Citroen C1 review


What is?

Do you remember the launch of the Citroën C1 in the mid-2000s? Along with the Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo, which used the same parts but each looked a little different, it heralded a new way of thinking about small cars.

There were deliberate touches to make it cheaper and lighter than its rivals: rear windows that pop out instead of closing on five-doors, and a single string for the parcel shelf. Take care of the pennies and the books will take care of themselves, and all that…

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Their clever thinking launched something of a renaissance for the supermini category in which they competed, and the following years saw the arrival of another co-developed trio, the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo as well. 500 and rear-engined Renault Twingo, all trying to outwit the C1 and its siblings.

Citroën’s response has not been to reinvent the C1 – spend a huge development budget on a car like this and its bargain price will have to rise accordingly – but to give it a new look, inspired by the rest of its range, and lots of customization options.

Some of them are relatively high-end: You can have a folding top, like a Fiat 500C, while big-car tech like cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen, and a rear-view camera are on the list. options. Those nostalgic for the small old Citroëns will also be able to delight in certain equipment names: if you miss the old Saxo Furio, you can have a C1 Furio with flashy graphics…

Two engines are offered: a 68bhp 1.0-litre and an 82bhp 1.2-litre, both with just three cylinders and neither turbocharged. Both come with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, but you can fit an automatic transmission on the 1.0. With both cars weighing around 860kg – roughly what an entry-level Lotus Elise weighed – performance isn’t as sluggish as you might fear.

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Prices start at just over £9,000 for an entry-level car, but it will be just that: no touchscreen and no air conditioning. The rear seats don’t even split if you want to fold them down. The highest tier, called Feel, will most likely be a better bet, though it will probably set you back upwards of £11,000. We suspect these are mostly bought through attractive lease deals anyway, but the supermini category is very competitive – bargain hard as there are plenty of cars as good, if not better, than the C1 these days.

Our choice of the range.

1.0 VTi Flair 3 doors

What’s the verdict?

Similar to the one below, but with a more cheerful character and even lower running costs.

In 2005, the C1 (and its 107 and Aygo ratios) was class leading and slightly revolutionary in its thinking. Inevitably, that’s not the case now, and the smaller Citroën isn’t in the top ten in its class. A Twingo is more interesting, an i10 is more practical, and the mighty Up is just better.

It’s still a relatively inexpensive small car, and if you just want something simple, small, and fun, it still gets the job done. It also offers a folding roof for more than $2,000 less than the cheapest Fiat 500C, which may tempt some.

The city car category is extraordinarily competitive and the C1 does not stand out in any area. But it’s not particularly slow either, unless boot space is particularly important, so it’s still relevant, even if it’s no longer groundbreaking.

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