"Now that's a car I can see myself in..." The Citroën C2 has a magnetism that instantly draws one to it, proving that being cute can definitely work to one's advantage.

"Now that's a car I can see myself in..." The Citroën C2 has a magnetism that instantly draws one to it, proving that being cute can definitely work to one's advantage.

The C2 is Citroën's latest advance on the South African market and the only model available initially is the 55 kW 1,4 VTR. Labelled the "big, little car" at the launch conference on Thursday, the C2 goes to great lengths to fill those boots.

Tiny from the outside and spacious on the inside (if you're a front occupant) the C2 is equipped with all the modern conveniences that consumers have come to expect.

Its presence is young, and gutsy with loads of character and it is a pleasure to drive. Based on the same platform as the C3, the design with its short overhangs is neat with simple lines, an elfin front end and flared wheel arches. The staggered rear windows and "friendly" headlamps add quirkiness to its otherwise purposeful stance.

The effect from the rear is as pleasing, with the lines created by the wheel arches flaring up to meet the diamond-shaped rear light cluster.

Marketed as a "city car", it seemed reasonably capable at its task, made easier by its short gear ratio and confident handling. Compact and zippy, it makes its way through traffic with agility. The fun continued on the open road, albeit with a fair amount of air-conditioned panting on fairly busy roads. But drop a gear, and the C2 finds its feet again before powering along, the previous search for oomph forgotten.

With its 15-inch wheels the C2 is rock solid on the bends, though the steering felt a bit too shaky going over wobbly patches of road.

But this car is designed to be a fun car, and disappoint it does not. The interior is a riot of colour with the exterior colour bleeding into the cabin with mostly body-coloured door panels and sport seats insets. Translucent plastic gear knob and door handles would probably look quite tacky on any other car, but on the C2 these gimmicks are comfortably at home. The sombre and business-like nature of the plain black dash dotted with its aluminium-look air conditioner ducts provides a break from the otherwise bright interior.

The C2 is designed as a four-seater, but it’s best if the rear passengers are on the small side. If they are able to squeeze themselves into the space available, rear passengers should travel in comfort in the individual mesh-detailed bucket seats.

Regarding the space up front, driver and front passenger should have no real concerns, as the space is remarkably generous, belying the car's diminutive stature.

Suspension is MacPherson with a flexible transverse beam and an anti-roll bar. The C2 comes with variable assisted power steering dependant on the vehicle's speed, ABS, EBD and EBA, and four dual-stage airbags. Pre-tensioner seatbelts and side impact protection beams are also available.

Comfort features include a biting air conditioning system, electric windows (by the way, only the front windows are able to open) electric side mirrors and a six-speaker CD player. A large digital display and fingertip controls made using the onboard computer and radio features quite easy without distracting.

The driver's seat is height adjustable with plenty of head room available, allowing even tall guys to be comfortable behind the wheel. The steering column is height - and reach adjustable too. Following on from the C3, the C2 also has a split rear tailgate and rear seats that can be moved or folded for maximum space.

Overall, the Citroën C2 was delightful to drive and as delightful to be a passenger in. But for those who find the 55 kW, 118 N.m petrol powerplant uninspiring, Citroën SA announced on Thursday that a 82 kW 1,6-litre version could be introduced towards the end of 2004.

At R119 995, the C2 requires services at every 20 000 km and comes standard with a three year / 100 000 km factory warranty. For an extra R5 000, a two year / 60 000 km maintenance plan is an option.