Citroen C1 review - does French hatch offer the thrill of city driving?

evo staff
27 Nov 2015

Good value city car, but unrefined on the road

Evo Rating: 
Efficient, easy to park, well-equipped and good value
Poor body control, coarse manners, better rivals

evo Verdict

Citroen's second-generation C1 packs a lot into a tiny package and it's great value-for-money. Running costs should be minimal too thanks to low emissions and fuel consumption across the range, while some buyers will love the youthful interior design and up-to-the minute connectivity tech. There are three- and five-door body styles and even a pseudo-cabriolet model to choose from. However, the city car segment is a full one and along with its close relations from Toyota and Peugeot, the C1 has to compete with the best-in-class alternatives from Hyundai and the Volkswagen Group. It's just not refined or enjoyable enough to do that convincingly.

evo Tip

Arguably one of the most interesting aspects of the Citroen C1 is the fact that it can be had with an electric sliding canvas roof, opening up the entire cabin to the elements. But while it's great for a sunny day by the seaside, the majority of the time it's just plain noisy. It leaves as much wind roar and exterior noise in whether the roof is in place or not. Stay away we say.

evo Comment

If you're not a fan of the Citroen C1's angry-looking visage, or you have a Toyota or Peugeot dealer closer to home, then it's worth considering the equally-new Aygo and 108 too. All three cars are built on the same platform, use the same components under the skin, measure about the same and cost in and around the same price with loads of options to choose from. They all feel largely similar from the driver's seat too so it really does come down to your personal preference on the styling front and perhaps the deal you can negotiate with the salesman. Citroen has long been known for good discounts though. Perhaps use the fact that the Toyota Aygo (using the same mechanicals as the French car) has a longer warranty as a stick to parley with.

Performance and 0-60mph time > Not a quick car, but nor will customers expect it to be. Both engines have enough urge for city driving, but the 1.2 is better if you plan on longer trips.

Engine and gearbox > A choice of two, three-cylinder engines, the smaller of which adds an automated gearbox option to the standard manual. The larger lump is the smoother of the pair.

Ride and handling > Impressive pliancy for a car of this size, but handling lacks the verve of some of the C1's historical predecessors. Think 2CV softness, rather than AX and Saxo precision.

MPG and running costs > By evo standards - indeed, by most standards - the C1 is not an expensive car to run. MPG is in the high 60s, VED is low to non-existent and servicing shouldn't be too scary either.

Prices, specs and rivals > Near-identical Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo are the C1's closest rivals; VW/Skoda/SEAT Up/Citigo/Mii trio probably its most talented. Purchase costs are low.

Interior and tech > Contemporary, if simple cabin design and decent connectivity should make it a hit with city car buyers. Not the most spacious in its class, but not bad.

Design > A slightly odd front end, but not unattractive elsewhere. Airscape canvas roof turns it into a tiny convertible.

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