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The Top Gear car review: Citroen C1

£8,290£12,360
6/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Quirky front end styling, sunroof option, affordable to buy and run

Against: 

1.2-litre doesn't offer much over 1.0
Similar to the old one underneath, but with a happier character and even lower running costs.

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Our choice

Citroen

1.0 VTi Feel 5dr

£10,940
N/A
69mpg
14.30s
68bhp
95g/km

What we say: 

All-new Citroen C1 is a bit me-too but there's a cheery and able city car underneath

What is it?

Doing something different is how Citroen has made its name of late – just look at the DS3 or the new C4 Cactus. Trend setters, both of them. But despite the unusual front light ‘eyebrows’ (anyone else find themselves thinking Hello Kitty?), we’re not sure the same can be said of the C1 as, underneath, this is a regular city car, based on the same underpinnings as the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108. 

As a result Citroen hasn’t been able to be that creative, but has given it a good go, and embed up with a cutesy look and light, airy feel. It can be had with a pair of triple cylinder engines of either 1.0 or 1.2 displacement and three trim levels, choice of three or five doors and a large £850 fabric sunroof that Citroen calls Airscape.  

Driving

The last C1 was only available with the Toyota-sourced 1.0-litre engine. Now PSA has doubled the choice by offering it’s own 1.2. We wouldn’t bother. The 1.2 does a reasonable job, but the engine is pretty ordinary and the five speed manual gearbox it’s mated to is rather rubbery and unsatisfying to use. The 1.0-litre is that little bit peppier and as a result is more suited to a small, light urban car. 

Not that the C1 can’t cope with life further afield. In fact due to the much improved noise insulation and altered rear suspension, the C1 is now a more placid car to pootle around in. It’s even OK if you choose to pitch it hard into a corner. It doesn’t have quite the eagerness and determination of a Fiat Panda, but it’s not bad. One last thing. You can option that cool-looking Airscape canvas sunroof, but bear in mind it does cause wind pulse above 30mph. 

On the inside

Be careful how your spec your small Citroen. Such are the graphic choices – inside as well as out – that you could end up with a complete dog’s dinner of a thing.Resist the temptation – and remember, even if options prices appear cheap, they’re still a rather high proportion of the low list price. You’ll ever get it back…  

It’s best to go steady, choose wisely, realise it’s still a small, cheap little car, oh, and prepare to compromise on luggage and passengers. It’s no tardis inside, although the overall ambience is quite cheery. Simple car, simple appeal – best keep it simple, then.

Owning

Since it only weighs 850kg or thereabouts and the engines can be had with stop/start, the C1 is a very cost-effective little car – probably more so than the Fiat Panda in fact. It officially averages nearly 75mpg and sub-90g/km CO2 makes the lack of a diesel option a non-issue. Just not quite a cheekily cool as the Italian car, though; in this sector, for many buyers, that matters.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.2 PureTech Feel 3dr
11.0s 99g/km 65.7 82 £9,890
The cheapest
1.0 VTi Touch 3dr
14.3s 95g/km 68.9 68 £8,290
The greenest
1.0 VTi Flair 3dr Start/Stop
14.3s 88g/km 74.3 68 £10,480

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Citroen C4 Cactus

£12,935£18,035
The well-priced Citroen C4 Cactus is similarly airy and lighthearted, but bigger, with funkier design and layout