Citroën C1 (2005 - 2014)
Three makes a beautiful number
Scene of the presentation is Marseille and the area around it, where the car may first demonstrate its potential in the city. Immediately it becomes clear that the French are much more interested in a product of their own soil. The C1 receives many intense looks and during the photo shoots interested passers by ask what kind of a nice car this is.
Where looks are concerned, the C1 is a real Citroen, for the design is friendly, sympathetic and not surprisingly a touch idiosyncratic. A nice detail of this 5-door version is the back doors, which are adjacent to the rear lights. The rear lights in their turn appear to flow seamlessly into the glazed rear door.
It looks good, but it is not always that practical. Because of this design the access to the boot is a rather tight squeeze. A large travel bag fits in the back, but only after removing the back shelf. The back doors offer good access to the backseat, but contrary to what the brochure implies, room for adults is extremely limited.
Room in the front is just fine. This is thanks to the smart partitioning of the available space, but also to the seats. This is a small car that the passengers are sitting 'on', but because of the well-sized seats it is a compact car that the passengers are sitting 'in'. Even over longer distances the seats remain comfortable. On the front seats the driver and driver's mate have a view of the tremendously originally designed dashboard. Because of the immaculate finish this little car doesn't give the impression of a 'compromise to the budget' on wheels, but that of a small and grown-up car.
The C1 doesn't just conquer the hearts of the bystanders, traffic too is remarkably friendly when the C1 makes the inevitable mistake. Not that this happens often, because the C1 has a good outlook thanks to the compact measurements. The car steers through busy traffic with great ease.
The basic version of the Citroen C1 does not have power steering. The test vehicle does have a steering aid, but taking the small weight of the car into consideration, such an installation is not entirely necessary and that could safe a lot of money.
Momentarily the C1 is only available in one engine size: a 3-cylinder 1-litre engine coming from Toyota. The engine is small but lively and the C1 bravely heads towards the motorway. From 0 to 62,5 in 13.7 seconds perhaps seems slow, but merging in with the other traffic gives the car the impression of being rather fast. Although the C1 is available with Citroen's "SensoDrive" automatic drive, the test vehicle is a manual drive. Again this is a welcome money saving option for the gearbox handles very smoothly. The engine is powerful enough to forgive the driver for the odd moment when missing a gear.
While in town the characteristic ruffling sound of the 3-cylinder engine can be heard, this spontaneously disappears as soon as 4th gear is engaged. All of a sudden the engine seems to run more smoothly and thanks to low sound levels the C1 also lends itself to longer distances. Only on steep hills the engine has to work to the utmost to keep up with the other traffic. The C1 may feel more at home in the somewhat flatter parts of our country.
The Citroen C1 is the second of the three small cars that Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota developed together. All three are the same at the basis, just the looks and the way they are equipped is different. After the test drive it is clear that the driving qualities are exactly the same. That is why there are only two arguments for choosing either the Peugeot, the Toyota or this Citroen.
In practice the look is by far the most important argument to choose a particular car. In line with the other models this small Citroen also has a friendly, sympathetic and somewhat idiosyncratic appearance. The second argument for choosing a car is the price. Citroen chooses not to include power steering or a radio in the standard version, which makes the C1 the cheapest of the three.