Ever since 2005, the Citroen C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo have completely changed the way we look at small city cars. It’s fair to say they have been unrivaled, but for each other. With the new ones due later this year- and each will have a completely different identity this time around- I decided to give Citroens current offering a test. As you would expect for a car launched in 2005, it’s been tarted up somewhat and the ‘Platinum’ model that landed at my doorstep was the most kitted out model yet. So just what do you get in this little car? And what’s the appeal? Well I decided I should find out…
Looks – 7/10
The Citroen C1 is a rather nice looking car. It has a nice cheeky look, and is as nice as a 5-door as it is a 3-door car. With the most recent facelift there is a new front bumper which incorporates some nice daytime running lights. As well as this the Platinum gets a metallic Carlinite grey roof, mirrors and rear spoiler. There’s privacy glass too- which is a rather nice touch- and 14-inch alloy wheels complete the exterior package. I like the daytime running lights, alloy wheels and privacy glass, but don’t really see the need for the spoiler or contrasting paint. It’s all a bit ‘pimp my ride’ and that’s not what the C1 is about.
On the inside, there’s some piano black trim, which offered a nice contrast to the interior door panels which come in the same colour as the exterior; in my case Lipizzan White. Being a top-of-the-range model you get a leather gear knob and steering wheel, which do actually go a long way to giving the cabin a more premium feel. The optional half leather and alcantara seats look great, but will add a further £500 to the price tag. As you would expect there aren’t a whole host of exotic materials featured throughout, and the quality matches the level of car, but the stereo looks nice, as does the rev counter ‘pod’ attached to the speedo. The heater controls are the most disappointing aspect of the cabin; they look cheap and are a bit flimsy to the touch.
Handling/Performance – 6/10
There isn’t much in the way of handling either. The C1 is comfortable, but show it a country road and you may find yourself having a giggle. For a car with such a small footprint, the Citroen is taller than average, meaning it has a tendency to lean in the corners. The tyres are about as wide as a matchbox as well, which means there’s never a lot of grip on offer either. The steering was actually quite direct, but it lacked any sort of feel. The C1 is a city car, and around town it zips around happily. On the big open roads it suffers, but then again this isn’t a car for the rep doing miles upon miles around the country.
Economy – 9/10
One advantage of the 1.0-litre engine is that it sips petrol rather slowly. On a combined cycle, you can expect a return of 65.7mpg which is another reason the C1 is a great little city car. And even better than the fuel consumption is the CO2 emissions figure of 99g/km. That puts the C1 in VED band A; the best one to be in. Road tax is completely free in the first and subsequent years, which is a good aid to lowering running costs. The only reason I couldn’t score the C1 a 10 here, is because it is rather hard to achieve that sort of return on fuel. Owing to the cars noticeable lack of power you end up driving harder than you usually would to try and make up some speed, and this is detrimental to the fuel economy.
Practicality – 8/10
My C1 was a 5-door model, which is much more practical than the 3-door in terms of gaining access to the back seats. And this isn’t at the expense of looks either; I think the 5-door is the nicer looking car as well. The problem with the cabin in the C1 is that it only seats 4 people, which is a shame because I can’t help but think you could seat three kids in the back. That may put some people off, but then again at least the 4 seats can all seat adults which is a bonus. The boot isn’t the largest either, but it is enough to fit a few bags of shopping in. The C1 is rather easy to live with as well. It has the turning circle of a remote control car, can be parked in any space the size of an A4 piece of paper and is very easy to see out of. It won’t cost you the earth to run so in the long term you could happily get by with a C1 on the driveway.
Fun – 7/10
For its little engine that needs to be driven at full throttle to get anywhere, and the skinny tyres which mean you’re on the edge of grip at any given moment, there is a bit of fun to be had in the Citroen C1. You can even plug your iPod in to get some of your favourite tunes – although this is only through the auxiliary input so no control is available. However, I couldn’t help but notice that some people looked at the C1 Platinum, and clearly thought I was a berk. Admittedly this could have had absolutely nothing at all to do with the car I was in, but I’ve a sneaky suspicion it was down to the C1. It’s a very confused car, and people may have even thought I’d fitted the spoiler and had things painted grey myself – which would explain the looks. I think the Platinum model tries too hard, and suffers as a result.
I really like the C1 and everything it offers as a city car. The economy and agility alone make it an impressive package, and coupled to a starting price-tag of £8,095 mean it bodes well on the bank account too. The problem I have is that my test car cost £11,740. I struggle to justify the extra £3,600 because it has the same engine and mostly the same equipment. If I were looking to buy one now, I’d just stick to the basic model which will do everything you need it to. No frills, but then this is a cheap run-around, and they don’t come much cheaper. So if you’re in the market for a city car, then why not take a look at the C1. You might even like the Platinum and that’s fair enough. Or take a look at the new C1 which is coming later in the year. For more information pop into your local dealer or visit the Citroen website. The Citroen C1 Platinum then; proving that adding spoilers and two tone paint jobs doesn’t make cars better. All you boy racers- take note.
Total Score - 37/50