Faithful readers know that we have a weak spot for small(er) cars. What they deliver in terms of comfort, handling, performance and of course economy is nothing short of astonishing, considering their cost.
This is of course the result of the massive R&D effort major manufacturers put in to develop these cars.
When you then come across a car which has been jointly conceived and built by both Toyota and the PSA group, you can be certain that this automobile will score very high indeed. We already drove for you the Aygo, now it is the turn for the Citroen C1.
Our test car came with a wide opening sunroof, very charming and elegant cosmetic detailing and last but not least a powerful 1,2 litre 82 HP 3 cylinder engine, which delivers very lively performance indeed. Did we enjoy being behind the wheel of this C1? Sure we did!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Zesty and charming styling, with that "double chevron" touch...
Despite the constructive similarity with the 108 and Aygo, the Citroën people have succeeded in giving the C1 much personality, last but not least with the split headlamps, reminiscent of the styling solutions found on the Cactus.
Also the characteristic square taillights with 3D effect and the blacked glass tailgate add a touch of Citroen originality. We also liked very much the stylish striped pattern used on the seat upholstery, headrests and the B pillar, which give this C1 an aura of French elegance.
The quality of used materials is quite good, and the C1 never feels cheap at all. The well chosen colour schemes give it an upmarket impression and look. We also liked the four door version, it suited the shape of this compact car very well.
Sliding behind the wheel of this C1 one finds back the familiar instrument cluster, dial(s) and pleasant dashboard layout also found the Aygo, with state of the art media and phone connection possibilities. Indeed, hooking up our I Phone was a breeze, and we could enjoy right away our favourite tracks by Stan Getz, Diana Krall, Bill Evans, Nathalie Lorier, you name it...(Vocal) jazz standards suit the sound system of the C1 masterfully, and of course this Jazz music also fits the joyous character of this compact urban cruiser.
On the steering wheel, you find all the necessary commands like taking up/ending the phone conversation, choosing your favourite music track, the sound mode and the volume... So practical!
Nice detail is also the presence of a speed limiter, for those young hearts which could get over enthusiastic with this pleasant driving C1...
The C1 came with an excellent airco and ventilation system, and we also enjoyed the support and comfort of the seats. We were again pleasantly surprised by the roominess and wide adjustment range of the front seats, allowing us to find an ideal seating position easily and making life behind the wheel comfortable for hours on end. Of course, things are not so ample in the rear, where there seems to be only room for the young at heart...
Standard luggage space is not so large either with 196 litres, but it is good to know that both backrests in the rear can fold down, creating a more useable luggage space for those bigger shopping trips. You then get 780 litres. Of course the sliding foldable roof was something we enjoyed very much during our summertime test. It can be truly enjoyed up to high cruising speeds, especially in the front.
Lively performance with the 1,2 litre PureTech...
We said it time and again, the heart of any car is its engine, and to give the C1 all the unique zest and character we would certainly opt for the 82 HP 1,2 litre three cylinder. It has excellent low rev torque, a good 116 Nm at 2750 rpm, and this means that the C1 already pulls strongly in the mid rev ranges, taking advantage of the small weight of the car with merely 860 kg.
Flooring the throttle will catapult you in 11 seconds to 100 km/h, and what is maybe even more important, it lets you hold very well your own on motorways, where even long hills will not slow you down, and keeping up higher cruising speeds in the region of 135 km/h is just a breeze, fully laden or not.
Top speed is a good 170 km/h, by the way. The engine is very quiet at constant speeds, and emits a pleasant roar when revved up and you push the throttle deeper under acceleration. The five speed manual gearbox shifts smoothly and has well chosen gear ratios, suiting very well the good engine torque. Of course this engine is frugal and "green".
CO2 emissions stay below the 100g/km mark, and urban driving costs you only some 5,4 litres, according to the manufacturer. On the open road, consumption drops below 4 litres, and the official average consumption figure is 4,3 litres, which is not unrealistic at all, when you follow the gearshift indications, for instance. In practice, we found our consumption on average approaching the 6 litre/100 km mark, but we have to admit that we were tempted more than often to drive the car with verve...
Driveability at crawling speeds was impaired somewhat by an acceleration "flat spot" when starting off, making initial progress somewhat jerky. We would suggest some further fine-tuning here to achieve state of the art smoothness...
Smooth suspension with rock steady handling
Compared to the previous model, the suspension is only slightly altered. The rear axle has been redesigned to save 4 kg, the shock absorbers are new and the roll bars have been revised. So we find all the good qualities back of its predecessor, with a very comfortable suspension, smoothing out nasty city potholes and bumpy small urban streets and country paths admirably.
High speed cruising is also a very well ironed out affair, and indeed the C1 offers suspension comfort worthy of much larger cars. Combined with this is rock steady handling, neutral cornering and excellent straight line stability.
The steering is light, precise, and quiet at speed, a joy to use in the city.
All this means that the car can be driven with verve in total confidence, up to very high speeds, has large safety reserves and does all this with excellent comfort, given its weight and size. Vibrations, tire roar and wind noise are very well suppressed, and this qualifies the car also as a good cruiser and long distance traveller.
The C1 is a very impressive all round car, expertly designed and built, with excellent qualities. It is very lively and fun to drive, especially in the 1,2 litre PureTech version, it has excellent and "cool" infotainment, it is economical, comfortable, nimble in town and stands very well out on the motorway, making it also very well suited for those long (holiday) trips.
It won't break the bank in purchase and driving costs, and will instead reward you with tons of driving pleasure, making ownership of this car a very joyous affair. Do we need to add more? Well, plunge for the Airscape version, and let the sunshine in...
Hans Knol ten Bensel