For the Max Power generation, the Saxo VTR and VTS were the hot-hatches to be seen in.
So it was a little disappointing that the C2 VTR was denied true hot-hatch status by its sluggish SensoDrive paddle-shift gearbox. But Citroen is keen to keep the boy- and girl-racers happy. This month its dealers have taken first deliveries of the manual, more powerful C2 VTS. Its visible distinctions from the VTR are provided by stylish VTS badging, wider 16in alloy wheels, a larger diameter exhaust, alloy gearknob and pedals and carbon-fibre effect instrument panel.
However, it is the changes that aren’t visible that make this car extremely good fun to drive. The VTS uses the same 1.6 16v engine as the VTR, but power is increased from 110bhp to 125bhp by use of a revised camshaft, valve springs, fuel injection and exhaust system.
Uprated suspension, more responsive steering and the close ratio gearbox give the VTS the feel of a capable street racer. Citroen apparently understands that with power comes responsibility. A host of electronic driver aids are fitted as standard, including ABS, EBD, EBA and ESP, and there are driver, passenger and side airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
What’s more, the C2 range received a four-star rating in EuroNCAP collision testing. Security includes standard alarm/immobiliser, deadlocks and automatic locking while the car is in motion.
Strengths: Great performance and handling, Group 8 insurance
Weaknesses: Noisy at speed, thrashy, tiresome on long journeys
Opportunity: The younger market
Threat: Supply – Citroen UK is coy about how many it can get
The USP: Max-ed’ without the DIY bother
Price (OTR): £11,995
Engine :1.6-litre 16V 125bhp @6,500rpm
Transmission: 5-spd man, fwd
Performance: 0-62mph 8.3sec; top speed 126mph
Efficiency: 48.7mpg combined; 163g/km CO2
Service intervals: 20,000 miles
Rivals: Vauxhall Corsa SRi, Fiesta ST (soon), Punto HGT, Yaris T-Sport, Lupo GTI