Citroen C1 2017 Road Test

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Since Andre Citroen founded the company that carried his name back in 1919 the French manufacturer has become renowned for style, innovation and something different from the norm. And whilst Citroen has designed and developed a vast range of cars, it’s nearly always been their smaller cars that stand out, that stick in the mind, that carve out a niche for themselves and have that unique something many of the others can’t quite achieve. From the legendary Traction Avant, 2CV and it’s Ami, Dyane and Forgonette commercial derivatives plus of course the Visa and AX models.


Where Citroen’s previous and new C1 differs is that it isn’t unique to the brand, the C1 also available as the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo. Apart from obvious external and internal variations and of course the badges, all three are ostensibly the same car. So it rather comes down to the preferred brand or the particular looks, varying specifications and brand special offers that will ultimately decide the final purchase. Interestingly, as to whether it’s Citroen, Peugeot or Toyota can at times be determined by dealership location, one or other of the French makes tending to be predominate, dependant of where in the country you happen to be.


For many though the Citroen is the marque of choice, the C1 epitomising the marque’s take on the 21st Century small car. Two or four door the rounded almost cuddly C1 now features Citroen’s now familiar frontal layout of the sidelights set into each edge of the bonnet and above the main lights the two bar chrome grille home to Citroen’s helical gear logo.


Sat on MacPherson struts, coils, hydraulic dampers and an anti-roll bar on the front suspension, trailing arms at the rear, the C1 is attached to the road by 15” alloys and 165/60 rubber. For a small, compact hatch the higher waistline highlights the cars rotund countenance whilst the surprisingly large doors provide ease of entry both front and rear, the opening rear window providing access to the diminutive cargo space.


Inside the cabin, the hard wearing fabric seating provides sufficient room for four and 196 litres of luggage or with the quick drop 50:50 split rear seats folded, two adults and 780 litres. Located just behind the multi-function leather steering wheel, the big, bold speedo almost screams your current rate of progress, the digital vertical rev counter to the left of the main display, the shift light on the right. Complimented by a small readout in the centre of the speedometer and mounted just above the simple heater controls, the centrally mounted 7” touch screen feeds satnav, radio and car status information back to the driver, a wealth of information a fingertip touch away.


Finding its way into a variety of PSA models, the Euro5 spec 3-cylinder petrol engine in the case of the C1 is the 1,199cc version, the enthusiastic three-pot roar from beneath the bonnet at times at odds with the car. Set low and back the transverse mounted unit delivers a lively 82hp along with 116Nm of very usable torque all of which is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, the long gear lever and slightly spongy feel of the gearbox whilst at first disconcerting something the driver will quickly become accustomed to. Complete with Stop/Start, average motoring will return at least 53mpg dropping to high 40’s when driven harder. This should see the average driver achieve at least 370 miles if not considerably more from each 7.7 gallon tank of unleaded fuel.


To drive if Citroen’s C1 doesn’t put a smile on the face of its driver then somethings wrong. From a standing start you need to bring the engine onto cam by increasing the revs to about 1,800 or so otherwise the car tends to chug away. Once moving, by use of the lower gears and keeping the revs up, the C1 fairly spins along, the steering is nicely weighted, the ABS braking evenly distributed, the view excellent and whilst the ride at times can prove a little bouncy, the car’s quick reaction to steering input and almost go-kart like handling allows this little Citroen to make rapid and accurate progress, the driver and passengers comfortably contained within their almost micro environment.   


The top speed of 106 mph is virtually immaterial whilst the 10.9 seconds 0-62 mph is once again almost superfluous, outright performance far from being the buyer’s main concerns. Its looks, economy and the sheer fun of driving the C1 that are the paramount reasons allied to the fact the C1 continues Citroen’s reputation for providing customers with appealingly unusual small cars. As a small family car the C1 is reassuringly accomplished, as sub-compact all round transport the C1 exceeds expectations, as a chic, French fashion statement once again the C1 delivers, the appeal of Citroen’s C1 across the board, all ages able to appreciate and enjoy the C1.


Price wise the C1 Flair PureTech 82 can be parked in your driveway for £11,915 or less than £10,000 if you opt for the 998cc entry level Touch. The comprehensive list of options also allows owners to individualise their C1’s in a variety of ways. Where Citroen’s C1 and its ilk will now suffer is in the Government’s ill considered rehashing of the VED.


Until recently, the C1 was one of the cheapest cars you could own when it came to Road Tax but by virtue of the fact it’s powered by a petrol engine which means it generates C02 the current rate of tax which is around £30 will be hiked up by around £110 per annum. As to whether this next political scandal will have any effect on potential buyers’ decisions remains to be seen, but whilst the Chancellor once again raids your wallet you can rest easy knowing that your Citroen C1 is trying its utmost to decrease this ill considered financial penalty.                   


     



By; Mark Stone



Citroen C1 Flair Road Test 2017