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Citroen C2

Broadcast date : 2nd May 2004

The Citroen C2 is based very much on the larger C3, but with a shortened chassis to give it more urban appeal.

Measuring just three comma six metres in length, the C2 has a stubby, cheeky appearance. It is configured for ease of parking and making the city motoring experience as effortless as possible

Part of this approach is the use of Citroen's electrically assisted power steering system. Rather than using a hydraulic pump, the system employs an electric motor to provide super-light steering at parking speeds. The electric assistance is then progressively backed off as speed rises to give more feel on the open road.

At first the lightness of the steering is unnerving, but after a few minutes behind the wheel, the effortlessness of the steering is appreciated.

The ease of operation also extends to the light clutch action. But here it is less successful than the steering mechanism. The clutch pedal has virtually no feel at all, and this can make easing forward in traffic a bit of a hit-and-miss affair.

The braking system, again, has been configured for the most action for the least effort. In line with this, Citroen uses electronic braking assistance to help slow the car in emergency stops.

This is similar to the Brake Assist system introduced by Mercedes-Benz on its luxury cars a few years ago. The Citroen is one of the few light cars to use this advanced system.

Known as EBA or Electronic Brake Assistance, sensors measure the speed at which the brake pedal is applied. In the case of a sudden hazard, a driver would naturally apply the brake pedal very quickly.

However, studies have shown that in such a situation the tendency is for a driver to reduce pressure on the brake pedal once the brakes start biting. Thus the maximum possible retardation is not achieved. With EBA and systems like it, the brakes are automatically applied to maximum effect.

Incidentally, once EBA is activated on the C2, the hazard lights of the vehicle are automatically switched on. This is particularly useful in a highway situation where the traffic backs up in front and it is necessary to warn vehicles behind.

Further on the safety front, the Citroen C2 comes with four dual-stage airbags, and safety belt pre-tensioners which are activated by sudden deceleration.

It is this kind of modern hi-tech specification that will make the Citroen appealing to people who place high emphasis on safety. Yet the Citroen does have some dynamic short-comings.

The short wheelbase and a less than ideal balance between spring rates and damping sees it produce a choppy ride over undulating road surfaces. And road ripples indicate that the bodyshell is not as rigid as it should be.

Power-wise, the C2 is also no great shakes. It produces 55 kilowatts from its 1,4-litre engine, which means performance is adequate rather than earth-shaking. However, it has good spread of torque which sees it deliver excellent fuel consumption.

Citroen claim an overall consumption figure of five comma nine litres per hundred kilometres for the car, and in general city use owners should achieve under seven litres per hundred kilometres.

Although it has a number of interesting seating configurations, the Citroen C2 is lacking in rear leg room. Tall South Africans are not going to be too happy in the rear seats for long journeys, although for short city hops rear space is adequate.

At a hundred and twenty thousand Rand the Citroen is up against some stiff opposition from the likes of the Renault's Clio, Toyota's Run X and Ford's Fiesta.

Yes, it has fashion appeal, but you pay for it in terms of a cramped cabin and a rather plasticky interior finish.

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