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Long-term tests

Citroen C2

Oh no, I've turned into a boy racer - and it's all Citroen's fault. There I was, finally beginning to act my age, and then I get a C2 VTS to run as a long-term test car. Now, I'm wearing tracksuits and checked caps, and I've started hanging out down at the seafront on a Sunday night with the rest of the teenage cruisers.

  • Had to fit spare after kids deflated back tyre. Parking sensors don't always work
  • Sharp handling, styling, fun to drive, practical split tailgate, simple folding seat layout, easy to park

Oh no, I've turned into a boy racer - and it's all Citroen's fault. There I was, finally beginning to act my age, and then I get a C2 VTS to run as a long-term test car. Now, I'm wearing tracksuits and checked caps, and I've started hanging out down at the seafront on a Sunday night with the rest of the teenage cruisers.

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I never used to be like this. In fact, when I first heard Auto Express was getting a C2, I hoped it would be the 1.4 HDi - as with most people over 30, I was more interested in mpg than bhp.

But not any more! And it's a good job, too, as despite its small size the VTS has a large thirst. The city car is returning only 28mpg - although to be fair it's mainly used around town. And it's here where the little Citroen makes most sense.

The compact dimensions and light steering make it perfect for London's busy streets. The C2 fits in spaces other drivers have to pass by - but squeezing in isn't as easy as it should be, as the optional parking sensors are playing up. Still, you needn't worry about leaving room to access the boot, as the split rear hatch means you can load even in tight spots.

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Practicality is boosted further by the optional modular rear seats, which can be slid forward, backwards, reclined and even folded up if you need to carry large items. This is included with the parking sensors as part of the £450 convenience pack.

Other things I love about the VTS are its automatic headlamps and windscreen wipers, plus the easy-access CD multichanger built into the dash - although none of this is standard. But that's not to say the Citroen is perfect; while I like the digital speedo, the rev counter is hard to read. Also, even after two months, I am still not happy with the seating position; unless you've got long arms and short legs, getting comfortable proves difficult.

On the plus side, the driver's seat is adjustable for height, as is the steering wheel - although this doesn't extend enough for reach, as I'd like. True, a lot of rivals don't even have this feature; but they do have more progressive brakes. In the C2, the middle pedal is more like an on-off switch. Citroen's EBA system is to blame for this.

Yet the VTS's edgy styling and go-kart handling more than make up for these failings. The 125bhp 1.6-litre engine is feisty, too, but to get the best out of it you have to rev it. Also, the C2 attracts a lot of attention - wherever I drive, teenagers in hooded tops make gang signs at me. But you know what they say: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...

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