The C1 is a distinctive city car with quirky styling and a range of highly economical engines. As the smallest and lightest car in the Citroën line-up, the C1 is perfectly adapted for life in the city. You can specify your C1 with three or five doors and there are Touch, Feel and Flair trim levels on offer, along with myriad customisation options.
Sleek and compact, the C1 is small but perfectly formed. Features such as split-level headlights and vertical LED bulbs integrated into the front bumper create a unique light signature. Two-tone contrast paint colours are on offer as an option, and the Airscape model adds a folding fabric roof.
The C1’s chic aesthetic flows seamlessly from the exterior into the cabin. There are colour-coded features throughout the cockpit, accentuating the centre console and gear levers. With five full-sized seats, the C1 is a practical car for transporting families or groups of friends. The seats are supportive and can be covered with a wide range of fabric and trim choices.
There are two engines to choose from: a 1.0-litre petrol unit with optional start/stop technology and a 1.2-litre PureTech which delivers 82bhp. Whichever engine you choose, the C1 feels lively to drive around town, with strong acceleration and responsive handling. The smaller engine is the more frugal – when fitted with this unit the C1 returns up to 74.3mpg and emits just 88g/km of CO2.
Each C1 trim level includes hill hold control as standard, which stops you from rolling back when you attempt a hill start, along with a comprehensive range of safety features. Feel and Flair variants boast a seven-inch touchscreen in the cabin with Mirrorlink smartphone integration. The range-topping Flair specification also includes a reversing camera to make city parking a breeze.
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If you’re thinking the Citroen C1 looks an awful lot like the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, you’d be right – they’re basically the same car. But with slightly different specifications and styling, they’re aimed at different people. The name of the game for the C1 is young and funky, and it does a pretty good job at delivering.
We’re testing it here in mid-spec Feel trim, paired with the full-length fabric sunroof – named ‘Airscape’ by Citroen.
The C1’s been available since 2014 and hasn’t changed much. Indeed, the only edit we’ve noticed is the addition of an up-to-date touchscreen infotainment system on the inside – replacing the dated unit previously available. This new box offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a much easier-to-use interface.
Otherwise, the C1 is business as usual, taking the Toyota Aygo and replacing its rather angry, angular face with a more ‘cute’ rounded Citroen item.
While there used to be a more powerful 1.2-litre engine available, Citroen now only offers the C1 with a single 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol. It produces 71bhp at a screaming 6,000rpm and will crawl to 60mph in 14.4 seconds.
Is that a problem? For most users, not really. Those who do lots of motorway miles aren’t likely to be shopping for a city car, after all, and it’s a perky unit at low speed. Combined with the crisp five-speed manual – avoid the automatic like the plague – it’s possible to have some fun in the C1, provided you don’t attempt to stray over 30mph. Economy is also stellar – we averaged well over 60mpg without even trying.
The C1 is no hot hatchback but it’s surprisingly good fun to chuck around on a twisting road. A combination of quick steering, lots of grip and absolutely no weight means you won’t easily overwhelm the tiny tyres – there’s simply not enough power to do so.
We’re also big fans of the fabric sunroof on our Airscape model – after all, a bit of fresh air makes any drive more exhilarating. It doesn’t appear to harm structural rigidity, either.
Our test car was painted in a really pleasant minty green shade – happily, a no-cost option, though one somewhat spoiled by the cheap-looking plastic wheel trims. The C1’s stubby proportions are cute rather than sleek, but it’s a shape that wears Citroen’s ‘upside-down’ family face well – consisting of slim indicator and sidelight strips atop projector-style halogen headlights. Round the back, there’s an all-glass tailgate, which looks pretty slick.
It’s in here where the C1 has tough competition from its rivals such as the Skoda Citigo or Suzuki Celerio. The C1 is smaller overall which is more practical for short journeys which makes this car a great little run around car rather than for longer journeys.
The boot isn't the most spacious as it’s slim, deep and covered by a fabric parcel shelf. However the overall interior of the C1 feels quite durable, but there’s little flair to the design or materials. Everything is hardworking black plastic, unlike rivals such as the Renault Twingo which inject a little pizzazz into proceedings.
Entry-level Touch trim is only available on three-door cars, with five-door models getting a choice of Feel or Flair trims. The basic cars include front electric windows, a two-speaker stereo, LED daytime running lights and remote locking – and not much else. Step up to Feel and you’ll get larger steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and air-conditioning plus a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display.
Top-spec Flair adds alloy wheels, chrome trim, electric mirrors, a rev-counter, a reversing camera and tinted rear windows. Airscape models come with a massive fabric sunroof, and can be had in otherwise-unchanged Feel and Flair trims.
The C1 is a good city car, it’s cheerful, fun to drive and rather cute to look at – and for some that will be all they want.
Model as tested: Citroen C1 Feel Airscape
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Max speed: 98mph
Rivals: Toyota Aygo, Skoda Citigo, Suzuki Celerio
Take a closer look by using our interior and exterior tours
Finance offers apply to qualifying new vehicles ordered and delivered by 31/12/18. Offers available to qualifying retail customers excluding Citroën Contract Motoring. Finance offers apply to UK Mainland only. Finance subject to status. Guarantees may be required. Over 18s only. Excess mileage charge of 6.6p per mile will apply if you exceed the agreed annual mileage. Written quotations available on request from PSA Finance UK Ltd trading as Citroën Financial Services, Quadrant House, Princess Way, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1QA.
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