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2012 Citroen C1 review

  • Facelifted Citroen C1 driven
  • All-new bonnet and bumper; extra equipment
  • Goes on sale in April, priced from about 7995
Words ByAndy Pringle

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This is the facelifted version of Citroens smallest car, the C1; and, along with its new nose come lower running costs and new trim on offer.

The most obvious changes are those to the front of the car, where it sports a shorter bonnet and a new nose, incorporating vertical LED daytime running lights and foglights. Meanwhile, front and rear, the car also shows off the recently redesigned Citroen chevrons.

Inside, there are fewer changes, but cars with the EGS semi-automatic transmission have a redesigned steering wheel, while all manual-gearbox cars have a new gear lever.

However, perhaps the most important changes will go unseen, and they centre on the 1.0-litre engine, which has been revised for better economy and lower CO2 emissions.

The average mpg rises by almost 3mpg to 65.7mpg, while the emissions on manual-gearbox cars drop to just 99g/km. This means the new C1 is exempt from the London congestion charge and incurs road- and company car tax at the lowest possible rates for a petrol-engined car.

Whats the 2012 C1 like to drive?
Given that the revisions to the C1 barely touched any of the transmission or running gear, the unsurprising news is that the new C1 drives very much like the old one.

Its 1.0-litre engine has a note thats typical of three-cylinder units, but whether its character or a cacophony is a question of personal taste.

Whichever you think, its a noise that any C1 driver will have to get used to, as theyll need to rev the engine hard. Peak torque only comes at 3600rpm and that, combined with the gearboxs five widely spaced ratios, means that high revs are a necessity much of the time: change up a gear too soon and youll find you lose what little momentum you had.

Still, at least the car is fine for city life. The engine has enough pace to get you from one red light to the next without any hassle, while the light steering, slick gearbox and easy clutch combine to make the urban jungle easy territory. With a good view front and rear, as well as a tight turning circle, parking and manoeuvring present no problems.

The C1 will cruise at the motorway limit, too, but the huge amount of wind- and road noise make it a tiring experience. To make matters worse, coping with the ebb and flow of traffic often requires a gearchange or two: just leaning on the throttle pedal at 70mph in fifth has precious little effect. Likewise, across country, the lack of pull from the engine can be quite frustrating.

Also disappointing is the cars ride, which is too firm too much of the time especially for a car thats destined to spend much of its life in-town.

Whats the 2012 C1 like inside?
As with the way the C1 drives, so inside the car theres little change. Indeed, other than the new stereo unit, almost nothing is different.

That means that theres a surprising amount of room for the driver and front-seat passenger; the driving position is good enough for most (if not all), although theres no height adjustment on the drivers seat and no rake adjustment on the steering wheel; and, as long as those two in the front are willing to compromise on their legroom a little, you can get a couple of adults in the rear. Well, as long as theyre not all six-footers, you can...

In fact, the cabin is reasonably practical, with lots of little nooks and crannies dotted around the pace. Sadly, the same cant be said of the boot, which is tiny with all the seats up; and, because the tailgate is only the rear screen, theres quite a lip to negotiate when loading and unloading the boot.

Still, at least, the car has a funky character, with the dashboard still the same unit it was before, and the bulbous centre console pushing the main controls within easy reach of the driver. Trouble is, some of the design particularly the ventilation controls is showing its age, and more modern cars like the VW Up show it up.

Should I buy one?
Theres no doubt the C1 is showing its age in some respects, with the likes of the VW Up in particular now being the benchmark in this area of the market.

However, despite all that, the C1 does have some things in its favour. After this facelift, it looks smarter than ever, and theres no denying that theres a real funky appeal to the car and its design.

On top of that, the low running costs will certainly appeal; and, although Citroen is yet to confirm prices for this revised model (from about 7995 is all theyll say for now), were sure theyll be competitive and made all the more competitive by Citroens renowned offers.

The C1 is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but for all its faults and/or idiosyncrasies, it remains an appealing little car.

Rivals:
Fiat Panda
Volkswagen Up

What Car? says

Andy Pringle