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Citroen’s good-looking capable all-rounder

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With more than 760,000 sold worldwide, the first C1 has laid down quite a marker. Matt Kimberley bundles himself into the new one to find out whether it can fill some very big boots.

The old C1 had problems, and as you’d expect, the new one has largely fixed them. The boot has been made bigger, the styling has been made more unusual and there’s some excellent technology on board. Add softer, comfier seats and you’ve got a Citroen that blends the old and the new with a side order of cheerful three-cylinder engine buzz.

Citroen describe the C1’s face as having a “mischievous gaze”, and for once I can engage with the PR waffle. The cutesy, round eyes are framed by slanted eyebrows and a big, cartoonish grinning grille which makes it look like the car might be up to no good. Revving at the neighbours’ cat, maybe.

2014 Citroen C1

As a small, affordable biffabout the C1 has never had an image issue. Younger drivers love it, and with more distinctive looks thanks to that new face and even a different shoulder line than its Peugeot and Toyota siblings, this one is even easier on the optic fibres.

There’s no getting away from it – the C1 falls down a bit on space and practicality compared to some of its rivals. The boot is only 168 litres (ignore Citroen’s 196-litre figure unless you want to use the bare metal of the partly-empty spare wheel well beneath the boot floor), which is bigger than before but still way behind the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii trinity.

Forget about putting adults in the back, too, unless you can push your seat right forwards and still drive safely. At least there are a few good cubbyholes and cup holders dotted around the cabin.

2014 Citroen C1

In the lower-powered version of the 1.0-litre engine, whose lower price and extra frugality make it the one to have, there’s a slight tendency to border on stalling when pulling away, so it’s not the most confidence-inspiring for learners… unless they like a challenge. Once moving, though, the engine thrums away nicely, the ride is fantastic for a small car and the soft, squashy seats are super-comfortable.

From the driver’s perch you can take advantage of the new seven-inch colour touch-screen, which is bright and clear with fresh, colourful graphics. It’s designed with integrated Bluetooth for hands-free phone use and music playback, but the real news is the Mirror Screen system, which magics whatever’s on your own phone onto the main screen. It means you can use Google Maps, for a start, which is like getting sat-nav for free.

For a car that many folks will say is better looking than the, err, “dramatic” Toyota Aygo, the news that it undercuts the Japanese motor by a good few hundred pounds will be like sweet music. In fact, against all its rivals it looks like fair value or better, although dealers will be under orders to minimise discounts on this new model. You don’t get
the overall size of Hyundai’s i10 or the clever packaging of the Skoda Citigo, but it’s a good-looking and capable all-rounder.

2014 Citroen C1

Young drivers will eyeball the C1 like a hawk honing in on its dinner. It looks great, drives with charm and stability and won’t break the bank with running costs. Anyone with tall friends should look elsewhere, but the integrated touch-screen will definitely win tech-savy buyers over.

Facts & figures

Model: Citroen C1 Flair VTi 68 manual 5-door
Price: £10,585
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol producing 67bhp and 71lb/ft of torque
Transmission: Five-speed manual driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 99mph, 0-62mph in 14.2 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Emissions: 95g/km of CO2