Citroën C1 hatchback performance
Only one engine is offered: a 1.0-litre three-cyclinder petrol. And with just 71bhp available, performance is what we’d call a little underwhelming.
Maximum grunt is delivered at 4800rpm, so you need to rev the engine hard and work the five-speed manual gearbox to make any meaningful progress. Once up and running, acceleration is by no means immediate; getting up to speed on a motorway slip road takes some time. And even around town, you need to keep the revs high to get away from traffic lights and junctions quickly. Put simply, it's nowhere near as gutsy as a Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI 90 or Kia Picanto 1.25 – both of which are better choices if you regularly venture out of town.
As with the majority of automatic city cars, we’d avoid the ETG auto version. It’s a robotised manual that is slow and clunky. Moreover, it often gets caught out when you’re pulling away from the lights or when you require a burst of speed. At least it has only a small impact on official fuel economy figures.
Citroën C1 hatchback ride
The C1’s ride is poor over urban roads, with their scarred surfaces and potholes. The car doesn’t exactly crash into potholes, but passengers are constantly jiggled by the oversensitive suspension. The class leaders do a much better job.
It’s not as if things are any better on the motorway. At speed, the C1 reacts badly to expansion joints and potholes, and is too easily unsettled. However, it rides over undulations well enough. Entry-level cars have 14in steel wheels, Feel has 15in ones, while the others have 15in alloy wheels. None of them makes a difference to ride comfort.
Citroën C1 hatchback handling
The steering lacks feel but is reassuringly consistent in its weighting. Better still, it’s light enough to make quick U-turns and parking in impossibly tight spaces a piece of cake.
However, faster bends will expose the C1’s soft suspension that gives way to a noticeable amount of body lean. Still, at lower, urban speeds, it’s a usefully agile car that can nip in and out of traffic with little bother.
Citroën C1 hatchback refinement
You can hear the engine all too clearly in the interior, while at high revs it sends unwelcome vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals. The transmission whines, too, when you back off the accelerator. Add the thrum of the three-cylinder engine and it’s all rather irritating.
Things aren’t any better on the motorway. There’s wind noise at the front windows and road noise creeps into the interior.
The fabric roof on the Airscape version looks great, but fold it back and there’s a lot of buffeting and wind roar – certainly enough to drown out conversation.