Citroen C2 Hatchback review (2003-2009)
The C2 looks great and the cabin is smart - and it's hard to beat for value - but many versions lack straight-line speed
Body roll is well contained in the C2, but the steering lets it down. It's over-assisted, with little weight and virtually no feel, so the Citroen is hard to place accurately on the road. The brakes aren't much better - the C2 features electronic brake assist, but the system cuts in too much. But ride quality is very good indeed, soaking up city centre bumps with a grown-up maturity. Engines are generally refined, particularly the popular 1.4-litre petrol, though acceleration of most cars isn't too great, and the SensoDrive paddle-shift semi-auto isn't the snappiest around. The car lurches as you change gear, making the light, rubbery but fast manual shift preferable.
The French firm is proud of its small car heritage. From the 2CV to the Saxo, Citroen has always appealed to buyers with an eye for a bargain - and the C2 is no exception. The three-door hatch is squat and purposeful, with short overhangs that set it apart from the five-door C3 whose platform it shares. Even basic 1.1-litre models look racy - though this does mean the 125bhp VTS hot hatch lacks visual clout. Design, Furio and SX trims are all well stocked, and the model range is straightforward and biased towards younger buyers. There is a crossover with base C1 variants though - like that car, the C2 battles with the Ford Ka, Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Fox, trading true budget car manoeuvrability for a 'bigger car' feel.
The Citroen's boot features a nifty split-folding tailgate, though it isn't huge. In the back, there are two individual seats that, while a bit tight for headroom and legroom, fold flat for extra stowage capacity. Sliding chairs are available as an option. In the front, a low driving position feels sporty and the steering adjust for reach and rake. The dash is well laid out and all controls are within easy reach. Economy of all variants is good - the diesels are among the 'greenest' cars on sale in the UK - and Citroen has fitted a decent tally of safety kit. Insurance ratings are competitive but those tempting cashback deals do hurt retained values a little.