Shite Review - 2007 Citroen C1 1.0 Vibe
Howdy, I’ve recently acquired my second Citroen C1. I reckon these cars are absolute nailed on future shite, values are now dipping within the shiter’s reach. Against a landscape of vehicles becoming ever more bloated, complex and heavy this car stands out as reliable, clever and very cheap transport and is charming for it.
The review will focus on the Citroen C1, but almost everything can be considered identical for the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107.
I am blatantly biased and I’m a huge fan of these little cars, but will try to offer a balanced view. My review is based on the car as a 11 year old sub £1000 runaround, not a showroom fresh example.
The Citroen C1 was born out of a joint venture between French automotive monster PSA and Toyota. Christened the “B-Zero” project, the aim was to produce a low cost small city car. Three cars were born, aforementioned C1, the Peugeot 107 and Toyota badged Aygo. All three are identical cars, save for minor cosmetic differences on the exterior and differences in equipment and trim levels.
The mainstay powerplant of the trio was the Toyota 1KR-FE engine. It was developed by Toyota subsidiary firm, Daihatsu. This was to be it’s first deployment although it has since appeared in a number of other small vehicles, mainly badged Toyota or Daihatsu. It is a three cylinder petrol unit with four valves per cylinder. Peak power of 67bhp is achieved at 6000rpm with the maximum torque figure of 93N.m being available at 3600rpm.
In addition to this, all three models could be had with a 1.4 HDi Diesel engine supplied from the French half of the joint venture. An 8 valve, four cylinder naturally aspirated diesel engine, this was not a strong seller. Both “on paper” and real world performance was behind that of the petrol unit according to early reviews, this along with the petrol engine still offering very strong fuel economy figures and a lower list price meant the DERV option never really took off.
A compact car, available in both three and five door configuration. The additional doors do not add anything to the overall dimensions of the car. These similarities between models will become a theme of this review. The car was designed in such a way that the minimum number of unique components were required between RHD and LHD, 3 and 5 door and different trim levels. Driver and passenger seats are the same for instance and the interior was designed so that the minimal number of separate plastic castings were required between RHD and LHD vehicles.
Kerbweight of the petrol vehicles is quoted at around 800KG, one of the lightest cars on sale in the UK throughout the entire production run.
The triplets went on sale in the UK through their respective dealers in 2005. My car featured in this review wears the first generation face.
In 2009, the C1 underwent it’s first facelift. This was minor and featured a restyled front bumper and grille along with changes to trim levels and introduction of a few special edition models.
A second, slightly more extensive facelift was made in 2012, this comprised amongst other updates, daytime running lights, new style steering wheel and another restyled front end. More significantly, the more spartan trim levels disappeared from the range perhaps in an effort to help the car appear more appealing when pitched alongside the rival VAG group UP!, Citigo and Mii range which had been introduced a year previously.
In 2014 the car was superseded by a new C1, again sharing it’s platform with it’s Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo siblings.
The subject of the review is my car, registered in October 2007 it is a base spec petrol C1 “Vibe” in fetching yellow with three doors.
The car is short with minimal overhangs and a high roofline. The three door’s doors are reasonably long for the size of car, allowing extremely easy access for front occupants, unless you’re parked tight against anything.
At the rear of the car there is no metal hatch, instead only the glass piece opens, meaning the loading aperture is somewhat small and the lip is high.
The front windscreen is large and raked back at a shallow angle. Unusually it has a single 26 inch pantograph wiper. Bulbous headlights are high up on the front of the car and the stubby bonnet allows easy access to the usual under bonnet check items.
When entering the interior, the first thing that’s noticeable is the depth of the dash. Unusually for a city car, the dashboard is quite deep, you sit a fair way back from the base of the windscreen which is fairly large and steeply raked back. The A-Pillars do impact on visibility in certain situations due to their shallow angle.
The seating position is very neutral, the driver seat does not adjust for height on any model. You do not feel perched up high like in some of it’s rivals. The pedals are nicely spaced out and are not offset. There is plenty of knee and elbow room thanks to the clever central dash stack and the door cards which are deeply cut into the door void. The steering column adjusts for reach and rake, the instrument binnacle is perched on top of this and moves with the steering wheel to maintain visibility. This space for the driver combined with the deep dashboard do give the impression of being seated in a larger car.
The dashboard materials are mainly hard plastics.The doors internals have large areas of exposed body coloured metal. The seats are simple affairs with a one piece back, they are trimmed with plain cloth and are quite flat. This Vibe model comes with manual windows and mirrors. This all adds up to a car that feels spartan and it’s quite noticeable when you first sit in it.
With the above said, the areas that you touch are all nicely tactile and ergonomics are excellent. The steering wheel is trimmed in softer, textured material. The air vents are very straightforward spheres which rotate in all directions and can be closed off by rotating them through 180 degrees. The column stalks are chunky items with a very definite click without feeling brittle. Switches are have a reassuring click, the money has been spent on these items you touch and not on soft touch plastics on the dash top.
As mentioned, ergonomics are superb. The main controls are centred around the main centre console. The radio is at the top of this pod, it has an 3.5mm auxiliary input and also integrates the clock. It is clear and unfussy. Sound is acceptable, if tinny through the two dash mounted speakers, these can be easily upgraded to any other off the shelf 4 inch speaker. At the bottom of this central area of the dash are the heater controls, the two vertical sliders control heat on the right hand side and direction on the left with a central knob for fan speed. Again, these are simple, fall to hand easily and can be controlled easily taking your eyes from the road for the minimal time required. The pod is nicely lit with a soft orange at night.
The main criticism of the interior would be the seats, these are identical for passenger and driver and do not adjust for height. They are flat and have little support, this makes it an easy car to jump in and out of, but they lack support on longer journeys. They also do not have any memory function when letting passengers into the rear quarters which is frustrating.
Slim seats and clever packaging mean that rear occupants do have a reasonable amount of room, adults will fit without issue, again the seats are shapeless and spartan in the back, there is a lot of pillar and the windows do not open so they might not want to stay there too long. Even five door models only get 80’s style pop out glass.
The boot is accessed through the simple glass hatch. Owing to this the load lip is high. The boot capacity is 134 litres and in the form of a deep well. Split folding rear seats are only standard on higher spec models, the Vibe trim only has a single folding back. There is however a spare wheel and jack instead of the can of silly string included in many of it’s rivals.
Behind the wheel the engine is the start of the show. A turn of the key and the three pot in the engine room thrums into life. Some three cylinder roughness can be detected at idle. When underway however, the engine loves to be revved, it pulls smoothly up to the higher reaches of it’s rev range and never gives you a sense that you are overworking it. The accessible rev range and low kerbweight means that the real world performance of this car is much better than the figures would suggest, you can certainly keep up with the flow of traffic on all types of road. The standard exhaust has a pleasing rasp to it when pressing on, like half a Porsche!
Gearing is well matched to the engine, the fifth gear is tall for the size of car and on A and B roads, you may find yourself in fourth for the bulk of the time with fifth being reserved for motorway work. This adds up to a car that doesn’t feel as stressed as city cars of yore on the motorway and it will happily cruise at the speed limit.
As much as the drivetrain is excellent, this is ultimately a small, lightweight and cheap car so it does have its limitations. Around town the steering is light and perfectly suited to urban driving and navigating tight car parks. At speed, it remains light and lacks feel. Crosswinds can also be keenly felt due to the flat sides and low weight. The small 155 section tyres can follow ruts in the road.
The ride is firm but is only really unsettled by larger potholes. The lightweight construction does mean there is a reasonable amount of noise at motorway speeds. Interior rattles are common and disrupt the calm, mainly from the passenger seat and trims around doors.
Even with the mentioned limitations, it still adds up to a characterful driving experience. The car feels taut and remains fun on a twisting section of road, it certainly can be pressed on and raise more of a smile than the sum of its parts should allow!
In “Vibe” spec, the C1 is an extremely basic car. There is no central locking, windows are wind down, there is no rev counter and even the recirculating air option is deleted. On cars without central locking, the bootlid can only be released with the key.
Even the most basic model comes with a CD player with 3.5mm auxiliary input though, which is always a nice feature to have these days. Driver and passenger airbags are also standard.
As you step up through the trim levels equipment is a bit more generous, with electric windows, Air Conditioning, rear headrests, split folding rear bench, rev counter, alloy wheels and plusher seat fabrics. The Aygo was available with an inbuilt sat nav system, it is basically a portable unit though and feels like a bit of an afterthought.
It is worth noting that the car is very modular in design, items such as the rev counter can easily be added to a base model car with minimal fuss.
Almost everyone who buys one of these cars will be doing so with an eye on costs.
The cars have enjoyed strong residuals, probably due to the demand from new and young drivers. At the bottom end of the market early cars with short test still command around £700+ but there are plenty of tidy examples sub £1000.
After the purchase price, your ongoing costs will be about as low as you’ll find anywhere. The road tax from release was £20 P/A and then free of charge on later cars as they dipped below the 100g/km CO2 threshold. Regardless of trim the cars all sit in the very lowest of insurance groups.
In terms of fuel economy, petrol variants were quoted at 61mpg. You will do well to get below 50mpg regardless of conditions if driving half considerately. In ideal conditions it’s possible to exceed the manufacturers figures and I’ve seen as much as 68mpg over a tankful of regular unleaded.
Clutches were modified in the 2010 model year after high levels of premature failure. Check for slippage. Noisy release bearings are commonplace but don’t seem to be a particular indicator of imminent problems with the clutch function. Replacement kits are available from the C1 Owners Club Shop for around £70 and fitting time is around two to three hours for a garage. The clutch is cable operated and sensitive to correct adjustment.
Water pumps can be weak, but are an easy DIY swap, many were done under warranty.
Water ingress into the boot can occur from vents beneath the plastic rear bumper and the lights.
There don’t seem to be any particular corrosion issues.
Very sensitive to tyre choice, probably due to small contact area, look for good rubber.
TL;DR - Nice wee motor, would buy again.