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Long-term tests

Citroen C2

Fun to drive - that's most people's verdict on our long-term Citroen C2 VTS. But not mine. I never thought I'd say this, but I really couldn't give a stuff about how much enjoyment I get from my daily runaround. You see, most of my time behind the wheel is spent in London - and the congested streets sap the thrill out of motoring.

  • Easy to park, sharp handling, styling, fun to drive, practical split-tailgate, simple folding seat layout
  • Image, rev counter, all-or-nothing brakes, limited reach adjustment on steering wheel

Fun to drive - that's most people's verdict on our long-term Citroen C2 VTS. But not mine. I never thought I'd say this, but I really couldn't give a stuff about how much enjoyment I get from my daily runaround. You see, most of my time behind the wheel is spent in London - and the congested streets sap the thrill out of motoring. No, what I like - in fact love - about my C2 is its incredible practicality. You may be wondering how I can describe one of the smallest cars on the road in this way. Well, I don't need a boot that can swallow a wardrobe - the compact load bay with its handy split tailgate is enough for me.

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All I want is something that's easy to park. And out of all the models I have tried during my time at Auto Express, few can be squeezed into the gaps the C2 can. You see, the houses in my area don't have drives. This, plus the fact they have all been converted into flats, means there's a high concentration of people with cars, yet very little roadside space to accommodate them. By the time I get home from work there's usually no room left - well not for most motors, anyway. But it's not merely the C2's stubby 3.67-metre length that makes it a breeze to park in tight spots.

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The steeply sloped bonnet means it's easy to tell how far the nose is from the car in front, giving you the confidence to edge forward that extra inch. This, combined with taxi-like levels of steering lock, allows you to get into spaces in far fewer manoeuvres. Once, I even shocked myself by fitting in between two cars with only 10cm to spare front and back without touching them once! When I got out it actually looked as though the VTS had been lowered into the gap from above.

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But I've a confession to make. I did cheat a little, as I couldn't have done this if it wasn't for the Citroen's optional parking sensors. Indeed, I discovered these were the key to my incredible parking skills when they broke last month. Until they were replaced, I had to look for slightly larger parking gaps. Apart from this minor problem, my only other gripes are a squeak from the driver's seat and the slightly disappointing economy.

The C2 is currently returning only 30.5mpg, and due to the low gearing this doesn't improve much on the motorway. But if you want a car for life in the city, the Citroen is about as practical as it gets. However, rather than the sporty VTS, I would go for the super-frugal 1.4-litre HDi diesel, instead - with parking sensors of course! Mat Watson

Second opinion I think Mat's getting old. While I agree the C2 is easy to park, when it comes to choosing a runaround, fun is a higher priority for me. And that's why I reckon the VTS is the pick of the line-up - the impressive hand-ling offers pin-sharp cornering. How-ever, the steering lacks feel, the ride is harsh and cabin plastics are poor. Stuart Morton, chief sub-editor

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