By on May 24, 2017


It’s always fun to see how the other half lives. In Europe, thanks in part to narrow roads that wind between ancient monuments and fuel prices several orders of magnitude greater than our own, small cars are king. When Citroën left our market in 1974, its only offering was the great-when-it-worked SM coupe.

These days, Citroën hawks a large range of cars on the other side of the pond. Compared to small base cars on our shores, does the C1 exhibit radical ideas or a dose of common sense? Whatever it is, there’s scads of it scattered all over the thing.

Displaying typical French weirdness, the C1 has trim levels named “Touch” and “Feel,” which sound like big fun until you realize they’re meant only for the car. The base 5-Door trim is the Feel. Up front, we find an alarming set of headlights seemingly inspired by the Nissan Juke and a narrow set of daytime running lights which make the car look like it’s in a perpetual state of needing to sneeze.

Inside this Gallic hatch, the cinnamon bun of a gauge cluster must be studied like tax forms, with the speed readout layered on top of fuel and mileage information like a multi-tiered eclair. The remainder of the interior looks fairly straightforward and at least no more alien than current efforts from small car purveyors in our country. Be sure to tune up your hearing – a tachometer is optional on base models so drivers will have to shift by ear.

A 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder makes a total of 63 horsepower and 70 lb-ft of torque. These power numbers means acceleration is best measured with a calendar, or by simply holding a rock in your hand and waiting for it to erode. Standing just 57.5 inches tall and measuring a scant 136 inches long, the C1 is over half a foot shorter than the 2017 Chevy Spark but about the same height. No room to park the C1 on the street or in your driveway? Simply bring it inside and hang it up on the wall.

Opposite of manufacturers on this side of the pond, Citroen charges more for colors on the greyscale but the Red Scarlet shown here is included gratis. Those zany French. Notably, base versions of the C1 5-Door headed to England have tasty Sunrise Red Zebra cloth covering the interior, giving this author flashbacks to the cloth selected by Chrysler for its Neon in the mid-90s.

Citroen C1

The C1 5-Door in Feel trim is advertised in France at 10,850 euros, equating to $12,130 (USD). For that price, buyers will find niceties such as air conditioning, a large color infotainment touchscreen, and a basket of buttery croissants. A height adjustable seat is standard — a pleasing addition for drivers who count themselves among the descendants of Napoleon.

Good equipment levels, quirky styling, and zebra patterns on the seats? For just over twelve grand? Mon dieu! Why don’t the French sell cars here? Oh, right.

[Image: Kletr/]

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23 Comments on “Ace of Base: Citroen C1 5-Door Feel...”

  • avatar

    The body-color interior parts are a nice touch. (And, as hard, smooth, plastic, cheap to fabricate.) And while that fabric is going to get dated in a hurry, at least it’s not bland.

    This Cheap-and-Cheerful aesthetic I could support… it’s a cheap car, it looks like a cheap car, but it’s neither a “I couldn’t afford any better” Penalty Box, and it’s not pretending to be nicer than it is.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    If you like the C1, check out the Focus sized C4 Cactus for even more wackiness, starting at EUR 15k for the base model.

  • avatar

    Yes, I want one. Why? Because its as far away from a Corolla/Camry/Accord/fill-in-the-blank-for-your-personal-whitebread-on-four-wheels as you can get in the US.

    Every time I hear the rumors that PSA is coming back, I keep thinking, “Keep your Peugeots, send us the Citroens.”

    And yes, there’s more to car ownership than “I got twenty years and 350,000 miles out of it while only replacing brake pads and tires.”

    • 0 avatar

      There’s also more to car ownership than “it refuses to start about 40% of the time in the winter,” which was definitely part of the deal for my dad’s Citroen SM.

      Brands like Citroen, Peugeot and Alfa died here for a very good reason.

  • avatar

    “……fuel prices several orders of magnitude greater than our own”

    Actually, more like a half of an order of magnitude. Order of magnitude is a factor of 10, so several (3 or more) would be upwards of a thousand or ten thousand times as expensive. Don’t think so. At most about $10 or $11 per gallon in Norway which is about 5 times what we pay stateside.

    On the other hand, their narrow streets are indeed several orders of magnitude narrower than ours…

  • avatar

    Several orders of magnitude? So, they’re paying hundreds of dollars per gallon over there?

    That’s some serious hyperbole.

    /Pedantic Avenger

  • avatar

    This looks as a funny frech car, but it’s also a Japanese car in heart, It’s built in a Toyota managed factory by the TPCA joint venture (Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile) in the city of Kolín, Czech Republic.
    There they build the Citröen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo. The trio is the same car with different ‘flavours’.
    My wife owns a Peugeot 107 (previous generation of this car, we live in Uruguay) and the engine has Toyota branding all over the place, not a single mention of Peugeot.
    Best of both worlds, French design with Japanese reliability.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow how interesting. Do you know where the engine and transmission are manufactured?

      FWIW there’s an article on Wiki that says it’s ranked #1 for reliability in that size class.

      • 0 avatar
        Johannes Dutch

        The 1.0 liter is basically a Daihatsu engine. The PSA models are also available with a PSA 1.2 liter 3-cylinder (gasoline) engine.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know exactly, that engine is manufactured in Japan and Poland, as the cars are built in the Czech Republic I tend to beleive the engines are probably from Poland.
        It’s used on several Toyota and Daihastu models.
        My wife’s Peugeot is 7 years old, has done 90.000Km and we only changed the brake pads, spark plugs and oil/filters. It never ever broke dowm.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, I dont know why this wasnt explained in the article. In fact its been going on for a decade now.

          Toyota 100% design this car… its JAPANESE but made in a low labor EU country and then the car is sold by Toyota Citroen Peugeot in their own trim levels with custom nose caps bumpers superficial trim etc.

          I do like the sheer smart engineering gone into the car… and of course there’s no need to Gallic jokes as the engineering is Toyota solid.

          They NEED to make a turbo 1.2 model.

          Also it has a few downfalls being a sub sub sub compact… it has no roll down rear windows… they meerly pop out.

          I do love the fact Toyota built a car for India but made it safe enough for the West.

    • 0 avatar

      Gotta ask if the steering-wheel, even with an airbag, is the classic single-spoke affair?

  • avatar

    Is the blue color in the cover photo really called “red scarlet” or am I missing a picture?

  • avatar

    C’est vachement chouette!

  • avatar

    This little Citröen hits all the weird, small car things for me.

  • avatar

    1992 called.

    They want their color back.

  • avatar

    Look what socialist petrol brings you.
    I keep reading about red but I see turquoise above. I remember the days when Peugeot 104’s came in that color.

  • avatar

    You claim the interior fabric ages quickly, but I don’t think stuff like that ever stops being fun. Like the GTI’s plaid seats; you always want them.

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