Motors: The new Citroen C1 is ‘cutesy and chipper’

The Citroen C1. Photo: PA
The Citroen C1. Photo: PA

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 unique 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 that makes it look like the car might be up to no good.

There’s no getting away from it – the C1 falls down a bit on space 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.

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.

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. It’s a good-looking and capable all-rounder.

This car summed up in a single word: Chipper