Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Citroen C2 VTS...

Yeah, we're only featuring a French car! We've been a bit Japan and German heavy of late, so we decided to shake it up a little. Anyway, moving on, THE C2 VTS!

Regardez-moi, je suis petit, le français et j'aime être fessée dans les parkings vides!

We may have used Google Translate for that, much like we did when we attempted to speak Italian on an earlier Alfa Romeo-based post. As such, it may inadvertently offend you if you are in fact, French. Sorry. Anyway, this isn't a Rosetta Stone DVD, this is a blog about buying cars for less than £2000 that you wouldn't know you could buy for, er, less than £2000. With the Citroen C2 VTS we shocked ourselves - we had no idea they were so cheap!

Sortez de mon chemin, le pamplemousse doit être livré!

Heh, 'pamplemousse'. We love those crazy French folk! Anyway, yes, the car!

It's only natural to have a Saxo pop into your head if you hear 'VTS' and there's nothing wrong wrong with that. The Saxo was the first car from Citroen to wear both the VTS and the VTR badge, and with the birth of that car came a new line of cheap, fun and exciting hot hatchbacks. They were fun and free of cliche, seemingly managing to avoid any overlap into the boy racer world of XR2i's and Novas...initially. When they got a bit cheaper they fell right into that image, but when they first hit the scene they were a revelation not only to drivers but to Citroen itself. It had found a winning formula and it was one Citroen had to monopolise on, so when the Saxo shuffled off its automotive coil in favour of the C2 in 2003 Citroen made sure the brochures offered a VTS and a VTR option from the off. Citroen bosses awaited the same fame and fortune that the Saxo had brought them, but much like a Frenchman in a battle situation, the C2 didn't deliver...

S'il vous plaît me payer, je suis vraiment très bon!

The lack of instant fame for the C2 was bad for Citroen, but that just makes it good for you lot. It seemed to slip through the 'boy racer' net unnoticed. Maybe their baseball caps were on too tight, or maybe it was because 98% of boy racers never moved on from Saxo, who knows? It could of course, have been something to do with the fact the Citroen sort of forgot to advertise it properly (really, we'll give you a tenner if you can remember a C2 advert). All we know is that the Saxo demographic's lack of interest has left us with a used car market full of unmodified, fun, ripe for the picking C2 VTSs, and that makes us do a happy dance!

If you're looking for a cheap, (reasonably) economical, fun city car then look no further - the C2 VTS is for you. The whole car was huge step up from the Saxo, it was stronger, better looking, it had a better chassis and it was modern beyond its years, unlike the Saxo which looked dated in the showroom. It also won 4 out of 5 starts on the Euro NCAP crash-test for being a tough little bugger...

Le wallop!

...which attracted buyers. It was a huge improvement over the NCAP 2-star Saxo, that's for sure.

Then there was the engine. At 1600cc it was a big bugger for a tiny car, but no bigger than the VTS of old. It kicked out 110bhp and around 108lbft torque which, while not monumental, still managed to punt the C2 to 60mph in around 8.5 seconds. It had all the modern stuff like valves to the power of 16 and two cams and oil and shiny bits that spun and whirred. All you'd want from an engine. As for the transmission, you'll probably find yourself with a 'SensoDrive' for your £2000 which, like a lot of French things, sounds far more exciting than it is (remember 'pamplemousse'? Well, that's a grapefruit). It's basically a five-speed manual without a clutch pedal. Instead you have a two-way gear lever and that's it. It's a bit of a clunky sucker though, thanks in part to its reliance on a series of actuators and whatnot. Actuators are not fast. A clutch pedal would have been better. Still, you can't have it all.

This is what a C2 VTS engine looks like when it's on a pallet, in case you were wondering. What do you mean, you weren't?

The innards contain your standard French clobber - grey plastics and incredibly comfy seats for example. There was also a digital dash, much like the Astra GTEs of old - exciting. Other than that it was just a normal car interior, neither exciting nor offensive. That's fine though, because the C2 is about nipping through town and diving around corners and through multi-story car-parks, not long, bum-numbing drives.

This is where your derriere goes. Derriere, French for your arse. Anything? Sigh...

So, there you go, the C2 VTS, 110bhp of cheap French fun. In a time when fuel costs more than children and the roads have more cars on them than a weather-girl has tacky glitter on her blouse, a car like the C2 makes perfect sense. It's got some sporty credentials, it looks FAR better than a hum-drum 1.0 C2 and it shouldn't embarrass your mum when you leave it outside her house - despite the fact it's a 'hot hatch'.

Oh, and if you need any more convincing allow us to share a little C2 secret with you. You ready? The Citroen C2, yeah? Well, it can FLY! No, really...