Citroen C2 1.4i 16v Stop and Start SensoDrive

September 2006

picture of car from the front

Funky exterior is likely to endear the C2 to young buyers

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 6Car security

Safety Rating 6Car safety


Likes

  • Quality interior and cabin refinement
  • Rear seat flexibility
  • SensoDrive gearbox is easy to use
  • Split rear tailgate is surprisingly practical

Gripes

  • Rear head and legroom is modest
  • Rear windows do not open
  • SensoDrive gearbox is not a regular auto - car will roll back on inclines
  • Large front doors sometimes prove too big in cramped car parks

Citroen's C2 sits alongside a number of small cars in an incredibly competitive market. The French firm's Saxo replacement has retained many of the old car's attributes, and added many welcome new ones. In Stop and Start guise fuel economy is top of the agenda, as the petrol engine will shut down when the car is stationary.

There's no question that there's a family likeness between Citroen's C2 and slightly larger C3. However, they possess very different characters. The C3 is the more grown up of the two, while the C2 is the cheeky, about-town car.

Targeted at buyers seeking an enjoyable city car but who have to factor in space and financial issues, the C2 is an obvious choice as a cost-conscious first car or economical runabout for an active, multi-car family. Either way, sticker price and the extra-frugal diesel plus Stop and Start variants do appear to make a lot of financial sense.

Performance isn't sacrificed entirely in the case of the low power petrol and diesel models, but it's fair to say that if you want substantial thrills you'll have to go for the 'warm hatch' VTR model. However, that's not to say that the C2 is a dull car to drive. Far from it; the little Citroen feels nimble around town and stable at motorways speeds.

The Stop and Start variant takes the concept of economy motoring one step further. If you don't like the idea of a diesel motor this petrol alternative shuts down when the car is stationary, thus saving valuable fuel. Start up is near-instant when you release the foot brake. Coupled with Citroen's familiar clutchless manual SensoDrive gearbox, this almost automatic driving experience requires a little acclimatisation but can pay dividends at the pumps.

Our verdict on the Citroen C2 1.4i 16v Stop and Start SensoDrive

Citroen's small C2 is a typical town car: nimble, easy to park, comfortable, cheap to run. Factor in the Stop and Start feature and its frugal and less polluting than some rivals. Yes it could be viewed as a novelty, but if stop-start urban driving is the norm for you it could prove a beneficial feature.

Costs
Costs rating 8

Entry-level models with their modest engines will prove to be the least costly to own and run. Low insurance coupled with low CO2 ratings and high fuel economy make them ideal for buyers on a budget. The combination of attention-grabbing showroom deals and a competitive market haven't done wonders for the car's residuals, though.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

The C2's four-seat layout makes the most use of the available space. It also makes the small boot almost irrelevant - one or both rear seats can fold to make even more room available. The split rear tailgate is a useful addition, while there are enough cabin storage areas to make the C2 a viable everyday car for anyone with a busy life and a lot of clutter.

picture of car from the rear

Straight up-and-down design hides a useful split tailgate

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

Displaying a similarity to the controls used in Citroen's C3, the C2's fascia is easy to navigate. The main items are easy on the eye, although the rev counter is sometimes difficult to see with the steering wheel in a low position. The manual gearshift is light but not always precise, while the SensoDrive auto shifter requires a little getting used to. The car's brakes are sharp - an old Citroen trait.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

VTR and VTS models aside, ride quality is good and is biased towards comfort. Despite the car's short wheelbase, the C2's ride is reasonably supple. Noise levels are acceptable, except when you rev the engines hard. Up front, cabin space is decent and the seats are supportive. There's less space in the rear, but this shouldn't deter children from riding in the back seats.

Car security
Security Rating 6

Predictably, it's the high value models that come with the all-encompassing anti-theft package. However, elsewhere you do get an immobiliser, and there's a useful automatic door locking function that activates at speeds over 5mph.

Car safety
Safety Rating 6

Twin front and side airbags along with three-point seatbelts front and rear are the norm. The smaller the car the more vulnerable it is in an impact, but the C2 comes with a tough structure and ample crumple zones.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

The VTR and VTS variants are the obvious options for keen drivers, with the other models more comfortable delivering relaxed town driving experiences. That said, all models feel nimble and stable at all speeds and boast a decent ride. The Stop and Start variant adds an interesting fuel saving feature, which can prove a little unnerving at first. The engine shut off mode can be overridden, but it can also make a valuable contribution to overall fuel economy - especially if you drive a lot around town.

picture of car interior

Rear seats fold to increase boot space - rear legroom isn't so great, though

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 3

As a second car the C2 scores highly, but it's too small to be a main family car in its own right. An ideal candidate for a newly-qualified but image-conscious teen or a nanny, but the C2 isn't big enough for even a growing family on its own.

First car appeal
First car Rating 8

An ideal choice, the C2 makes a great first car. Cheap to buy and run, easy to drive and park plus practical and versatile enough for a young couple to use as a their only car.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

It's clear that Citroen is trying to buy itself some extra credibility with the funky-looking C2, while moving on from the Saxo's boy racer image. The C2 certainly feels much more refined than the Saxo, and much effort has gone into improving build quality and refinement levels.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Access to the front seats requires sitting down rather than sliding in - and some elderly drivers might find this a problem. Likewise the figure-hugging seat bolsters could prove to be uncomfortable for some larger occupants. The rear seats are only suitable for small children, an issue compounded by the limited access to the rear.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard fit combined radio and CD unit delivers a good performance. Options include a dash-mounted CD player. Steering column-mounted remote controls are a welcome addition.

picture of car in detail

Split tailgate lower section includes a clever secret compartment for hiding valuables

Colours and trim

This very colour-sensitive car looks at its best in neutral tones. Black and silver are two top choices, while brighter hues tend to give it an unjustified novelty car appearance. Seat upholstery is more upbeat and a welcome foil for the cabin's otherwise default dark ambience.

Parking

There are no problems here; the C2's compact proportions, high levels of steering assistance and a neat turning circle make parking easy. Rear parking sensors are model dependent and a cost option, while the SensoDrive gearbox requires a little skill to operate when shuffling from Drive to Reverse and back.

Spare wheel

Conventional spare fitted.

 

Range information

Four engines at launch - 1.1i (61bhp) manual; 1.4i, (75bhp) SensoDrive; 1.6i (110bhp) SensoDrive; 1.4 HDi, (70bhp) manual with 1.6i (130bhp) following later. Trim levels: L, LX, SX, Stop and Start, Furio, VTR, VTS.

 

Alternative cars

Ford Ka Getting on a bit but still a fun, low cost package

Toyota Yaris Peerless quality but a costly and less characterful option

Vauxhall Corsa Upmarket alternative puts the C2 in the shade technology-wise

Kia Picanto Low cost Kia is durable and affordable. Not a high-tech alternative, though



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September 2006