This cheeky budget city car offers plenty of personality. The latest model of the Citroen C1 was launched in 2014 — so it offers more in terms of value than it does in cutting-edge technology. The C1 is cheap-to-run and particularly suited to town and city centre driving. It’ll also manage longer distances.
The original Citroen C1 dates back to 2005 when it appeared as a very successful joint venture with the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107. The pert little French city car had great looks and was so popular that when it was heavily revised in 2014 Citroen engineers retained plenty of that earlier car.
Whether you opt for the three- or five-door - or even the retractable roof version - it’s a curvy bubble-shaped car with wheels right at the corners and little overhang front or back.
The cute looks have been revised numerous times, with the front end taking most changes. Some prefer the more modern designs, some like the quirkier old look — most agree that C1 interior designs have definitely improved since 2005.
It’s a curvy bubble-shaped car with wheels right at the corners and little overhang front or back.
What’s it like to drive?
The baby Citroen is designed for city driving, so it’s agile and nippy in those conditions. It’s easy to steer and park, with light, responsive controls and a soft ride over city potholes. Either of the petrol engines are brisk enough for zipping around urban jams. The older 1.0-litre engine is a bit stressed by motorway exertions. The newer 1.2-litre has more power.
There are not a lot of different versions to consider - just a couple of engine sizes and the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. Look out for the optional stop-start system on some cars, it’s a handy fuel saver in jams.
The baby Citroen is designed for city driving, so it’s agile and nippy in those conditions
The Citroen C1’s notable affordability comes with a stylish, quality interior. Use of some cheap plastics is offset by bright panels, creating a funky ambience.
The front seats are blessed with head and leg-room that belies the tiny exterior dimensions. The driving position is adjustable and rather light, airy and pleasant. The back seats offer less space and are best suited to smaller adults and children. The ‘Airscape’ retractable fabric roof is a very cool option, though it does further reduce headspace in the back when closed.
Most models include hill-start assist system and built-in USB socket. Higher end models offer an impressive seven-inch touchscreen system. It’s pretty decent at this price range and incorporates DAB and Bluetooth. Air-conditioning, alloy wheels and steering-wheel mounted audio controls are also available.
The C1’s boot will hold a week’s supermarket shopping - and not a lot more. The 2014 redesign incorporated a bit more space than earlier versions.
In the 3-door model you have to lower the front seats to get in the back, of course. While this is easy enough to do, it’s still a bit of a twist to get in the back. Older or less mobile adults might not appreciate the contortions required.
The C1 was one of the first to offer lots of customisation options, so don’t be put off by different coloured panels and oddly patterned interiors — these are probably factory-fitted to add a bit more character. For some drivers, having a retractable full-length canvas roof is a deal-clincher. It’s certainly a treat on a sunny day.
Running costs and reliability
What we love
The C1 is affordable, likeable and reliable. It has a cheeky personality and is easy to drive and own. It’s compact with roomy enough front seats. The boot is just big enough and versions with the full-length fabric roof are great fun. Bills for fuel and maintenance will be minimal. It’s an ideal car for buzzing around a city.
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Cheap to buy and cheap to run, the C1 is one of the longest-lasting city cars for a reason: the package is just right for anyone who has to negotiate city streets and jams. It perfectly suits those who will enjoy the character and style and are not hung up on having the latest in automotive technology.
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