2014 Citroen C1 Hatchback Review

Citroen's baby of the range is the cute and cuddly C1 hatch

Having driven both the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 it was only fair to drive the Citroen model if just to say "Same as the others really".

Review

Good points: Well priced, cheap to run.

Not so good: Interior quality falls short of some rivals', rear seats are quite cramped.

Test car details:

Model driven: Citroen C1 Feel VTi 68
Pricing: €13,095 as tested (C1 pricing starts at €10,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 95g/km (Band A2, €180 per annum)
Combined economy: 68.9mpg (4.1 litres/100km)
Top speed: 160km/h
0-100km/h: 14.2 seconds
Power: 69hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 95Nm at 4,300rpm

Our view:

It's always good to round out a trilogy (except perhaps in the case of The Godfather III) and with the Citroen C1 I finally get to do that. Having driven both the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 108 it was only fair to drive the Citroen model if just to say "Same as the others really", but the C1 leads me to another story - Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

In this childhood yarn some rapscallion does a little breaking and entering before casting her verdict over the breakfast choices of the three house occupants as if she was some sort of Simon Cowell clone. "This porridge is too lumpy and this one is too hot but that one is juuuust right." Where does she get off casting assumptions on people's dietary whims and desires? Some people like lumpy porridge you jumped up little...

Anyhoo, with the Aygo, 108 and C1 being of the same family with just styling, specification and pricing differences it got me thinking - which one is Daddy Bear's, which one is Mammy Bear's and which one is little Baby Bear's - the 'just right' one?

For my money the C1 would be Baby Bear's car of choice. Bear with me ([Ed: sorry about this, Paul will get to the point in a minute...]).

Before digging into the price and specification differences between the cars, the Aygo, 108 and C1 are separated by their styling and, as shallow as we are, looks count. Few people set out to buy an ugly car and generally only do so because said car offers an enticing price point or a bundle of standard equipment. With its Manga-inspired front end the Aygo is clearly Daddy Bear. Not the cute and cuddly Daddy Bear but the kind with sharp claws and a killer instinct. The dominant 'X' on the front end of the car is the equivalent of Superman's red underpants, and while many of us grew up wanting to be a superhero few of us actually got so far as wearing our undercrackers on the outside.

The 108 is more demure and sophisticated; feminine if you will. It is the Mammy Bear of the family and appears to appeal to 51 per cent of the population. I am sure that Peugeot has some colour palettes that 'buff up' the looks of the 108, but it remains undeniably effeminate. That's no bad thing in itself but it doesn't have that 'just right' quality for us. Instead that falls to the Citroen C1. While admitting that its front end is more like the scrunched up face of an angst ridden teenager than a cute baby it is the junior member of the family and the least offensive, the one (on looks at least) that is likely to have broader appeal.

The Citroen also has price on its side. While Peugeot Ireland is yet to announce prices for the 108 Peugeots are historically more expensive than their Citroen counterparts and as Peugeot is looking to move up market - leaving Citroen to take care of the mainstream - that is unlikely to change. The Aygo's price tag forms its own lumps in the porridge. With a starting price of €12,625 the Aygo is over €1,600 more expensive to get into than the C1. You could understand this were the Aygo quantifiably €1,600 better than the C1, but the truth is that the Citroen matches the Toyota spec for spec with electric front windows, USB, LED daytime running lights and safety features like six airbags, hill hold assist and stability control all standard on the respective entry level cars.

Spend €13,095 on the mid-spec Feel C1 and things get even more interesting. This model adds air conditioning, a DAB radio, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and multi-function steering wheel. To match that in the Aygo you have to step up two levels, to x-play+, which comes in at €14,400 (for the three-door) or €14,700 (five-door). The Toyota does also add a rear-view camera to the mix, but the range topping C1, which also has a camera and alloy wheels, still works out €500 cheaper based on a five-door model. (Citroen only offers the entry level Touch trim in three-door guise.)

The C1's biggest problem is not Daddy Bear and Mammy Bear, but more so the Three Little Pigs from the Volkswagen Group - including the up! and its brick built house (I promise I'm almost done with the bedtime story references) - and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk in the form of the Hyundai i10 - the giant killer of the group. The C1 has the measure of its siblings, but the others mentioned here are tough competition.

Alternatives:

Hyundai i10: the darling of the city-car class. Our pick when we pitted it against the Volkswagen triumvirate and the C1's cousin, the Aygo.

Toyota Aygo: born of the same DNA as the C1 but with a higher price tag.

Volkswagen up!: recently unseated from its throne by the Hyundai, but still shows manufacturers how to make small cars.