From £7,9857
More power and new style improves the Citroen C1's performance and appeal, but it's still not in the VW Up's class

Our Verdict

Citroen C1

More power and new style improves the Citroen C1's performance and appeal, but it's still not in the VW Up's class

Steve Cropley Autocar
19 June 2014

What is it?

Like its partners Peugeot and Toyota, Citroen has been making hay for nine years with the C1 city car it manufactures in a co-operative factory in the Czech Republic, selling 760,000 cars since 2005. 

There have been several facelifts but now it’s time for an all-new body style to go with a set of updated mechanicals: the familiar 1.0-litre 67bhp Toyota-sourced triple is being joined in showrooms by a normally aspirated, 81bhp version of PSA’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, which freshens the offer and gives the car a welcome turn of performance.

There are three and five-door versions of the new-style model, as before, but Citroen this time adds a fabric-topped variant called Airscape whose full-length canopy rolls back at the touch of a switch. Top-end models have niceties like a seven-inch touch screen that allows control of most non-driving functions, plus climate control air conditioning. There are three newly named trim levels, Touch, Feel and Flair in order of rising luxury. Prices start at £8245 for the 1.0-litre three-door Touch, and rise to £12,000. An extra-value launch model called the C1 Airscape Feel hits showrooms at the beginning of next month, priced at £10,945.

What's it like?

The C1’s chassis is closely related to outgoing cars, but there are important suspension changes such as a twist-beam rear axle assembly, now 4kg lighter than the previous car's. Springs and dampers are re-rated, and there’s a bigger diameter anti-roll bar.

The C1 also gets hill-hold assist and new, low rolling resistance tyres on either 14 or 15-inch wheels. It continues to have excellent fuel consumption: the smaller engine is good for 74.3mpg combined, with a CO2 output of just 88g/km and the newer, bigger engine delivers 65.7mpg combined, while emitting 99g/km. 

The C1’s compactness makes it agile on the road, with the same bias in corners towards stabilising understeer as the outgoing model. The more powerful, more torquey engine is very flexible and has a new turn of speed, the effects of the suspension revisions are easily detected and the car maintains its poise pretty well on lumpy roads, and pitches less than the outgoing car. It's a very safe if slightly stodgy handler, whose body rolls more than rivals in corners. 

Noise control isn't the C1’s greatest strength. The Airscape roof allows much racket in, and the car isn't very good at coping with noisy surfaces either. And while we're at it, the powertrain lacks refinement at low speed, vibrating while it waits at lights (the stop/start system in our test car was erratic in operation) and suffering from low-speed shunt plus faint but annoying flat-spots in its power delivery right through the range. A VW Up or Hyundai i10 does it better.

The new body shape is on the fussy side of okay, but the C1's new interior, both fascia and seating, looks cluttered and overdone. Equipment is okay, but the hard plastics are a turn-off.

Should I buy one?

The C1 has been usefully updated and shows a decent turn of performance, with economy, but it is surprisingly unrefined against the competition. Luckily it is likely to continue the equipment/price advantage it has held in the class for years. But you certainly shouldn’t go shopping for any other A-segment car until you’ve surveyed the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up. They’re the class of the field.

Citroen C1 Airscape Feel 82 VTi

Price £10,945 0-62mph 11.0sec Top speed 106mph Economy 65.7mpg CO2 99g/km Kerb weight 855kg Engine In-line 3cyl petrol, transverse Power 81bhp at 5750rpm Torque 86lb ft at 2750rpm Gearbox Five-speed manual

 

Join the debate

Comments
16

19 June 2014
I wonder why the Aygo only gets the 1.0 litre engine, it would be a lot better with the 1.2 as well.

19 June 2014
"The new body shape is on the fussy side of okay, but the C1's new interior, both fascia and seating, looks cluttered and overdone. "

I would go further and suggest those people, responsible for the styling, are in the wrong jobs, or are they aiming it at those people who might have bought the Ami in the Seventies?

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

19 June 2014
... for a car in this segment.

19 June 2014
My preferred of the trio, but it would still be the new twingo for me

19 June 2014
I wonder when one of the city car makers will add a turbo, give us 120bhp, and a fun small car. The 1.2 sounds an improvement on the 1.0 but it could still do with more power, and a turbo would be ideal in something so light.

20 June 2014
with 1.0TSI 110-120 bhp

19 June 2014
when they will add an EGC gearbox to a higher output engine

jt

20 June 2014
... while PSA uses a different set.

20 June 2014
So the better car out of a choice between Citroen and Hyundai is the Hyundai - and the Hyundai has been out longer. The Citroen as the newer car should be better. Not a good sign for the future of Citroen which used to be the manufacturer that set standards, not failed to meet them.
And that face! Do they have a cartoonist in the design department?

20 June 2014
concinnity wrote:

So the better car out of a choice between Citroen and Hyundai is the Hyundai - and the Hyundai has been out longer. The Citroen as the newer car should be better. Not a good sign for the future of Citroen which used to be the manufacturer that set standards, not failed to meet them.
And that face! Do they have a cartoonist in the design department?

Hang on, all hope is not lost, have you seen the C4 Cactus? I think that showcases rather a lot more innovation. This is a shared partnership with Toyota so I think it's unfair to single out Citroen; they've collaborated on this and they should've brought the interior more up to the Up's standards (though let's be honest, even an Up in basic spec isn't exactly the Ritz). I don't think the C1 is meant to be in any way whatsoever a sign for Citroen's future. It has always sold well for the brand (even now) and was part of the original trio that set a benchmark for city cars long before the Up triplets came along and improved on the formula.


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