What is it?
Citroen has sold more than 600,000 examples of the city car it co-developed with Peugeot and Toyota, and shows no signs of letting the model fade just yet. Indeed, it’s now on its second facelift, grafting on a new front bumper whose vertical daytime running LEDs intentionally give more than a passing nod to the Citroen DS3. It was a facelift in the truest sense of the word though, for otherwise, it was business as usual. This means a tidy package of three- and fi ve-door cars, with a throbby 1.0-litre petrol engine and generally happy nature that proves budget motoring need not be a drag.
The C1 is a great city car, thanks to light steering, a fantastic gearchange, compact dimensions and a pleasingly torquey engine. Upgraded in 2012 to make it even more economical, the engine is as free-revving as ever, but the key point is that you don’t need to rev it in order to make decent progress. What’s more, taut body control provides handling much sportier than you’d expect, although this is a little to the detriment of ride quality: the C1 can be a little frenetic over scarred city roads. At least it’s better than it was, for Citroen retuned the dampers in 2012, while also adjusting the electric power steering settings to give more feel and feedback.
Sensibly, Citroen has long since ditched the rattly old diesel option, as its economy gains gave little extra over the much cheaper petrol car. Shame it hasn't done the same for the Efficient Tronic Gearbox. This automated manual does give the C1 two-pedal convenience, but once you've tried the jerky, dimwitted ETG in action, you'll prefer to stick with the manual.
On the inside
The latest C1 is better equipped than it was, with Citroen offering its neat Connecting Box Bluetooth and USB setup on some models. Seat trims have been upgraded too but it otherwise stays as before: slightly plasticky but with inbuilt substance and quality that shows off its Toyota roots. It’s more spacious than you’d expect, with decent room for adults in the back. They may find the stark exposed metal on the doors a bit much though, and it’s best to advise they don’t bring luggage: the awkward-access boot is ridiculously small, even for a city car.
Economy tweaks have seen the 68bhp 1.0-litre engine dip below the 100g/km CO2 benchmark, meaning the latest C1 averages a better-than-ever 65.7mpg. That's almost diesel-like, but without the diesel pump price. Prices are creeping up though, with most of the range now breaking the £10,000 barrier. Replacement time is imminent, too...