Theres no mistaking the Connexion for any other C1: bright red door handles and mirror casings are standard

There's no mistaking the Connexion for any other C1: bright red door handles and mirror casings are standard

Glenn Brooks found a lot to like about the Citroën C1 Connexion, the first production car on UK roads resulting from an app created in collaboration with Facebook.

It hasn't taken me eight years to get around to driving this little car, as you might suspect by the fact that I am reviewing it here for the first time. I've had a go in its Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107 brothers on earlier occasions, though this was my first time behind the wheel of the updated versions of any of these triplets.

The C1 was facelifted for the second time last year but there weren't any great mechanical changes at that time, just some LED daytime lights and a few other modifications at the front end, plus a light freshening of the interior.

Both two- and four-door body styles come down the same line as their Peugeot and Toyota equivalents at the TPCA plant in the Czech Republic. I probably should call them all three- and five-door hatchbacks, but technically speaking, they're not. Instead of a full tailgate, you get a Volvo C30-style glass panel that flips up, held aloft by just the one gas strut.

The unusual arrangement for the rear hatch betrays one of the major reasons for these cars' very existence: they were an experiment in lean design and lean manufacturing, set up in the early 2000s by PSA and Toyota Motor (TMC). The platform was donated by TMC and is based upon the first generation Yaris but with certain costs taken out. The TPCA factory at Kolin is part of the joint venture and it still builds just these models.

Eight years is a long time to have been making any model, but no doubt the sudden downturn in the European market influenced the partners' decision to delay the replacements. These I would expect to appear perhaps at September's Frankfurt show, or failing that, in 2014. There have even been rumours about a theoretical DS1 variant on the same platform in 2014 or 2015 - there might well be a small but handily profitable market in some countries such as the UK, France and Italy for such a model.

Returning to the clever ways in which money was saved in the development of not only the C1 but also the 107 and Aygo, if you look at the back doors, you'll see studs in the windows. These hold the glass in place as the window is hinged, so it flips out a few centimetres: there is far less cost if you eliminate the winding mechanism.

Other kaizen-style money savers in evidence? Well, it has been some time since I came across a car with manual mirror adjusters but the C1 has them. It sounds like an inconvenience but in something this narrow, proves to be no problem at all, as long as you're good at judging where the gutter is for reverse parking.

The Connexion's spec is a bit odd- no power mirrors but you do get air conditioning and remote central locking as well as electric front windows And how about this, which was a first for me: open the driver's door and a light comes on, but open the boot or any other door and the car's interior remains dark. I found myself wondering just how big the potential savings from omitting a few switches could possibly be. No passenger grab handle and no hook to hang a suit jacket on either, it's worth noting.

The penny-pinching extends to one windscreen wiper but it does a good job of clearing a large portion of the screen and PSA & Toyota do switch it for RHD cars. I forgot to mention a moment ago something else that saves money - the driver has no switch for the passenger's electric window but there again, it's easy enough to lean across in a car of this size.

Due to the good quality sound system, the A/C, comfy cloth seats and a few other items in the C1's interior, you don't feel at all short-changed with this little car. Me, I'd prefer an automatic gearbox in a city car but there again I seem to have always been in a minority on that issue. The manual shift is quite fun and for once, five ratios seem to be enough too.

The skinny tyres and steering that is the opposite of the mushy over-assisted systems on some rivals tend to help put a smile on your face every time you venture out in this car. It feels 'raw' if that makes sense - like a bang up to date Peugeot 106. You sense how light the C1 is (805kg) and that's a very good thing.

The 50kW (68hp) three-cylinder petrol engine has enough power to push the car as hard as you could possibly want to - bodyroll is much in evidence, as is a pleasingly zingy noise when you rev it - but this is not a GTI, it's a city car that's perfectly fine at motorway speeds too. You won't worry about running costs either, as the CO2 average is just 99g/km, while the BIK rating is 10%, servicing is every 10,000 miles and the insurance rating is 4E. The real world fuel economy I found to be, as ever, close to the official Combined number of 65.7mpg but if you're a feather-foot you might well get near to the impressive 74.3mpg of the Extra Urban cycle. Sometimes it really can be asked: who needs a diesel?

Here is something that jumps off the spec sheet at me: I would expect the replacement model to be an improvement on the Euro NCAP crash rating which is listed as a mere three stars. To be fair to PSA and Toyota, consumers weren't so concerned about these things when the C1/107/Aygo were launched in 2005.

The Connexion's slightly unusual standard equipment mix can be explained by the way this special edition came into being. Citroën UK crowdsourced it on Facebook, basing the potential result on its existing VTR trim level. So there are alloy wheels and metallic paint but the rest was left up to members of the public.

The company claims more than 24,000 configurations were submitted via a specially created app, while 10,000 competition entries were received to win the first car. The final spec was selected from the most popular of the 24,000 suggestions. As you'd expect, some of the items that people most wanted were things like an auxiliary socket for an MP3 player - I've been shocked by how many new cars out there still don't have this function - body-coloured bumpers and dark tinted windows (the latter looked great on my 'Caldera Black' test car.

The door handles - they look a lot like they come from the Peugeot 206 to me - are in contrasting Scarlet Red, as are the mirror casings and I got used to them during my week with the Connexion. The same bright red trim on the dashboard and carpet matts also soon became perhaps surprisingly fine to live with - it's the same idea that Opel-Vauxhall had for the Adam but in this case, you're paying a lot less money.

Prices for the two-door C1 Connexion start at GBP109/month, with Citroën targeting younger buyers with insurance built into its Elect 4 Personal Lease package for anyone 19 years or older. I found it tricky to get exact prices for the Connexion, which is based on the middle trim level, but the base model starts at just over GBP9,000, with the top-spec four-door VTR+ topping out at just over GBP10,500.