Small cars with low running costs are big business and Citroen’s C1 fits the bill, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

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Engines – Unusually for a city car, the C1 was made available with a diesel engine alongside the predictable petrol offering. It’s unusual because the financial gains are slim at best given that such a vehicle won’t be driven hard like a traditional company car. That said, the diesel C1 performs well on the road, but predictably the petrol variant makes more financial sense and is lighter on its feet around town.

Exterior – A cheerful-looking car in the metal, Citroen’s designers did a fine job with the C1. For its role in life, the C1’s proportions are spot on and help the driver make light work of navigating the many obstacles that form part of the urban jungle.

Interior – The combination of a high roofline and plenty of glass has resulted in a light and airy cabin. Those in the front shouldn’t feel cramped despite the car’s modest dimensions, while those in the back benefit from a surprising amount of legroom. Hard-wearing plastics dominate – no bad thing considering the harsh environment the car usually inhabits.

Driving – The combination of low weight and, in petrol guise, a rev-happy and willing engine, combine to deliver a sprightly and engaging performance. Weighty steering and an accurate manual gearshift help enormously, and the good all-round visibility makes parking a breeze.

Ownership – Small cars rarely cost much to run and the C1 is no different. Modest fuel consumption combined with equally modest insurance, road tax and servicing costs should help keep more of your money in your pocket. Thanks to its size, the C1 is the perfect fit for city motoring, although you’ll need to plan ahead when it comes to loadspace as the C1’s boot isn’t the biggest in the world.

What to look for – Being a car favoured by urban motoring types, C1s are prone to attracting the usual parking dents and kerbed wheels associated with its chosen environment. As such, a careful inspection inside and out is a must, along with a thorough test-drive – at this low price point any major repairs could easily wipe out most of the purchase price. Also, don’t forget to check the paperwork for gaps in the car’s service history.

Model history – 2005, Citroen launches its new city car – the C1. Three-cylinder petrol motor and diesel engine offered. Good levels of standard equipment for its price, plus a practical and hardwearing cabin and comfortable ride make it attractive for city drivers with a modest budget. In 2009 there was a minor facelift plus improvements made to 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Reasons to buy – Looks, ownership costs, performance, ease of use.

Reasons to beware – Engines sound gruff when pushed, modest rear cabin space despite inclusion of five-door model.

Pick of the range – C1 1.0 VT three-door.

What to pay – 2009 09 £4,775; 2009 59 £4,975; 2010 10 £5,375; 2010 60 £5,600; 2011 11 £6,050; 2011 61 £6,475. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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