With plenty of racy models to choose from will a used Citroen C2 give you a good run for your money?
Replacing the Saxo was not going to be easy for Citroen. The young drivers' favourite was stylish, great value and fun. Happily, its successor, the C2, was even better, and unsurprisingly it proved an instant hit.
Kit is generous, with airbags and ABS as standard. And just like the Saxo, it's the sporty versions that have been most popular with buyers, accounting for half of sales. The VTR was the first racy model to arrive, but it wasn't until the GT and VTS were launched that true performance variants appeared.
Advanced electronics have led to some reliability woes, but well proven mechanicals have been dependable. Running costs are low and fuel economy is impressive. Depreciation has nudged used C2s to around £5,000, making the Citroen an extremely attractive choice for first-time buyers.
- Interior: door trim can come away from its mountings, and climate control is sometimes erratic. Check the indicators self cancel (they're also fragile), while a fuel gauge fault can give false readings.
- Brakes: check the ABS light does not stay on, as this can indicate there's a problem with the system's control box or relay unit.
- Gearbox: watch for clutch slip on Senso-Drive transmission. Gear linkages of manual cars are known to become slack. Buzzing from the lever when accelerating is an indication of wear.
- Bodywork: a few owners note blemishes in the paint - some pointing to dust in the finish. Ensure the split tailgate is rattle-free and that the boot does not leak.
- Engines: new 1.4 diesels use a lot of oil, so it's important to check the level frequently. Petrol units can suffer erratic idling and power loss due to faulty ECU wiring.
Thanks to greater attention to detail, the C2's interior quality is better than the C3's. Sporty versions offer a youth-ful feel and more supportive seats, while all models get a
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Steering is a little light, but the car changes direction keenly and grips well. Engines are quiet, but for the best in-gear performance, you should opt for a 1.4 HDi diesel. The SensoDrive semi-auto suffers clunky changes; the standard manual is more satisfying.
The C2 has enjoyed strong demand since launch and attracts many first-time buyers looking for a car that is affordable as well as stylish. Insurance premiums are low, so it will always appeal to younger drivers. Availability of used examples isn't great at present, but is slowly improving with many more ex-lease models coming on to the market. Second-hand values are steady and likely to remain so for the near future at least - despite Citroen's reputation for bargain pricing.
Life with a C2
The C2 is perfect for my needs as I spend most of my time in town. Its 1.1-litre engine struggles on motorways, but I'm happy to live with this, as I do only one long trip a year and the insurance is so affordable.Nick Anderson, Bristol
I've had trouble with the radio, but apart from that the C2 has been problem-free. I love how it drives, but I don't think it looks as cool as my old Saxo.Rob Burton, Nottingham
This chunky three-door is modern and fresh, putting many of its ageing rivals to shame. Given the C2's compact size, Citroen has worked hard to provide the practicality buyers expect. All but entry-level models come with two individual rear seats which slide to create more room for passengers or luggage, yet space is still tight in the back. The tailgate splits to make loading easier, but we can't help feeling that a conventional hatch would have been better.