What's the used Citroën C1 hatchback like?
There’s a Touch of style to the outside of the Citroen C1, which should appeal to those who Feel that small cars are bland and without Flair. And whichever of those rather odd model names is on the back of the C1, you’ll find that it isn’t a bad city car.
Built as part of a joint venture that resulted in it sharing common parts with the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, the C1 is designed to be a cheap-to-run city car to rival models such as the Seat Mii and Hyundai i10. This is the second-generation car, the original having been launched in 2006 and likewise being a result of that same union that produced it and the very similar Peugeot 107 and first-gen Toyota Aygo.
Currently, there is only the one engine – a frugal 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol – and it comes with the choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed ETG automated manual. Initially, there was also the option of a 1.2-litre 81bhp engine. You could also choose either three-door or five-door versions when buying it new.
The entry-level Touch model gets electric front windows, LED daytime running lights, a trip computer and USB socket for media. The next model up, the Feel, comes with the neat 7.0in touchscreen, air conditioning and height adjustment on the driver’s seat.
Meanwhile, the top-of-the-range Flair adds alloy wheels, a reversing camera, a speed limiter, foglights and heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors.
It has a rather good infotainment system on Feel spec and above to appeal to younger buyers, and there’s even a full-length fabric roof on Airscape models for those who worship the sun.
Even in its base 1.0-litre 68bhp form, performance is decent enough when compared with its rivals, although responsiveness at low revs can’t match the i10's equivalent motor, and it certainly isn’t the quietest engine around. If you need a bit of extra power, you could try and seek out an earlier C1 with the larger 1.2-litre 81bhp engine.
Body lean in the C1 is quite pronounced through faster bends, and the nose dives quite a lot under braking. The ride is unsettled over broken road surfaces, both at town speeds and on the motorway. This may lead your passengers to complain of being jostled about by the overly sensitive suspension.
The automatic Efficient Tronic Gearbox (ETG) transmission is best avoided because it's quite tricky learning to adapt to how it works. It isn’t a traditional automatic, but a manual gearbox with a computer that controls the action of changing gears. It's slow to respond when you want a burst of acceleration and the gearchanges are rather jerky. Stick with the manual 'box if you can.
There’s plenty of space up front in the C1 and there are door pockets and spaces to store phones when on the move. The glovebox isn’t bad either. But things aren’t quite so good for those in the back, with awkward access and rather limited leg room.
In addition, the C1’s boot small and is dwarfed by some of the its rivals. Small cars do struggle in this area, but the Mii and i10 are rather better packaged, being better able to handle four people and some luggage.
What used Citroën C1 hatchback will I get for my budget?
An early 2014 C1 can be yours for less than £3000. However, we’d suggest spending between £4000 and £5000 for a car with a low mileage and a full service history, bought from an independent dealer. Step up to around £5500 and you should find 2015 and 2016 cars, while around £6000 will net you a great 2017 one. Spend between £6000 and £8500 on a 2018 or 2019 model, with 2020 cars costing around £1000 in some cases. Nearly new 2021 examples can stray over £10,000.
How much does it cost to run a Citroën C1 hatchback?
Thanks to efficient petrol engines, the C1 shouldn’t cost you too much to run. The 1.0-litre engine has a combined average of 68.9mpg, according to the older NEDC tests, and 58.9mpg according to the later WLTP tests, and pre-2017 cars are exempt from road tax. Any C1 registered after April 2017 will cost you a flat rate charge currently £145 per year in road tax.
The more powerful 1.2-litre engine is also very cost effective to run, with free road tax for pre-2017 models and a combined average of 65.7mpg under NEDC testing.
For examples registered after the road tax changes of 2017, owners will be charged the current flat rate fee of £155 per year – this applies to all petrol cars. To find out more about current road tax costs, click here.
Insurance might be a little bit more costly than rivals, so make sure you get quotes before you commit to buying a C1.
Citroën offers fixed price servicing costs for cars that are more than three years old, allowing you to budget for maintenance costs.
Which used Citroën C1 hatchback should I buy?
If you only do a limited number of miles per year and mainly stick to town driving, there isn’t much reason to go beyond the 1.0-litre petrol. The 1.2 does have a bit more power for similar fuel economy, but you need to spend more to buy one.
The entry-level Touch model gets electric front windows, LED daytime running lights, a trip computer and USB socket for media, but it’s a little too spartan, so we’d recommend finding the next model up, the Feel, which comes with the neat 7.0in touchscreen, air conditioning and height adjustment on the driver’s seat.
Our favourite Citroën C1: 1.0 Feel
What alternatives should I consider to a used Citroën C1 hatchback?
If you want the most dependable car in the city car class, look for an Aygo. Since it's basically the same car as the C1 underneath, you get the same fuel economy and performance, but it came with a five-year warranty rather than the three years Citroën when it was new, which means there might be some cover left on the Aygo whereas it could have run out on a C1 of similar age.
The i10 is a firm favourite of ours, thanks to its spacious interior, decent standard kit and surprisingly good refinement. It too comes with a lengthy warranty.
The Mii is also worth considering, because it manages to provide ride quality befitting a car from the class above, putting the C1 to shame in this regard. Once up to speed, its 1.0-litre engine is quiet, making it a pleasant motorway companion, if not a very fast one.