On Test: Citroen C1 1.2 VTi

Watch the video review here

The original Citroen C1 was one part of C1, Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo triumvirate that went on sale in 2005.

Toyota did the engineering, PSA Peugeot-Citroen brought its supply-chain expertise, and all three were built in a brand-new factory in the Czech Republic.

The new generation C1, 108 and Aygo pick up where their hugely successful predecessors left off.

Design

The previous C1’s styling only differed from its siblings at the front, with its own nose. The new car is much more distinct; though general dimensions of each panel is shared, the detailing is unique.

Likewise the interior’s basic architecture is shared, but the C1 has its own look. Am attractive touchscreen control system dominates the dashboard, while there are many jazzy trim and colour options.

Performance

The base engine is a 68bhp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol carried over from the old car. It’s perfectly adequate, but you really want the 1.2-litre from PSA’s new PureTech family, which produces a much more useful 82bhp. With just 860kg to haul along, acceleration is sufficiently sprightly to squirt into gaps in city traffic.

Though the 1.0-litre engine is cleaner and more economical, the 1.2 still sips fuel and with Co2 emissions of 99g/km, the tax disc is free.

Ride & Handling

The new C1 uses an updated, rather than new, chassis. But that’s no bad thing, as the old car was an amusingly chuckable thing. The steering is rather light, which is great for parking, but there’s little feel. The soft suspension is quite comfortable, but the ride can get bouncy and body control is lacking.

That should add up to a car that’s a bit of a disaster in bends, but the skinny tyres cling on well and cornering on the door handles at 35mph is always a laugh. It’s fun in the same way a 2CV is.

Refinement

For what it is, the C1 is acceptably quiet and comfortable. Same goes for some the interior plastics, which are a bit scratchy, but that’s OK in a car this cheap. But then, Volkswagen showed with the up! that you make a car this size as refined as something from a segment or two above. The C1’s optional roll-back fabric sunroof doesn’t help matters.

Space & Practicality

There is a bit more space in the C1 for rear seat passengers and luggage, but not much. Even in the five-door, anyone approaching six-foot will feel cramped in the back, and the boot will only just about take a week’s worth of shopping. The rear seats do fold down, but the boot opening is quite high – the rear window acts as the tailgate.

Equipment

The C1 is a cheap, simple car so there isn’t a whole lot of kit, but you do get power steering, electric windows, a stereo and that Android-aping screen that interfaces with your phone. The only real indulgence is a reversing camera, which makes parking an absolute doddle.

The Rivals

Among its siblings, the C1 is the sensible one, the 108 is the upmarket one and the Aygo is the fun one. The Volkswagen up! and Hyundai i10 are more rounded packages, but perhaps take themselves a bit too seriously.

In Conclusion

‘Cheap and cheerful’ is often a derogatory saying, but not so here. The C1 might not be as good a car as the VW or Hyundai, but it’s an appealing thing none the less. Add in Citroen’s typically generous finance deals that helped make the last car so popular, and the new C1 will find plenty of willing buyers.

Citroen C1 1.2 VTi Flair 5-door

Price: £11,430

Engine: 1.2-litre 3-cyl petrol

Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Power/Torque: 82bhp; 86lb/ft

Economy/Emissions: 65.7mpg; 99g/km

0-62mph: 10.6 secs

Top speed: 106mph

What do you think?

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