the same for all three brands (you probably got this one).
      The second point was less clear, sorry for that. On the newer generation of the three cars, the front door has a fold that I marked light blue in the photo below. Although it’s the same on the front door, its continuation on the rear door is completely different.

  7. I’m not a fan of the new Aygo, and remain a big fan of the AX. The dash of the Mk1 aside, I have never the car to look cheap or tinny. It was remarkably light, handled and rode very well, was blessed of an excellent gear-change and smooth and revvy TU series engine.

  8. It´s true the AX handled well and had lightness on its side. In 1400 form it must have been as fast as lightning that had been well greased. However, it did not have robustness on its side. It wasn´t worse than its peers. My point is that all small cars around that time more or less used the same construction principles as bigger cars. The current crop of little ones are compact enough to involve some original thinking in the combination or elimination of the usual main pieces.
    Note: if I could get my feet to fit the small footwell of the AX I would be happy to potter around in one. Later models had a good interior which looked quite sturdy.

  9. Like SV, I rate the AX highly. This might contain a certain amount of nostalgia, as it was my mother’s car on which I learned driving. Some years later, it even became my first own car. While not one of the sportier GT(i) models, it still had a 1400 engine, but tuned down to 60 HP to meet Swiss pollution standards of the time which required a catalyst (combined with a carburettor, in this case!). So, it was not exactly lightning fast, but still reasonably quick if not loaded too heavily. It also had a top spec configuration, which means no painted metal on the inside, velours seats, a glovebox lid, electrical front windows and central locking. So the feeling was not cheap, but still a bit tacky in places (it had the series 1 dash).

    As I like to think favourably about the car, I attribute its flimsyness rather to weight than cost saving, but in the end it might have been a mix of both. And while it was conventionally built in most places, it’s still a good example for fuel economy and clever packaging. And it had one little detail that probably was a predecessor to the C1’s glass-only hatch: its rear windscreen didn’t have a frame, but the hinges were directly attached to the top of the glass and a plastic bootlid part to its bottom.

    Sometimes I really feel pity that I scrapped the car after it began to show some rust. I’d love to have a well preserved example again, but it has become extremely rare around here.

    1. Simon: thanks for the images. Well spotted. I had not seen that before. Can you imagine the number of meetings held to discuss the shape of the common panel?
      And about the AX: I have shifted my opinion about it now thanks to your and SV’s lobbying.

    2. I agree. Conventional though it was, there was something about the AX that didn’t make make it seem entirely out of place next to the BX and CX.

    3. Odd that you mention this, Sean. Because in the mid-to-late eighties, I used to think that it was the CX that looked out of place in the Citroën range, like a relict of a different time (which it was – pre-PSA). The BX and the AX were very akin in their strive for extreme lightness, and used a much more simplified, rational design style than the CX. And although not hydropneumatic or super-soft, the AX still had a very comfort-oriented suspension. At least in the non-sporty versions I know best.

  10. One thing I cannot forgive Citroen for is the current C1’s A pillar. It is quite the worst combination of shutlines, paint and plastic fillet panels I have ever seen.

    1. We shouldn’t condemn these black pillars too much. After all, they perpetuate the honourable tradition of famous Citroën estates like the BX or XM.

    2. One of these passed my eyes the other day. Really: this is so poor. Sometimes you can understand how a solution came to be, realising that the alteratives come with some high cost. In this case, I can´t see why the A-pillar is split so there is an extra bit of metal between it and the bonnet.

  11. The Opel Adam gets away with it because the rest of the car is so jolly. I like the paintwork, the chrome detailing and the colour-combinations. The interior is funky as well. So, all things considered I can live with the Adam´s odd A-pillar.

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