What is it? Mk2 version of French brand’s joint programme city car.
Key features: Bolder visuals, more efficient engines, open-top version.
Our view: The Citroën C1 is likely to appeal across a wide and particularly young audience.
This review of the new Citroën C1 could equally well be a review of Peugeot’s 108 or the Toyota Aygo – the three have always been built together in the Czech Republic, as part of a joint programme between the three brands that has proved successful enough to warrant continuing into all-new Mk2 variants.
Citroën has sold more than 780,000 C1s across the globe since launching the first version in 2005, establishing a firm place in the highly competitive city car sector, but the car has always been criticised for a degree of blandness that does not sit well in a sector turning increasingly towards lifestyle-generated personalisation.
Therefore the new C1 offers a much bolder body look, especially at the front that now boasts a two-part headlamp design and built-in daytime running lights to create a smiling effect.
The car retains its compact dimensions, being 3.46m long, 1.62m wide and 1.46m high, and can carry four adults with their luggage in a 196-litre boot.
Three and five-door variants are on offer, along with for the first time an ‘Airscape’ model. This features a full-length fabric sunroof, which electrically folds back to sit on the rear shelf and thus does not compromise boot space. It can be operated on the move at speeds up to the UK limit.
The fabric roof is offered in three finishes to create a strong two-tone look with the new palette of eight bold exterior colours available for the C1, including four metallic shades.
There are two petrol engine options, both of 1-litre capacity and with either 68 or 82bhp. Toyota’s Aygo offers only the lower-powered unit, which is a mistake as time in the Citroen soon shows that it needs the extra power of the larger engine to be truly flexible.
The smaller car slows notably at any significant gradient and needs to be worked right across its rev range, whereas the 82bhp unit tackles such challenges in a much more refined manner.
In terms of handling the C1 is very much at home in a traffic-heavy urban environment, changing direction easily, while parking even in tight spaces is easy and becomes effortless if one selects the optional rear-new camera.
Yet out on the motorway at higher speeds the C1 is not fazed – Citroën has worked on the ride and handling and the results are a distinct improvement over the earlier car. However on Airscape models folding back the roof sets up an uncomfortable buffeting unless the fold-up air deflector is employed.
The C1 is available in three trim levels, named Touch, Feel and Flair, with the Airscape doing without the entry-level Touch trim. Notable with the launch of the model is the entry into the city car sector of options previously reserved for much larger cars such as keyless entry and start, and Hill Start Assist, the latter standard on all versions.
Topping the options is Mirror Screen, the C1 the first Citroën to be offered with this technology which permits the operation of smartphones using apps on the centre-console mounted seven-inch touchscreen.
Citroën has undertaken a general programme of improvements without going too radical, and the new C1 is likely to continue to appeal across a wide and particularly young audience.
Citroën C1 Airscape – key specifications
Model Tested: Citroën C1 Airscape
On Sale: July 2014
Range price: £8,245-£11,935
Insurance group: 6E-11E
Engines: 1.0-litre petrol x 2
Power (bhp): 68, 82
Torque (lb/ft): 70, 86
0-62mph (sec): 14.3, 11.0
Top speed (mph): 98, 106
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 65.7-74.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 88- 99
Key rivals: Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen up!
Test Date: July 2014