Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota have released official pictures of their new small cars - the Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo - produced as part of a three-year joint venture.

Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota have released official pictures of their new small cars - the Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo - produced as part of a three-year joint venture.

They will be launched simultaneously at the Geneva Motor Show in March next year, and the manufacturers have released the first official pictures.

Developed on a common platform, all three cars will be produced at one plant in the Czech Republic, which will have an annual production capacity of 300 000 vehicles, or 100 000 each.

The three cars share a large number of structural components, parts and sub-assemblies but all reflect individual styling for the different marques. To ensure fairness, the cars' launches and initial sales will coincide with one another.

The rear-ends of the C1 and 107 are similar, but the Peugeot's nose is less dramatic, adopting the new family look with its headlamps and grille. The Toyota appears sportier, with a pointier nose and flared wheelarches. The view from the rear is also dramatically different.

No interior pictures have been released yet, though trim levels are expected to be very closely matched.

Aimed primarily at the European market, each car measures 3,4 metres long, 1,6 metres wide and 1,4 metres high. While maximum use has been made of the cars' compact dimensions, they will probably be equipped with sliding and folding rear seats.

Along with large plastic surfaces at the front and rear for parking dings, the cars also have advanced safety technologies. Large glass areas help with all-round visibility.

Engines will be a choice of a 50 kW 1,0-litre petrol or a 55 kW 1,4-litre diesel. It is expected that automatic and semi-automatic transmissions will be offered on most models. More options are expected, but with great demand expected, these are unlikely to be effected before 2006.

Citroën will offer its new Stop & Start technology on the C1, although it won't be part of its standard specification, PSA Peugeot-Citroën's innovation and quality boss, Robert Peugeot, said.

The system cuts out the engine while the car is stationary in traffic and comprises a more powerful alternator that can electronically switch the direction of electric current, so that the former acts as a motor that restarts the powerplant on pullaway.

According to a report, when fitted to a C3, Stop & Start technology could cut urban fuel consumption by at least 10 per cent.

Stop & Start will at first be only available with petrol engines and the Sensodrive transmission, but PSA will probably extend it to cover both manual 'boxes and diesels.