When you tell people you’re driving a Citroën, there’s a moment when they think of the old 2CV. Rattling around like it’s going to fall apart due to rust. It takes them a few minutes to get that image out of their head, rollback soft top roof and all.
The epiphany comes somewhere between turbo and cruise control. You eloquently describe the speed limiter system and the daylight running lights as if they’re standard systems fitted to every car. You evoke the spirit of the last hot hatch Citroën made, the Saxo, and you wax lyrical about the 1.6 litre diesel engine in the front, the five speed gearbox that connects all 90 brake horsepower to the front wheels.
Then you get back in the car. You grip the slightly too thick steering wheel. You start the tractor-like engine, push the clutch down and ease the gearbox into third. Yep, that’s what it’s actually like. And I love it!
There are faults, as with any car. It’s mainly to do with the soft squidgy thing sat in the driver’s seat. I don’t seem to get the gearbox to function properly. It’s far too easy to go from fifth to reverse as you’re slowing down on the motorway. Thankfully, I’ve always had the presence of mind to try changing again, rather than subject my passengers, myself, the gearbox and the front tyres to a sudden change of momentum at 55 mph. I hope I continue to have it because I don’t want to be that guy on the motorway who broke his car by slamming it into reverse.
There are other things too. As much as I admire the Stop/Start that comes as standard, it turns off the air conditioning. In this less-than-british summer, that’s a concern. It’s also extremely disconcerting when you roll up to a red light, lift your foot off the clutch and the engine stops. This would be perfectly normal if it were still in gear. I took my family for a spin and found that my sister and mum, at 5’5 and 5’4 respectively, fit comfortably in the back. My brother and dad, at 6’2 and 6’1 and a half, however, were a lot less comfy.
But it is the most fun I’ve ever had on four wheels. It’s small so it fits into small spaces, it’s economical and it zips around corners like a Formula 1 racer. It is such a laugh. It puts a smile on your face every time you put the key in the ignition. It most certainly is a Hot Hatch and one day it will join the greats in the Classic Car Club. Room 102 it is for this one!
Submitted By: James Higgins (Twitter: @obmij1)