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October 27, 2011 3:58 AM   Subscribe

Which car should we buy? A Citroen C1 or something else? Also, new or used?

My partner and I live in the UK where petrol/gas is extremely expensive, and we're out in the country and drive really long distances, so the number one consideration for us is how many mpg's we're going to get. Second is reliability. Very far behind those is how the car looks. We also don't care too much about a "comfortable ride" because anything has to be more comfortable than the old hunk of junk we're driving now.

Our budget is £5,000 - £6500. We've been looking at the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris from around 2008. Then we noticed that for just a little bit more money we could get a brand new Citroen C1 that does about 60mpg.

So do we go with the Citroen or is there something we're not considering? We know very, very little about cars but are hoping the hive can help!
posted by hazyjane to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
WhatCar is a good resource for car reviews. They give you valuations on used cars too so you can see if you're paying the right kind of price.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:13 AM on October 27, 2011

A wee diesel VW polo (or, frankly, any tiny diesel-engined car) is going to get you better mileage than equivalent petrol models. French cars are notorious for niggling little issues (or not so little) and average (or worse) build quality.

That said, they may be nicer to drive, but that's not a priority for you.

Toyotas basically never die, the Fiesta is reported to be very worthwhile and (IIRC) comes in a diesel variant in the UK.
posted by coriolisdave at 4:33 AM on October 27, 2011

I tried the C1 and the Toyota version and ended up buying a Fiat Panda (the 1.2 Eco), which felt much more spacious inside but with the same fuel frugality. You'd get quite a recent one second hand for that money. I got mine new for £7000 as the dealer really wanted to add another sale and it was the day before new year's eve.

On the other hand, none of those is a good long distance car*, and we just use the Panda for local trips.

*They'll be fine, and they're comfy enough, but the engine will struggle uphill at speed on a dual carriageway or motorway and the mpg will nosedive as a result. They're most frugal when used within the right driving parameters, which is city-ish driving.

Our other car is a Skoda Fabia diesel (the 1.9) and it's still averaging 53mpg after 7 years of being thrashed all over the place. You'd get a reasonable second hand one for your money, and you're getting VW build quality, and a bombproof engine that'll last forever.

So based on my limited experience, look for a Fabia hatchback with a diesel engine in it. Or yeah, a diesel Polo or Fiesta would also be good. Any of those three.
posted by dowcrag at 4:37 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bear in mind that the Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107 are essentially the same car, so I'm not sure the caveats about French build quality apply here.

Agree with those who point out that, while diesel is more expensive per litre than petrol, fuel economy is better with diesel cars so it does work out cheaper overall.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:35 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a Toyota Aygo (exact same car from the exact same factory, only the styling of the head and tail lights is different. The Peugeot 107 is also exactly the same). I love it. It's cute, zippy, and comfortable. I do not, however, get anywhere close to 60mpg, driving mostly in stop-and-go traffic in Leeds. It's closer to 40mpg. I got about 50mpg during a week when I was doing mostly motorway driving. It is, however, in the cheapest insurance band, road tax is only £20 per year, and I get a "green discount" at work for having such a wee car that saves me about £200 per year in parking charges. So that's something to think about.

A few things to consider - if you spend significant time on motorways, find a different car. Wind noise is loud as hell at speeds over 50 and it hates climbing the M62 between Leeds and Manchester - keeping it at 60, much less 70, on any kind of incline is a struggle. It also has a TEENY boot, though the seats lay down quite easily if you need to carry anything more than a few bags of groceries.

Finally, even though they are the exact same car, Toyotas will hold their value better than the Peugeot or Citroen. Have a look on Autotrader for used versions of all three and you'll see what I mean. If you really like the car, consider getting one that's a couple of years old and save the cash, brand new cars are never a good idea since they lose a huge part of their value the moment you drive off the lot. If you buy a used car from a reputable dealer you'll pay a bit more, but you'll get a service history and usually a year's warranty.

One more thing - research the clutch problems that these cars sometimes demonstrate. It seems that lots of people wear out the original clutch and have to have it replaced in the first 30,000 miles or less, and sometimes have trouble getting it covered by warranty. The factory clutch is too small and it's been found that the slightly larger Yaris clutch is more durable. I confirmed with the dealer that the clutch on mine had already been replaced with the Yaris clutch by the previous owner, so I feel pretty confident that it should hold up for a long time.
posted by cilantro at 5:37 AM on October 27, 2011

2nding Cilantro.

The cabin in the Aygo( and I suspect the C1) is really noisy on motorways. I think it's a city car really. Nippy and quite fun to drive, but not a long commuter car.

And don't underestimate when Cilantro says the boot is tiny, it really is. If you think about your baggage allowance on a plane, that's the kinda bag you'd fit in there. Vertical too, forget about laying anything flat.
posted by MarvinJ at 6:45 AM on October 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to all who posted. I'll search Whatcar for reviews and prices of the other cars mentioned.

We're not worried about boot space but one big concern is inclines - that is, safety rather than speed. If we have to crawl along at 25-30 mph that's fine but we regularly traverse the Berriedale Braes.

From Wikipedia: "The road drops down steeply (13% over 1,3 km) to bridge a river, before rising again (13% over 1,3 km), with a number of sharp bends in the road – although some of the hairpin bends and other nearby gradients have been eased in recent years."

Would a C1 be safe enough on a road like this?
posted by hazyjane at 6:51 AM on October 27, 2011

The Agyo/C1/107 will HATE you if you try to take it up the Berriedale Braes. I don't think safety would be a problem if you were on the road alone, but what about the idiots who might try to pass you on a dangerous curve because you can't get the car above 25 mph? Even if that weren't a worry, I would just stress out constantly about how much the poor little car was struggling and I wouldn't ever be able to enjoy the drive. I would save myself the worry and get something with a bigger engine. With a bit of research, you should be able to get something really reliable with low mileage for what you're looking to pay.
posted by cilantro at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2011

Hazyjane, I'd re-emphasise a small VW / Skoda with the 1.9 diesel in that case. We spent a fortnight going over the Wrynose pass and Hardnott pass twice daily, earlier this year. Our Skoda that I mentioned above coped fine and gave us great fuel economy when it wasn't on such bonkers inclines.
posted by dowcrag at 8:13 AM on October 27, 2011

I like dowcrag's suggestion: if you can't find a Skoda, the Seat Ibiza is the next step up the ladder on the Polo platform, with similar engine options (1.4 TDI Ecomotive, 1.9 TDI) and a very decent reliability record. With your budget, you'd be buying nearly-new rather than new, but a 2007-8 with good provenance shouldn't be a problem.
posted by holgate at 9:43 AM on October 27, 2011

During a trip to France my partner and I leased a Renault Clio diesel. It's a little car but it was never out of breath, even when we were going up some pretty steep mountain passes. On the autoroute it sounded a bit thrashy but never really intrusive at 120 kph, and it was surprisingly comfortable. It returned 56 (US) mpg during a month. There's one for £7k here with miles that would be thought of as "hardly any" in the US.

I cannot speak to Renault build quality, but my partner and I bought a Clio (petrol, automatic) last year and it has been fine so far.
posted by jet_silver at 6:40 PM on October 27, 2011

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