After the mild disappointment engendered by the cuddly C3 model, Citroen knew that they had to produce a more sporting and youth-oriented car to sate the appetites of those weaned for years on a steady diet of Saxos. The C2 was just that car, released in the UK in September 2003. The styling took a little getting used to, at first looking like a C3 front grafted onto an entirely more angular rear end but, like many bold designs, what initially looks a little odd can bed in nicely. The range consisted of a budget 1.1-litre model and mainstream 1.4-litre petrol and diesel versions. A VTR sports model with a 1.6-litre 110bhp engine and a sequential paddle-shift gearchange was also introduced and was an instant hit.
More sports models soon followed. For those who were less than enamoured with the sequential gearbox, Citroen introduced the C2 GT in December 2003, a car mechanically similar to the VTR but fitted with a standard manual box. This too sold very well but rumours of a forthcoming VTS model were causing some customers to hold their horses. When it did appear in summer 2004, younger buyers had no excuse. With 130bhp on tap, a manual gearchange and an insurance rating fully six groups lower than the old Saxo VTS model, Citroen dealers were besieged by younger drivers falling over themselves to find a dotted line on which to sign.
Alterations to the car introduced in Autumn 2005 saw an all-new dashboard introduced with square buttons replacing the previous round efforts, higher grade plastics and silver detailing. The Sensodrive gearbox was also improved and a 1.4HDi Furio model became available. These C2 derivatives can be spotted by the clear section in their tail light clusters.
The C2 Stop & Start was introduced in Spring 2006. Equipped with the 1.4-litre petrol engine and the Sensodrive automatic gearbox, it switches its engine off to save fuel when the vehicle is stationary, restarting it automatically when it's time to move off. The autumn of 2007 brought a new range topper to the C2 line-up. The 110bhp VTS HDi delivered 64mpg and punchy performance.
In Summer 2008, there was a minor restyle which brought what Citroen hoped was a smarter and more 'distinctive' front radiator grille and an 'imposing' one-piece front bumper. There were also 'cooler' trim colours and equipment upgrades that now included lateral airbags on many models and features like an MP3-compatible stereo even on the entry-level C2 Vibe. To make the purchase decision easier, the C2 line-up was simplified to four trim levels - Vibe, Rhythm, VTR and VTS. The clever 'Stop & Start' model was now more affordable too, thanks to this technology's availability in budget Rhythm trim.