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Citroen C2 Loeb | Shed of the Week

The limited edition Loeb couldn't lay a claim to its namesake's genius - but it does make for good Shed...

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, January 24, 2020

Shed has owned a few Citroens in his time. He tried owning them in someone else's time, but that didn't go so well. The highlights of his Cit list were a GS picked up for a chanson when dealers couldn't get them off their forecourts fast enough, and not one but two 2CVs on the grounds that the second one couldn't possibly be any worse than the first one. He was wrong there.

All Shed's Citroens were bittersweet ownership experiences. Like a Land Rover Defender, they were horrible cars by any objective measure, but there was something about them that made you want them. A bit like Mrs Shed, only with a lot more want.

The C2 of 2003 was Citroen's attempt to tap into the 'look at me, I've got big wheelarches and stuff' market that had been ignited a few years previously by back-street customisers and certain auto-jazz mags. It was designed by Donato Coco, who also penned the C3, C4, Xsara and the 430 Scuderia, California, 599XX and 458 Italia when he was moonlighting from his design headship at Lada. No, not really, though it is true that he was recruited by Dany Bahar in 2009 to sort out Lotus's styling.

As you will see from the plaque, this C2 by Loeb is number 30 of 310 released in 2007 to commemorate the mega-talented Belgian's return to the Citroen works rally team. The C4 was the weapon of choice back then, so a mix of 180hp 2.0 petrols and 108hp 1.6 HDi diesels. Shame they didn't extend that diesel option to the C2, because the non-Loeb C2 1.6 HDi VTS was a good little car happy to be mercilessly thrashed to get you around the place in a reasonably timely manner. On the road the £30-a-year-to-tax diesel didn't feel that much slower than the 121hp VTS petrol and was quite a bit better on running costs. You'll struggle to find a good one of them in the UK though, and as noted you'll never find one with all these spangly Seb Loeb trankliments all over it.

The C2 by Loeb was £9,995 in 2007. This particular example looks very clean indeed for a near-100,000-miler and is now on offer for £1,495. It's just whistled through another MOT test and there's no mention of corrosion on any of the previous tickets.

C2 electrics can be a bit ditzy (mind the fob alarm), the fuel consumption won't be that great - mid 30s, probably - and the rattly interior tells you that the C2 is at heart a cheap runabout. But the seats are good, the instrumentation layout will get your juices flowing, and most Joes would consider red to be the C2's best colour. Peculiarly, the 16-valve 1.6 petrol engine in our shed struggled to deliver the sort of performance you felt you was much more easily available in an 8-valve Saxo. The C2 VTS's power to weight ratio was 114bhp per tonne, its maximum power didn't arrive until 6,500rpm, and it needed two changes to get to 60mph, knocking its times back to something in the mid-eights.

However it did have one over on the sporty Clios that were recognised to be a superior drive - namely its lack of dephaser, a system that can put a cheap Clio into an early grave. Plus you'd like to think that the C2's 100kg extra heft over the Saxo would give it a bit more impact resistance than a damp crisp packet. Handling-wise it was a bit understeery and lacking in wheel feel, but the ride quality was decent on faster roads and the grip good. Think of the C2 VTS as a warm rather than a hot hatch, try to forget that Swift Sports or Fiesta STs ever existed, and your expectations will be set at about the right level.

Returning for a moment to the 2CVs, Mrs Shed was extremely scathing when she heard the second one puttering into Shed's yard, but when it was sold a couple of years later Shed could have sworn that he saw a tear in her eye. Of course that could just have been the flame on his thermic lance glinting off her glass eye.

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