UK Drive: The Citroen C1 Is A Perfectly Decent And Charming City Car

If you’re thinking the Citroen C1 looks an awful lot like the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, you’d be right – they’re basically the same car. But with slightly different specifications and styling, they’re aimed at different people. The name of the game for the C1 is young and funky, and it does a pretty good job at delivering.

We’re testing it here in mid-spec Feel trim, paired with the full-length fabric sunroof – named ‘Airscape’ by Citroen.

What’s new?


The C1’s been available since 2014 and hasn’t changed much. Indeed, the only edit we’ve noticed is the addition of an up-to-date touchscreen infotainment system on the inside – replacing the dated unit previously available. This new box offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a much easier-to-use interface.

Otherwise, the C1 is business as usual, taking the Toyota Aygo and replacing its rather angry, angular face with a more ‘cute’ rounded Citroen item.

What’s under the bonnet?



While there used to be a more powerful 1.2-litre engine available, Citroen now only offers the C1 with a single 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol. It produces 71bhp at a screaming 6,000rpm and will crawl to 60mph in 14.4 seconds.

Is that a problem? For most users, not really. Those who do lots of motorway miles aren’t likely to be shopping for a city car, after all, and it’s a perky unit at low speed. Combined with the crisp five-speed manual – avoid the automatic like the plague – it’s possible to have some fun in the C1, provided you don’t attempt to stray over 30mph. Economy is also stellar – we averaged well over 60mpg without even trying.

What’s it like to drive?


The C1 is no hot hatchback but it’s surprisingly good fun to chuck around on a twisting road. A combination of quick steering, lots of grip and absolutely no weight means you won’t easily overwhelm the tiny tyres – there’s simply not enough power to do so.


We’re also big fans of the fabric sunroof on our Airscape model – after all, a bit of fresh air makes any drive more exhilarating. It doesn’t appear to harm structural rigidity, either.

However, it’s not as mature as rivals and this may be a sticking point for some buyers. A Skoda Citigo, for example, rides better, is quieter and feels pleasingly weighty in a way the C1 can’t quite manage.

How does it look?


Our test car was painted in a really pleasant minty green shade – happily, a no-cost option, though one somewhat spoiled by the cheap-looking plastic wheel trims. The C1’s stubby proportions are cute rather than sleek, but it’s a shape that wears Citroen’s ‘upside-down’ family face well – consisting of slim indicator and sidelight strips atop projector-style halogen headlights. Round the back, there’s an all-glass tailgate, which looks pretty slick.

The interior is less eye-catching – a symphony of black plastic, in shiny and matte forms.

What’s it like inside?

Sliiiight headroom issue in the back of the Citroen C1 Airscape.

— Tom Wiltshire (@mctreckmeister) September 14, 2018

It’s in here where the C1 loses ground to models such as the Skoda Citigo or Suzuki Celerio. Sure, it’s smaller overall, but that makes it really unsuitable as a four-seater for all but the shortest of journeys. Rivals can at least accommodate four adults, where the C1 struggles.

The boot is nothing to write home about either, as it’s slim, deep and covered by a flimsy fabric parcel shelf.

It feels quite durable in here, but there’s little flair to the design or materials. Everything is hardworking black plastic, unlike rivals such as the Renault Twingo which inject a little pizzazz into proceedings.

What’s the spec like?


Entry-level Touch trim is only available on three-door cars, with five-door models getting a choice of Feel or Flair trims. The basic cars include front electric windows, a two-speaker stereo, LED daytime running lights and remote locking – and not much else. Step up to Feel and you’ll get larger steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and air-conditioning plus a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display.

Top-spec Flair adds alloy wheels, chrome trim, electric mirrors, a rev-counter, a reversing camera and tinted rear windows. Airscape models come with a massive fabric sunroof, and can be had in otherwise-unchanged Feel and Flair trims.


The C1 is a good city car but there’s no denying it lacks the breadth of ability outside of town that some rivals achieve with aplomb. This would be forgivable were it supremely cheap, but the C1’s priced in line with more talented opposition such as the Kia Picanto or Skoda Citigo. Still, it’s cheerful, fun to drive and rather cute to look at – and for some that will be all they want.

  • Model as tested: Citroen C1 Feel Airscape
  • Price: £12,670
  • Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
  • Power: 71bhp
  • Torque: 94Nm
  • Max speed: 98mph
  • 0-60mph: 14.4s
  • Economy: 68.9mpg
  • Emissions: 95g/km
  • Rivals: Toyota Aygo, Skoda Citigo, Suzuki Celerio

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