Publication date: 16 September 2003
Citroen C2

Citroen C2

Innovation on a compact scale

Review - With the businesslike C5 and contemporary C3, Citroën already showed to be innovative. The C3 is a sympathetic-looking car for a wide audience. The C3 Pluriel is even a completely unique combination of practical closed car, convertible and every conceivable intermediate forms. Now, 18 months later, Citroën launches the C2. This compact newcomer targets an audience looking for a car with a modern and sporty look. Also with the C2, Citroën has some pleasant surprises up its sleeve.

The reason why the C2 could be developed in a relatively short time developed is simple: the C2 has some 60% of its parts in common with the C3 and C3 Pluriel. For example, the chassis is the same, but the C2 has a shorter wheelbase. Moreover, the design immediately indicates that this is a young, sporty car.

Citroen C2

At first glance, the C2 is a car that could so from a science-fiction film, in which this is the ideal image of the hip city car of the future. Its appearance is deliberately not "endearing" like that of the C3, but rather but rather stocky and muscular.

The shape with the high rear and sloping line to a low nose, makes the C2 muscular and athletic. This is further emphasised by the thick wheel arches (which are standard on all specs). Also, the line of the bonnet, puts extra emphasis on the shape. The grille is virtually closed by a large plastic panel with a hefty Citroën logo. Very special is the rear side window, which runs lower than the front side window. This is a first hint that the C2 is more than just a sporty little Citroën.

Back seats

With the C2, Citroën is trying to be an innovator in the field of compact cars. For example, the rear seat has been replaced by two full-sized seats (depending on the version). These rear seats are on rails, to choose between more legroom or more luggage space. Nevertheless, legroom even in rear position is slightly lower than average in this class. The headroom is insufficient for adults.

Though the sense of space and freedom is remarkably great. This is thanks to the unusual line of the rear windows. It may be a detail, but the effect is clearly noticeable. If required, the boot is also remarkably large. As usual, the rear seats fold down to increase the boot space. In the C2, the rear seats can also easily be taken  out, leaving a huge luggage space (unfortunately with a threshold).

The innovation is by no means limited to replacing of the backseat with flexible rear seats. The tailgate of the C2 consists of two independently opening sections, just like that of the C3 Pluriel. This is not just a nice gadget, but really handy. A first advantage is that a split tailgate requires less space to open. In addition, the lower part is equipped with a small storage space (5 litres) and is allowed to carry a maximum of 100 kg carry. Such a "little table" at the back of the car can come in handy, for example come in handy with heavy shopping or to change footwear after (outdoor) sports changing footwear.

Citroen C2

Elbow room

It is especially the interior, where the kinship with the C3 is unmistakable. The dashboard has been carried over almost unchanged, but now executed in a much darker shade. The designers say they have done to prevent the C2 from being being seen as a "little C3" or endearing city car. As a colourful note, (again depending on the version) the door handles, door panels and edge around the gear lever are finished in an extrovert colour.

The seats of the VTR version driven here deserve an extra praise. Thanks to a perfect shape and numerous adjustment options (including the steering wheel), they are excellent. Moreover Citroën emphasises that the C2 offers the most "elbow room" in its offers. That may seem a somewhat sought-after argument, but translates in practice to a feeling of space because driver and co-driver can sit wide.


From its introduction, the C2 is available with a 1.1, 1.4 or 1.6-litre petrol engine. In addition, a 1.4 litre HDi diesel available. As the mid-size 1.4 litre petrol engine is likely to sell the most, this is the choice for the test drive. The powerplant immediately stands out positively for its low noise level. With the 75 hp 1.4 engine, the C2 is quick, but not as aggressive as its looks might suggest.

In the hills around Paris, the C2 with two occupants, photo equipment and continuous active air conditioning works hard to achieve sufficient performance. The car feels most at home on the motorway. There, the C2 is particularly stable for a car of its size and can be effortlessly be driven through at high cruising speeds. When sprinting from standstill, traction control on poor road surfaces or in extreme weather conditions is not even a luxury.

Citroen C2

Optionally, all engine versions, except the 1.1-litre variant, can be fitted with Citroën's "SensoDrive". This combination of automatic and manual gearbox, requires some getting used to. The electronics learn the driver's driving style and adapts to it as much as possible. This learning process takes several days and can therefore unintentionally and wrongly give the impression that SensoDrive "doesn't drive well". Once driver and car are in tune, SensoDrive offers extra convenience and safety.

The engines, too, are similar to those of the larger C3, but perform better as a matter of course in the compact C2. In this way, Citroën is innovating even busy when it is sitting still!


Citroën has put a lot of thought into the C2 and therefore manages to stand out clearly stand out from the competition. That starts with a some innovativeness in the form of two removable and sliding rear seats. The split tailgate also proves itself in practice and gives the C2 demonstrable added value. Thereby, the newcomer is offered with a number of amenities in terms of luxury and safety, which until now were only reserved for a higher class.

In terms of design, C2 manages to succeed in something that also characterises other Citroëns also characterise: the car has unmistakable appeal, regardless of its driving characteristics. The sporty promise of the C2 is put into action by bringing engines from the larger C3 unchanged in the compact C2.

  • Successful design
  • Lots of luxury / safety
  • Clever division of space
  • SensoDrive is forced upon buyers
  • Gets really fun with option packs
  • Price/performance ratio could be better