Citroen C1 hatchback
Price £8,345 - £12,415
- Low running costs
- Full-length fabric roof
- Decent standard equipment
- Not as spacious as rivals
- Rear windows don’t wind down
- Smaller engine struggles on the motorway
At a glance
"The Citroen C1 has fresh styling and frugal engines, but cramped rear seats and a poor-quality interior mean it’s not a class leader."
The Citroen C1 is a city car that trades on its compact dimensions, low price and even lower running costs to attract buyers – many of them young and/or first-time drivers on a budget. It's one of three related cars, the others being the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108, which compete with rivals such as the SEAT Mii, VW up! and Skoda Citigo. Another competitor is the Hyundai i10. It's therefore a fiercely fought class featuring some smart and capable cars, so the C1 has to be very good to shine.
It's powered by a choice of petrol engines (there's no diesel): a 1.0-litre or a 1.2-litre. We prefer the latter: its extra power means it's nippier in town, while on the open road it can bowl along well enough and overtake smartly when the coast is clear. It cruises reasonably well on the motorway, too, although the Citigo, up! and i10 are smoother and quieter. All this and it's not much thirstier than the smaller 1.0-litre engine, either.
The C1 comes in a choice of three or five-door body styles. The five-door is a lot more practical and makes better use of what limited space there is inside. Squeezing past the front seat to get in the back of a three-door is never fun, especially in a car as small as the C1. Probably the most a C1's boot will carry is the weekly shop or a couple of small suitcases. However, it's quite small, and certainly smaller than the boots in the i10 and Citigo. For this reason, if there's a toddler in the family, you should check if their pushchair will fit.
The C1's low price comes at the expense of quality and refinement. The car is comfortable enough around town, but noisy at higher speeds. The interior quality is also a rung or two lower than rivals such as the up! and Citigo. However, it's possible to lift the C1's humble looks with a range of reasonably priced options, including chrome detailing and assorted styling packages. You can order your C1 in Airscape trim with a folding fabric roof, too.
Fortunately, not everything is extra. There are three trim levels, but even the basic Touch model has an MP3 stereo, remote central locking, front electric windows and smart LED daytime running lights.
The previous C1 wasn’t the most reliable car, but this all-new model has clearly been improved in key areas. It's certainly safer than before, with more kit, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and hill-start assistance, now fitted as standard.
Fuel costs are low, but insurance premiums are higher than main rivals
Citroen C1 is a competent performer, but falls short of the standards set by the Hyundai i10
The Citroen C1 doesn’t feel as well built as the Hyundai i10 or the Skoda Citigo
The Citroen C1 has cramped rear seats and below-par boot capacity for this class
It’s too soon to say how reliable the new Citroen C1 will be, but safety is comparable to the best in class