Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 73%

There’s no shortage of choice in the supermini market with excellent cars on offer from the likes of Ford, Mazda, Fiat and Vauxhall.

So it’s easy to overlook the Citroen C2, a car which has never been the most inspiring model when viewed up against the opposition.

But with the 1.6-litre C2 VTS HDi, has Citroen found the perfect blend between running costs and performance?

1. Looks 8/10

The C2 is a cute-looking supermini with a boxy design and the VTS HDI model we test-drove also featured a set of 16-inch alloy wheels, bodykit including a roof spoiler and a chrome effect exhaust pipe – all to give the car a sporty theme. Entry level models get steel wheels and no bodykit, but they are still fairly nice looking cars.

2. Looks inside 7/10

The C2 VTS HDI gets a leather steering wheel with audio controls. It’s quite plain looking in comparison to the likes of the funky C4 and has a digital speedo which isn’t to everyone’s taste. Our model featured leather seats which were comfy but at £980 are quite an expensive option for a supermini.

3. Practicality 7/10

The Citroen C2 might only be a four-seat car but this isn’t the end of the world. Three in the back of a supermini is never any fun and this way you get two cosseted seats. Steering is light and vision is good meaning parking is easy. It also has a very clever boot thanks to its split tailgate which enables easy loading in and out. Our model had the convenience pack which is a £345 option and includes parking sensors and electronic folding mirrors which are quite useful if you live on a tight street.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

The VTS is meant to be a sporty handling car but we found it a bit soft which – while it soaks up the bumps – means there’s not much feel for the road and plenty of bodyroll. Steering is a little vague and up against the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta the C2 is miles behind.

5. Performance 8/10

The VTS we tested was powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine developing 109bhp and 141lb/ft of pulling power. This accelerates the C2 from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 120mph – making it a quick supermini on paper. But because it’s diesel we didn’t find it too nippy at low speeds and as it’s likely to be driven a lot in town, this is quite important. On the motorway it’s very impressive though.

The power is channelled to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, which is quite jerky with plenty play.

Citroen C2 VTS slide show

6. Running Costs 9/10

After 450 miles we were averaging around 45mpg, nearly 20mpg shy of the Citroen C2’s claimed 64.2mpg which was a disappointment we’re confident that those with a light right foot could be closer to the claimed average. The C2 shines on carbon dioxide emissions, emitting just 119g/km – meaning a £35 annual tax bill – very impressive for a ‘warm’ supermini. Insurance group six should ensure cheap premiums too.

7. Reliability 7/10

French cars aren’t renowned historically for their reliability, but Citroen has worked on shaking off this stereotype over the last few years. It doesn’t have the built quality of its rivals from Ford, Mazda and Vauxhall but if anything does go wrong, then customers are covered by the typical three year / 60,000 mile warranty.

8. Safety 8/10

The Citroen C2 is fitted with driver aids such as anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and electronic brake assist as standard along with electronic stability programme. In the event of an accident all C2s benefit from six airbags except Vibe spec models which have four ‘bags. In the EuroNCAP crash test programme the C2 was awarded four out of five stars.

9. Equipment 6/10

On top of the safety equipment, out VTS HDI featured fog lights, electric windows and air-conditioning as standard. And at £13,699, it’s not exactly a cheap supermini. Couple in the leather seats (£980), convenience pack (£345) and automatic pack (£420) and the C2 tips the scales at a hefty £16,110 – and that’s hugely expensive.

10. X-Factor 6/10

On paper the Citroen C2 VTS HDi should be brilliant. Low emissions and high fuel efficiency coupled with hot hatch performance. But it’s not nippy, needing to find the right rev range for the diesel power to kick in and the handling isn’t exactly sporty. As an all-round car, the C2 is almost relic-like compared to the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

Key facts

Price range: £8,709 – £13,699
Date tested: November 2008
Road tester: Adrian Hearn