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Citroen C1 1.4 HDi Rhythm

Diesel engine has impressed in other Citroens in past economy tests. So how does it perform in the baby C1?

  • Biodiesel capability impresses, best overall economy here at 60.5mpg.
  • Lacking in interior comfort, nothing too impressive about town-centre performance, vague pedals and sloppy gearchange.

There are no gimmicks or gadgets where the C1 is concerned. If you’re trying to work out what it is that makes the little Citroen so incredibly fuel efficient, look no further than the fact it is small, light and has a compact 1.4-litre diesel that generates only 54bhp.

As with the MINI, the Citroen is designed to be a normal everyday car, and so saving fuel isn’t its main focus. That much is obvious from the fact it doesn’t come with stop-start technology – something that is available on certain models in both the C2 and C3 ranges.

However, as is the case with all diesel models in the PSA Peugeot Citroen line-ups, the four-cylinder unit is designed to run on 30 per cent biodiesel – although getting hold of the eco-friendly fuel in the UK is another matter entirely.

As using biodiesel has no effect on the car’s economy, we stuck to conventional diesel for the purposes of our test. On town centre roads, the C1 struggled to make a good impression. Its urban reading failed to match that of either the Toyota or MINI – not a big surprise considering that these models have the advantage of stop-start systems.

But we were expecting the 890kg C1 to get the better of the Volkswagen, Fiat and Renault. However, after only 18 miles it had consumed just over two litres of diesel, giving a reading of 39.3mpg.

This is a long way short of the 53.3mpg official figure claimed by Citroen, but we believe our rush hour crawl is more relevant to most people’s daily driving experiences than the official tests conducted in a laboratory.

Vague pedals and a sloppy gearchange were partly to blame for the poor urban performance. They make the Citroen rather difficult to drive smoothly and progressively.

Still, on our extra urban route, the C1 really came into its own. Aided by its light kerbweight, long gearing and low-rolling-resistance Michelin Energy tyres, it returned 68mpg exactly – a figure that no rival could match. The Citroen breezed up hills and managed to maintain momentum even better than the Panda.

One word of warning, though. While the narrow 155/65 R14 rubber the French company fits as standard helps to save fuel, we found it short on grip in the wet and were far from impressed by its braking performance. On the motorway, the C1 is not the most comfortable or refined car, but it more than made up for this by achieving a credible 62.0mpg. Add that to the other figures we recorded, and it gives an overall return of 60.5mpg – and no opponent could quite live up to that.

Details

Price: £8,825
Model tested: Citroen C1 1.4 HDi Rhythm
Chart position: 1
WHY: The Citroen is the smallest car here, and the 1.4-litre HDi has impressed in past economy tests.

Economy

Urban: 39.3mpg Cross-country: 68.0mpg Motorway: 62.0mpg Combined: 60.5mpg

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