Citroen C1

The Essentials

  • Price from £7,995
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 65.7mpg
  • What is it? Citroen's city car has bags of charm, but is outclassed by newer and more sophisticated rivals, such as the VW UP.


  • Fun to drive
  • Airbags and anti-lock brakes are standard
  • It's affordable, even if you're on a tight budget


  • It shudders and shakes over rough city streets
  • You get more free kit with the competition
  • Stability control and curtain 'bags aren't even an option
  • Drive

    The petrol version whizzes around town but the diesel takes time to pick up speed

  • Inside

    It's easy to get comfy, but thick rear pillars restrict your rear view

  • Safety

    Only two front airbags unless you upgrade to sporty VTR models

  • Reliability

    Stylish and solid, there's nothing to suggest it'll give you any trouble

  • Space

    You can fit four people in, but they'll have to leave their belongings at home

  • Standard and extras

    All you get is a CD player with an MP3 socket; pay extra for air-con

  • What's it like to drive?

    Just one engine is on offer - a 67bhp 1.0-litre petrol - but it's peppy enough in a car as tiny as this. The Citroen is nippy around town and can hold its own on faster roads if you work it hard, but the steering is sluggish and tiny front tyres soon run out of grip in bends. The C1 isn't all that comfortable, either, with a choppy ride at all speeds.
    The buzzy note of the tiny engine is ever-present and is part of the Citroen's charm, but it becomes bothersome on the motorway, and is joined by too much road and wind noise. This is a city that's best kept within city limits.

  • What's it like inside?

    The driving position won't suit everyone because the steering wheel only goes up and down - not in and out - and there's no seat-height adjustment. The sliding heater controls are confusing, too, making them tricky to operate on the go. All-round visibility is excellent, though.
    You'll be able to squeeze a couple of small adults in the back, so two child seats won't be a problem, either. Luggage space is, frankly, pathetic, although you can fold down the rear seats if you need a bigger boot.
    The entry-level VT model comes with a CD player and an MP3 socket, but that's about your lot in the way of luxuries. Step up to VTR trim and you get air-conditioning, electric front windows and remote central locking.

  • How reliable is it?

    The C1 should be pretty dependable, with owners rating mechanical reliability 'above average' in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey.
    Safety could be better, though. Just two airbags are fitted to the basic VT model, although the rest of the range does at have side 'bags, plus the option of stability control. The C1 hasn't been crash-tested under the latest Euro NCAP crash testing programme, but the achieved four-out-of-five for both adult and child safety on the old-style system.

  • Should I buy one?

    The C1 used to be one of our favourite city cars, thanks to its cute looks, budget price tag and tiny running bills. The game has moved on, though, and newer models - such as the VW Up and Skoda Citigo - offer much more for similar money. Our money would go on one of those instead.