Citroen C1 Hatchback (2014 - ) review
The Citroen C1 is a small and distinctive city car, which rivals cars like the Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.0
The C1 is a funky-looking city car that's easy to drive and has lots of personlisation options that give it plenty of character. However, it suffers from a disappointing engine and isn't as well put-together, or as good on the road as some of its rivals.
- Funky looks
- Lots of personalisation options
- Easy to drive and manoeuvre around town
- Noisy engine
- Not as refined or classy as some rivals
- Airscape model not a full convertible
Interested in buying a Citroen C1?
How good does it look?
When it’s trying to attract buyers, the most important weapon in the C1’s arsenal is its styling. Not only is it very distinct from its sister cars (the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 are essentially the same car underneath), it also offers tremendous scope for personalisation. You can choose from a five-door or three-door model, or the five-door Airscape, which features a full length, retractable fabric roof but doesn’t open you up to the elements as much as Smart’s ForTwo Cabrio.
Three-door models come in a choice of three trim levels. Touch is the most basic and rides on 14-inch steel wheels, while the Feel model upgrades that to 15-inch wheels. Go for the Flair model and you’ll get 15-inch alloy wheels, as well as electrically adjustable side mirrors (finished in chrome for extra pizzazz) and a reversing camera.
Opt for the five-door model and you can still choose the Feel and Flair models, but there’s also the female-aimed Elle model, conceived in collaboration with the magazine of the same name. It features some Elle badges and a pink graphic on the back. It also rides on 15-inch alloy wheels. The Urban Ride model has black alloy wheels and some extra graphics on the outside.
Last, but not least, the Airscape model comes in Feel, Flair or Urban Ride form.
What's the interior like?
Inside, the design is similar fresh and funky, with plenty of colour on show, and the cabin offers more scope for personalisation. The centre console, air vent trim and gear lever base, for example, can be customised with bright colours. All apart from the most basic models come with a touch-screen on the top of the centre console, which includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink for smartphone integration. The cabin looks great, although the quality of materials on show doesn’t match what you’ll find in a Volkswagen Up and in our test car there was quite a bit of rattling on the move. On the other hand, we had no problem with the driving position, but that may not be the same for everyone, as the steering wheel adjusts only for height (not reach) and Touch models don’t have a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
How practical is it?
The space in the front belies the car’s budget price and small size, with good head and legroom. However, with a couple of tall people in the front seats, space is at more of a premium in the back: legroom is very tight, while headroom is restricted by the low roofline, especially on Airscape models. The boot, too, is smaller than you’ll find in either the Hyundai i10 or the VW Group trio (the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo are all essentially the same car) and, to make matters worse, it’s further spoiled by a high lip that makes loading and unloading awkward.
What's it like to drive?
The C1 isn’t particularly mechanically sophisticated – hence the attractive price – but it drives and rides reasonably well, with decent feel in the steering and a ride that’s just about comfortable enough on all but the worst surfaces. It’s very easy to nip around town in and acceptable on the motorway too, but it doesn’t feel as capable and impressive as the Up/Mii/Citigo.
How powerful is it?
There is only one engine choice in the C1, and it’s a petrol-powered 1.0-litre, 72-horsepower unit. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. It’s noisy and underpowered, power delivery is lumpy and if you have several people in the car, you’ll find yourself struggling to get up hills of any substance. Although Citroen used to have a more powerful 1.2-litre engine the C1, it’s no longer available. The C1 comes with a serviceable five-speed manual gearbox, and you can also opt for an automatic.
How much will it cost me?
The C1 is pretty similar on price when compared to its rivals like the Hyundai i10, Aygo and Citigo, but doesn’t have such strong resale value, which will likely make it slightly more expensive to run in the long-run. It’ll also likely to cost more to service, maintain and repair than the others. Still, fuel economy is pretty decent, which if you’re doing higher mileages will help offset the loss.
How reliable is it?
Citroen as a whole hasn’t had a great reputation for reliability of late, and the JD Power 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study put it fifth from bottom of all the major manufacturers when looking at the performance of all its cars. However, owner reviews don’t tend to have too many complaints about the C1’s reliability, which is encouraging. Should anything go wrong, Citroen offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, which is pretty standard for the industry, although Toyota offers a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the Aygo.
How safe is it?
The C1 has been around for a while now, and while it scored four out of five in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP, the standards used in those tests have moved on in more recent years, so compared to newer rivals it’s lagging behind. There’s no automatic emergency braking as standard (although it is available as an option) and there’s also a lack of similar active safety systems that are now commonplace on more modern cars, but it does have six airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear.
How much equipment do I get?
The entry-level Touch model is pretty sparsely outfitted, with a sound system that will play MP3s but not much else. The Feel gets you the 7.0-inch infotainment screen and air conditioning and rear seats that split 50/50 to fold down while the Flair adds a reversing camera, electric mirrors and a speed limiter to help you avoid creeping over the limit. The Elle features a leather steering wheel and some exclusive paint colours while the Urban Ride has the reversing camera. Options across the range include automatic parking and keyless entry and start, as well as automatic air conditioning.
In a packed city car market the C1 stands out with funky looks and plenty of customisation options, and it’s pretty cheap to buy. Its running costs are low and it’s easy to drive, which should win it plenty of fans.