Citroen C1 City Car first drive

Citroen C1





The new Citroen C1 City Car is the last of a trio of new same-size three and five door City Cars just launched in the UK. They are all related and built in the Czech Republic joint venture factory by the Toyota, PSA Peugeot Citroen partnership.


The Toyota Aygo arrived with the marketing strapline – ‘Go fun yourself!’, promoting the fun driving side of such a car, the Peugeot 108 arrived with the strapline ‘This time its personal’ promoting the many and varied personalisation options their range offers and now the Citroen C1 arrives with its ‘Naturally urban’ theme which is short and to the point.

Like the Peugeot 108 the Citroen C1 is available with three and five door hatchback body styles plus an opening canvas sunroof body style which Citroen call Airscape and Peugeot call Top! Toyota only offers the three and five door Aygo as conventional metal roof hatchbacks, no soft-top option from them as yet.

There are differences between the Toyoto and PSA brands in the engine offerings as well. The PSA versions give customers the choice of the fuel frugal but gruff and tardy 1.0-litre three cylinder 68hp Toyota sourced petrol engine or the PSA sourced new and zippy performance PureTech 1.2 three cylinder, 82hp petrol unit. Both are non-turbo units.

All three brands go big on personalisation and option packages where customers young and old can tailor their cars to meet their fashionable or functional needs. Each can be identified by the latest incarnation of their brand’s family face. The Aygo seems the most eye-catching with its sporty X-grille design whilst the 108 and C1 look bland by comparison. At the rear end are different treatments but all built around the traditional deep glass tailgate.

The new Citroen C1 is offered with the choice of three trim levels, Touch, Feel and Flair with the soft top Airflow available in Feel and Flair specification. Prices for the range start from £8,245 and rise to £11,935 – much the same as the Peugeot 108 and both a little cheaper than the Toyota Aygo. But specifications for each model over the three brands do vary so it’s not possible to make exact comparisons. For customers it will come down to the fact of which brand they prefer or which is their most local dealer or most likely which is offering the best real-life transaction price.

With over three quarters of retail car buyers using finance or PCP personal contract purchase schemes the cheapest C1 can be obtained with an £85 per month payment over three years following a £2,264 deposit with Citroen making a contribution of £250. So in fact the most affordable C1 actually costs £7,995 as does the Aygo which has a £600 launch offer on its cheapest version. Toyota and Peugeot also offer attractive PCP rates starting from £89 a month.

Citroen C1Citroen C1When it comes to UK sales numbers all three brand’s are ‘singing from more or less the same hymn sheet’. Citroen’s UK C1 product manager Anne-Lise Lefebvre said they expected to sell around 20,000 units in the UK in a full year, 80% of customers choosing the most fuel and tax friendly 1.0-litre petrol engine, 16% of customers are likely to select the Airscape soft top version, 63% will be retail customers and over 65% choosing a five door model. When it comes to the choice of specification she said the base level Touch specification will appeal to only 5% of customers, the mid range Feel 64% and the top spec Flair spec around 31%.

Like its Toyota and Peugeot siblings the C1 majors on smart, cheerful and compact design, improved driveability, more ride comfort, low running costs and lots of personalisation options and with the choice of eight exterior colours. It is available with a 7-inch Touch Drive interface that groups together all of the car’s media functions (radio, telephone, on-board computer).

The C1 is also Citroën’s first model to feature Mirror Screen technology, which offers an advanced connectivity solution. This function allows the motorist to copy their smartphone content onto the 7-inch Touch Drive interface for easy display and control.

Users install an app enabling them to connect to and share data via the car’s USB port. They can then access their smartphone’s various functions using the touchscreen. Mirror Screen draws on two technologies – AppinCar developed by Pioneer for iPhone users and MirrorLink technology developed by Car Connectivity Consortium for other smartphone brands such as Samsung.

Once installed the motorist can take full advantage of a range of smartphone apps from the 7-inch Touch Drive interface – navigation, telephone, address book, music, web radio and any other useful driving-compatible functions.

A range of on-board technology is also available to make driving easier. These include a reversing camera which projects images onto the 7-inch screen, keyless entry and start enables the driver to access and start the car without taking out the electronic key, hill-start assist is standard specification across the range and this feature holds the car stationary for two seconds for an easy re-start on slopes with a gradient of over 3%. A speed limiter and steering mounted controls are also available. There is a range of comfort features such as automatic air conditioning – a first on the C1 range – and, on 3-door versions, memory settings for the front seats.

Just like the new Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 ride comfort, handling and steering control are all improved over the previous generation C1. The new electronic power steering is light and precise so it is a neat handling and nimble car to drive in urban areas and relatively spritely, depending on the choice of engine, on rural roads.

A lighter rear axle helps reduce overall weight and that in turn improves fuel economy and performance. New settings for the suspension and a larger diameter anti-roll bar noticeably improve the ride comfort in town or country driving conditions helped by more supportive and comfortable front seats. Rear seat legroom is still minimal but there is more room in the boot and load area. The 196-litre boot is easy to access with the parcel shelf folding away with the tailgate when it is opened. Folding the rear seat backs down increases load capacity to a practical 780-litres.

Citroen C1With the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder VTi 68hp petrol engine with Stop & Start technology mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox up to 74.3mpg in the Combined Cycle is the official ‘headline’ figure for the three-door model with just 88g/km of CO2 so VED road tax is free. CO2 figures do vary depending on the spec/model chosen but all are under 100g/km. Top speed is 99mph and zero to 62mph takes a lengthy 14.3 seconds. It’s fine for urban driving but hard work for open road travel. Our test our fuel consumption figure for this engine in the five door C1 was 54.1mpg well short of the official 68.9mpg figure but still impressive.

The same engine has the option of an automated manual 5-speed ETG (Efficient Tronic Gearbox). The ETG system features a creep function and optimised pedal mapping, adjusting power effectively for smoother gear changes. But only around 2% of UK customers traditional choose this option.

Like the Peugeot 108, but not the Toyota Aygo range, the new Citroen C1 can be ordered with PSA’s new PureTech 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, 82hp petrol engine. This much livelier and responsive unit with a 5-speed manual gearbox officially returns 65.7mpg in the Combined Cycle with 99g/km CO2 emissions so VED road tax is still zero cost. This is combined with rewarding performance with much better torque of 116 Nm at 2,750rpm. This results in a 0-62mph acceleration time of 11.0-seconds and top speed is 106mph. On test around the busy Warwickshire roads our test drive returned 39.6mpg for the five door version, not very close to the official figure but we enjoyed the much better performance over the noisy, sluggish 1.0-litre engine. Unfortunately if you want this engine you have to choose the top level Flair specification five door hatchback or Feel and Flair specification Airscape soft top.

Touch and Feel hatchback versions only come with the sluggish 68hp engine. However if you go down the Airscape five door route with the best selling Feel specification the extra cost of the 1.2-litre engine over the 1.0-litre offering is a mere £350. This is a bit of a bargain given the vastly better performance the larger engine offers which makes the C1 more useable for longer journeys, not just short urban routes.

Overall the all-new Citroen C1 offers a wide range of choices in terms of the specification, the personalisation options and the body styles. But customers need to choose carefully and compare the C1 against the stiff competition in the City Car sector which just doesn’t include the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108. There is also the highly rated Kia Picanto, the Hyundai i10, the VW Up, the Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii and the budget-priced Suzuki Alto. With all these models to choose from it really is a buyer’s market.

MILESTONES: Citroen C1 Feel VTi 68 5-Door. (Expected best selling version). Price: £9,895. Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, normally aspirated, petrol, 68hp, 70lb ft of torque at 4,800rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 99mph, 0-62mph 14.3 seconds, 68.9mpg, (54.1mpg on test), 95g/km CO2, VED road tax £0, Benefit-in-Kind company car tax 12%. Insurance group: 6E. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,465mm, W 1,615, H 1,460mm, boot/load space 196 to 780-litres. Warranty: 3-years/60,000miles. For: Cheap to run, low taxes, improved ride comfort, agile handling, appealing choice of body types, two engine choices, wide range of options and personalisation features. Against: Limited availability of the 1.2-litre engine with some spec levels, minimal rear passenger legroom, tardy performance from the noisy 1.0-litre engine – but it is good on fuel economy.   Miles better news agency

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