The new Citroen C1 is twinned with the Peugeot 108 and the Toyota Aygo city cars, with all three built on the same production line in Spain.
Yet to battle the likes of the VW Up and Fiat 500, the Citroen has been given a stronger identity this time around, according to the French maker. But which city car is the pick of the bunch? Read on for CAR magazine's Citroen C1 review.
What’s new on the 2014 Citroen C1?
The new C1 is admittedly based on a modified version of the old model – which has been on sale since 2005, and sold 780,000 units – but it’s been massively worked over. Cosmetically, the C1 gets the new design language of the Citroen brand, which includes the split front headlamps that are intended to give it a cheeky look.
There are also colour-coding tricks such as the black A-pillar, something shared with the C4 Cactus but not on the 108 or in quite the same way on the Aygo, as well as a gloss black extended windscreen and rectangular taillamps reminiscent of the DS3’s rear lights. It’s offered in both three- and five-door body styles.
Citroen C1 spec and engines
There are two engines – a Polish-made 998cc with 80bhp, or the version we’re driving here, with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder made by PSA in France. It’s offered exclusively as a five-speed manual, and has 80bhp and claimed fuel consumption of 74.3mpg, and 88g/km of CO2, making it as efficient as the VW Up rival.
In terms of trim, we’re driving the mid-spec C1 Feel, which comes with LEDs up front, electric windows, 15in alloys, and an MP3 audio system with a USB socket.
Why does the Citroen C1 look so different from the Aygo and 108?
It’s all part of giving the Citroen a clear identity, making it instantly recognizable and never mistaken for its Peugeot or Toyota counterparts. While this car is a joint-effort between PSA and Toyota, it was the PSA cabin design that won over, so the C1’s cabin is funky and takes the exterior customisation options – from wheels, paint schemes and that funky ‘Airspace’ massive sunroof – brightening up the inside.
The big pieces of coloured dash panels – which don’t look particularly high-grade – can be chosen in an array of colours, while the brilliant seats can also be given lashings of bright colours and patterns to lift the otherwise plain cabin.
So the inside of the Citroen C1 is a letdown?
Let’s not forget that this car is priced from £8245, so the nasty door trims – all black, apart from the surrounds, which are body-coloured metal – and the average dash coverings are a minor complaint. What’s worse is that the driving position is compromised by the steering column, which is too low relative to the seat height, meaning an awkward driving position for taller drivers.
Crucial to the younger audience that this car is intended for, the C1 comes with 7in touchscreen interface as well as the same Mirrorlink feature allowing smartphone apps to be used in-car.
What's the C1 like to drive?
We sampled the C1 around the streets of Amsterdam, battling with an armada of bicycles, trams and the odd matt-black Chevrolet Impala. Old American metal could swallow the C1 whole, but the throttle response and pep makes the C1 easy to sneak through the traffic.
While the gearshift in our five-speed manual is a little notchy and lacks precision, the C1’s ride is supple and the body roll – helped by revised suspension that sees firmer dampers up front and a thicker anti-roll bar – is well contained. Throw in the excellent steering, which reacts sharply, tight turning circle and good visibility, and the C1 is a brilliant urban warrior.
What about the rear seats?
If you’re an adult, stick to the front: there’s limited headroom in the rear of a Citroen C1, even if adequate legroom is on offer, and that folding roof gives much needed light on a sunny day and can be closed with a single button touch. Sadly, the roof doesn’t free up any much-needed rear headroom… The boot, too, isn’t very large, its 780-litre outright capacity with seats folded shaded by the VW Up’s 959-litre for the five-door version.
The C1 is a cheeky, fun and efficient city car that has few foibles. While not exactly a bargain, it’s competitively priced, is fun to punt around city centres and has plenty of visual drama with an exterior that’s better finished than the VW Up, for instance. The cabin and the small boot are a minor let down but it’s still a practical, perky car that has been given a unique visual flavour.