The Citroën C1 is the cheapest of the C1-107-Aygo triplets. The city car is cute, but noisy and basic

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Other car makers may be making much of their small, cheap, fuel-efficient models, but the Citroën C1 has been treading this path since 2005, alongside its sister models, the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107.

Facelifted for the second time, the little Citroën is still fundamentally the same as ever, but with a slightly updated look. It has a new front end and a shorter bonnet in an effort to reduce repair costs and improve pedestrian impact protection. The front bumper has been entirely redesigned to house fog lights and LED daytime running lights, the style of which is borrowed from Citroën’s DS3.

The EGS gearbox is an automated manual, and wont suit all tastes

Little has changed in the cabin, though, with the car retaining the simple-but-chunky look and some of the easiest-to-use controls available on any new car. The C1 is offered as a three- or five-door car, across three trim levels, but only the range-topping VTR+ features air-conditioning and alloy wheels as standard.

All versions share the same 998cc engine producing 68bhp, with 70lb ft of torque at 3600rpm. With a five-speed manual gearbox, the C1 will accelerate to 62mph in 13.7sec with the five-speed EGS auto taking two-tenths of a second less. Top speed for all models is 98mph.

Emissions are down to 99g/km for the manual, making the C1 the first petrol-powered Citroën to fall under the 100g/km marker. As such, it’s exempt from the London congestion charge. The 104g/km EGS model isn’t, however.

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The engine makes a pleasing noise, and it’s nippy enough to be a perfect foil for the urban crawl. The ride is quite hard, and wind and road noise becomes intrusive at higher speeds.

Inside, however, little has changed, and the cabin still holds its original appeal. It’s small, yes, but a big glass area and great all-round visibility make it feel more spacious and roomy than it really is. You still get the intriguing backlit translucent panel for the heating/ventilation, too.

Boot space is a limited at just 139 litres (expanding to 751 with the seats folded), but at just 3430mm long and 1630mm wide overall, there’s only so much you can expect cram into a car with such a compact footprint.

As funky and fun as the C1 is, compared to models such as the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto, it is beginning to look a little expensive – even the entry-level Volkswagen Up! costs £700 less than the equivalent C1.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Citroen C1 2005-2014 First drives