2CV beats all eggs-pectations in battle with Citroën’s new C-Crosser 4×4

Here’s a fight that makes that famous David-versus-Goliath spat look positively fair.

In the black corner is the 2008 Citroën C-Crosser, all 1.75t of it, with 2.2-litre, 156hp engine under the bonnet, wheels the size of Parmesan cheeses and enough automatic traction-boosting technology to take your granny up Mont Blanc without disturbing her hairdo.

In the other black corner (whenever happened to imaginative car colours?) is another Citroën off-roader. It’s a little smaller and older than the C-Crosser and it looks suspiciously like Noddy’s car done up for a funeral.

Yes it’s the Citroën 2CV, and we’re longing to say that these old-fashioned looks hide a mass of powerful modern off-road technology. But they don’t, so we can’t.

Here’s how the mighty battle panned out.

First the 2CV

11am. The 2CV, whirring and wheezing like a Dalek on 40 ciggies a day, slips and slides up the grass margin at the side of the field. The plan is to make a diagonal crossing that strategically skirts the worst of the stiffer land.

I pause at the side of field to gird my loins and check the eggs are safe in their basket on the seat. Looking at the skinny wheels on the 2CV and the towering crests of all those furrows ahead, I feel like a man about to cross the Atlantic in a £12 rubber dingy with two plastic oars and the Little Chef map of Norfolk. This is never going to work.

11.02am Deep breath, then the 2CV hurls itself at the ploughed land with the force and fury of an enraged poodle. The bonnet of the car rises and falls as the wheels drop into the gaps between the furrow and the engine roars like a turbocharged sewing machine. Darren had said “whatever you do, don’t let the speed drop, otherwise you’re stuffed”, but I don’t know if I dare keep up this speed. At least the eggs are still in the basket and not free-ranging around the car.

11.05am We’re into the centre of the field and the ground is softer here. There’s less of the rising and falling, but those narrow wheels are sinking in deeper and the tiny engine is struggling to provide enough power. The suspension is creaking, too, much like the Cutty Sark rounding the Cape of Good Hope. Eggs still though.

11.07am Almost there, but trouble looms. The clod bridge we had constructed to allow the 2CV to cross the 10in-deep headland furrow had collapsed on impact and the car was well and truly stuck. Lots of stalling, revving and rocking back and forth finally got it out. Two eggs jump out of basket but stay on seat and don’t break. Contrary to all expectations, we’re there, with nothing bent or broken.

Citroen 2

Then the C-Crosser

11.30am The C-Crosser pulls into position by the side of the ploughed field. Colleague Nick selects 4wd and traction control. The eggs are in position and all is calm as this 21st century battlecruiser gets ready to storm across the furrows.

11.32am The C-Crosser trundles across the field with the enthusiasm and purposefulness of a Russian T34 tank crashing through a Berlin suburb. Sheer power and weight allow it to push through where the 2CV hopped across. However, the soft soil takes all the vehicle’s power and there’s surprisingly little in reserve. Eggs still intact, though.

11.34am. With a wobble and a shudder, the C-Crosser lumbers over the headland furrow and back on to the stubble headland. It was all very confident and undramatic no metal was bent nor curses uttered. The eggs, as you’d expect, were totally unmoved by the experience.

Citroen 3

Verdict

So which was the best off-roader? There’s no denying it – the C-Crosser was quieter and quicker and was never in danger of getting stuck, but then it should be with its huge power advantage and its all-wheel-drive. We wouldn’t have expected anything less.

But the way the tiny, frail, wheezy 2CV with its post-war technology scuttled across a freshly-ploughed field in January was astonishing. Add in its low cost, modest fuel consumption and minimal impact on the environment and you have to wonder which is the best (as opposed to the most capable) off-roader. Perhaps less really is more.

David v Goliath?

 

C-Crosser

Exclusive 2CV

Engine

2200cc diesel

602cc petrol

Power

156hp

32hp

Top speed

124mph

71mph

0-60mph

9.9 seconds

20
seconds

Transmission

6-speed manual

4-speed manual (no synchro in 1st)

Suspension

McPherson strut + multi-link at the rear

Independent

4wd system

2wd/4wd/lock

None*

Fuel consumption

39mpg

50mpg

Fuel tank

60 litres

25
litres

Tyres

225 R18

135 R15

Weight

1747kg

725kg

Navigation kit

In-dash satellite navigation (opt)

Road atlas (opt)

Insurance group

13E

1

£25,490

£poa**

* Citroën launched a 4×4 Sahara version in 1960 with front and rear engines, twin fuel tanks and dual gearboxes. But it was twice the price of a standard 2CV and only 650 were built.

** Production ceased in 1990 but Frome 2CV can do you a refurbished 2CV for anything from £4000 to £8500. At the top end of that band you get a virtually new car.

More details?

See more