Cracking the city car market is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the motoring world. To be a success any newcomer has to be stylish, fun to drive, cheap to run and spacious enough to carry a car full of adults. We were impressed with the new Citroen C1 in France, but how does it fare in the UK?
As you might be aware, the C1 shares all of its mechanical running gear and chunks of bodywork with Toyota’s quirky Aygo and Peugeot’s plush 108. So standing out from the crowd is of paramount importance.
It’s certainly the most eye-catching of the three with two-part headlights, a gaping grille, 3D-effect rear lamp clusters and vertical LED daytime running lights. Buyers wanting a touch of open-air motoring can go for this Airscape model with a peel-back roof that costs £200 more than the hard-top.
Things are more familiar inside, as the trio share an almost identical dash layout. The design is modern and clean, plus the fancy interior panelling matches the exterior body colour, so there’s no longer any unsightly exposed metal work. Elsewhere, interior space remains as it was from the previous C1, so head and kneeroom are a little tight, especially for those in the back.
But there’s plenty of kit on board, with air-con, electric mirrors and a seven-inch touchscreen that can mirror your smartphone’s functions, all fitted as standard to our Feel-spec model.
There have also been improvements under the skin. A new 81bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine is now on offer, as well as a cleaner, revamped version of the 67bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.
Our test model is fitted with the smaller-capacity motor, which claims 68.9mpg economy and emissions of 95g/km. It may appear underpowered at first glance, but the C1 is so light, at just 855kg, that you can extract reasonable performance at city speeds.
On faster, twisty B-roads the car feels a little out of its comfort zone and wind noise isn’t well contained. Updated springs and shock absorbers mean the Citroen rides a lot better than the previous model. If it were our money, though, a Hyundai i10 or Skoda Citigo still gets the nod ahead of this car.
If you do have your heart set on a C1, we’d opt for the more powerful 81bhp 1.2-litre engine. Economy is affected fractionally, but it’s a small price to pay for the welcome dose of performance.