THE diminutive Citroën C1 is one of a trio of new cars (the others are from Peugeot and Toyota) that come off the same production line at a jointly owned factory in Kolin, in the Czech Republic. Though the C1 shares parts with the Peugeot 108 and the Toyota Aygo, it has enough individuality to be a cracking little car.
In their first incarnations, these three machines were similarly styled and, to be honest, it was hard to tell one from the other.
This time, though, Toyota has gone its own way with the Aygo and its identifiable X-motif design, while the Peugeot also has enough personality to distinguish it from the other two. Ditto the C1.
The C1, however, is something of an exception in the Citroën design canon, primarily because the circumstances of its creation have not allowed the company let loose the full rein of its highly individualistic thought processes.
Thus,the C1 is a compromise for Citroën.
Despite Citroen not being allowed to unleash its full armoury of design surprises, the C1, exterior-wise at least, is still very much of that parish.
Indeed the front-end look borrows heavily from the DS3, and that’s no bad thing.
Citroën has also gone its own way with the pastel colour schemes and the interior upholstery choices, which mean that buyers can personalise their cars at will and this, of course, is very much in line with what so many other manufacturers are doing in the super-mini segment to try and woo customers — particularly in the ‘yoof’ market.
We tried the C1 in ‘Feel’ specification — where do they get these names? — so the car was fitted with the 50kW (67 bhp) one-litre, three-cylinder engine, which is as throaty and aurally enticing as any good three-pot engine should be.
Despite its diminutive capacity — 998cc — it will still propel the car from a standing start to 100kph in 13.7 seconds, and reach a top speed of 158kph, neither figure being earth-shattering, but perfectly acceptable in this segment.
It also emits only 95 g/km, and will return a very healthy consumption figure of 4.2 l/100 km, which is nearly 66mpg, for those of you who haven’t figured out metric yet.
Allied to a five-speed gearbox that is a tad notchy, this engine is a joy and seems to have bottomless amounts of willingness.
I didn’t like that there was no rev. counter in the otherwise excellent dashboard layout, which features a large, single dial for the speedo, with other functions contained within. I’m one of those people for whom a rev. counter is nearly more important than a speedo and I really missed it.
But the engine was full of beans and suited to normal urban requirements, while also being happy at higher, motorway cruising speeds, and in a car this size you can’t ask for much more.
Given its ‘wheel-at-each-corner’ demeanour, the C1 is also a grippy handler and is comfortable on any surface or road type, and if the ride is a little less than smooth, then that is only a further benefit to those who like a ‘press-on’ driving style.
It is a small car and while there is plenty of space in the front, there is a surprising amount of it in the back and it is possible to get two adults in without undue stress for them, although they may not like the windows, which open out rather than up and down.
The large glass area makes for an airy cabin and excellent all-round visibility — a combination that probably fools you into thinking the C1 is bigger than it is.
The boot is tiny — a maximum of four shopping bags will fit — but the rear seats fold to create extra space.
But what you see is what you get and no different from anything else in this class; which means this will only ever be a second or third family car, or a starter car for young drivers and, as such, is perfectly fit for purpose.
But there is a genuine joie de vivre about the C1, because, despite the constrictions of the design — it being one-third of the manufacturing process — it still has plenty of Citroen’s design DNA.
Many other manufacturers have leapt onto the ‘city car’, super-mini market segment with considerable success in recent times, but Citroen has been at this game for quite a while now, and remains quite good at it.
I really liked the C1. It is full of character.
It’s a fun and funky little car and will bring a smile to your face every time you sit in.
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