Citroen C4 review
The new Citroen C4 is part hatchback, part crossover, and offers funky styling, loads of kit and a comfortable drive
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Citroen has made a bold return to the family car market with a funky coupe crossover-style hatchback: the C4. It’s available in petrol, diesel and fully electric forms to offer the broadest possible appeal.
Still, it’s clear from just a glance that this is not the same old humdrum Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival. The funky and bold exterior styling makes the previous car seem more outdated than a fax machine, with a strong combination of coupe-hatch svelteness with SUV-like presence.
There’s a new set of LED lights that have a different look to previous Citroens – it’s sharper and bolder than before. It also has a much more sporty shape than other Citroens, which tend to have a softer, more rounded look. It’s more in line with other sharply-styled models that are a similar price, such as the SEAT Leon.
The Citroen C4’s interior isn’t as unusual as the one in the old Citroen C4 Cactus, but it’s probably the highest quality cabin you’ve ever seen from the French brand. There’s plenty of soft-touch materials and a general feeling of solidity that was rarely found in Citroens of old. Sure, it’s not quite an Audi, but it’s easily up to the general class standard there.
The Citroen C4’s SUV-like styling means that, physically, it appears larger than alternatives such as the Volkswagen Golf. However, it has a boot capacity of 380 litres, which is only average at best for this size of family car.
There are four trim levels: Sense, Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus, although the electric e-C4 does without the entry-level specification.
All models come with LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and dual-zone climate control. Sense Plus is probably the best choice in the range for value, but the higher-end models are very well kitted out.
It looks like the illegitimate child of an SUV and a fast coupe, and certainly stands out from the family hatch crowd.
The C4 has plenty of choice when it comes to engines. Alongside the electric-only e-C4 model, there are three petrols and two diesel models.
The 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrol model is available with 100hp, 130hp and 155hp, and the diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with either 110hp or 130hp. The 100hp petrol and 110hp diesel are manual only, while the 155hp petrol and 130hp diesel are auto-only. On the 130hp petrol you can choose which gearbox you want.
Even the base petrol offers perfectly adequate pace, but the 130hp version would be our pick. It’s frugal, too, making the diesel a tad redundant unless you spend half your life on motorways.
Whatever engine you go for, this is not the sort of car that will have you carving up B-roads like you’re on a rally stage. Citroen has deliberately put comfort at the top of the priority list, so the ride is smooth and wind and road noise are kept in check. But the flip side of this is that the body leans over a quite a bit in the bends, and the steering doesn’t inspire confidence like the best-driving family hatchbacks.
But if you’re not interested in zooming about like your hair’s on fire, why not check out how much you can save off a Citroen C4 on our deals page?
Don’t be fooled by the SUV-aping appearance; the C4 is no more practical than normal family hatchbacks
If you think by being taller and more SUV-like the Citroen C4 is roomier than traditional hatchbacks, you’d be wrong.
Granted, it’s hardly cramped. Despite the steeply raked windscreen making the dashboard feel quite close there’s plenty of room for six footers to get comfortable in the driver or front passenger seats. The optional panoramic sunroof doesn’t dent headroom too much, either, and because Citroen doesn’t have the same small steering wheel layout as its sister brand Peugeot most shapes and sizes of driver will find good adjustment and be able to get comfortable.
In the back, too, you’ll find two adults with long legs won’t struggle for knee or foot space. However, taller folk might take issue with headroom, which is a little less generous than you might hope due to that coupe-like sloping roofline.
That’s more of an issue if you try and squeeze three passengers in the back, as adults will likely find their heads against the roof. Still, there’s a nearly completely flat floor so nobody needs to play footsie to get their legs comfortable.
There’s some thoughtful storage touches in the Citroen C4, mainly located in the front.
In the centre of the dash is a well-placed wireless smartphone charging pad (in many cars these are clearly afterthoughts) flanked by two USB-C connectors for further devices. Below this is a handy storage stray that stops things rattling around.
While there is the usual small glovebox – Citroen doesn’t bother moving the fuse box for right-hand drive cars, so it takes up a big chunk of space – above it is a really handy tray that slides out to reveal another storage space. Citroen will also supply a mount to clip a tablet to it – although the tray doesn’t come in entry-level models.
There’s also a couple of cupholders beside a flip-up armrest, and the door bins are a useful size. In the back you’ll find cupholders in the centre armrest, too.
The boot in the Citroen C4 isn’t a particular highlight of the car. It offers 380-litres of space, which is reasonable but matched (and in some cases beaten) by a number of conventional hatchbacks or similarly-sized crossovers.
You’ll squeeze five carry-on luggage cases beneath the C4’s parcel shelf – about average for this size of car, but beaten by a number of alternatives including the Skoda Scala and Nissan Juke. At least the boot floor can be adjusted to allow a bit of underfloor space and reduce the loading lip, or to maximise outright capacity.
There’s no sliding or reclining cleverness with the C4’s rear seats, sadly, but they do at least split-fold pretty easily thanks to levers within the boot you can pull to fold them down. You’ll get a largely flat load bay if you do that, too.
The C4 is just as comfort-oriented as other Citroen models, but rivals such as the Ford Focus offer a better balance of ride and handling
Most people's needs will be met by the punchy and fairly frugal Puretech 130 - but the EV version is well worth a look
A big selling point of the new Citroen C4 is the fact that it’s offered with petrol, diesel and fully electric variants.
All the petrol options are based around a 1.2-litre Puretech three-cylinder engine, but in three states of tune: 100hp, 130hp and 155hp. Like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we’d plump for the middling 130hp option as it offers the best combination of power, fuel economy and purchase price, and can be had with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Even the 100hp version offers perfectly adequate performance, however. The 155hp version should feel strong, but it may not be all that necessary given this is no sports car. All three engines are three-cylinders, but they are refined and smooth examples that even sound quite fruity.
We’ve only driven the automatic version at this point. It’s not the smoothest or fastest-shifting gearbox out there, and can be a little jerky at very low speed, but it behaves perfectly fine once up to speed. Traditionally Citroen manual gearboxes aren’t all that pleasant to use, so it’s likely the auto will suit the car’s relaxed vibes better.
You should favour petrols over the 130hp 1.5-litre diesel unless you find yourself regularly doing lots of motorway miles: It’s good, but hardly necessary when the 130hp petrol is quieter, just as quick and easily manages 40-45mpg without much effort. It’s also worth checking out the all-electric e-C4 which, although it doesn’t offer a massive electric range, will suit many people’s normal journeys.
The electric e-C4 puts out a reasonable 136hp from its front-mounted electric motor, enough for a fairly sprightly 0-62mph time of nine seconds. It’s clearly no Tesla, but as with all EVs the instant shove from any speed means it rarely feels underpowered.
Another thing it has in common with most EVs, however, is an optimistic official range figure from its 50kWh battery. 217 miles sounds like plenty, but unless your commute takes place in a laboratory you’ll find about 160-180 miles to be the most you’ll see, and that can reduce quite dramatically in cold weather.
While some car companies relentlessly chase ever sharper handling, Citroen likes to go its own way with how its cars drive – and the C4 is no different.
All versions of the C4 use fancy-sounding ‘progressive hydraulic cushion’ suspension. Basically, all you need to know is it lets Citroen set up the C4 really softly but is meant to stop the car feeling bouncy or wallowy.
And they work, to a point. Comfort is clearly the priority here, and the Citroen C4 cushions most of the typical about-town potholes, speed humps and scarred roads really well. Where it does come unstuck is really large or sharp bumps, which can sometimes penetrate the cabin, but it’s one of those cars where you aren’t worried about bumping up the kerb a bit to park.
The special suspension also doesn’t completely remove the feeling of bounciness on fast, undulating roads, either. Turn into a corner at medium speed and you’ll notice the body rolls about a lot more than a conventional, lower-to-the-ground hatchback, but even a small SUV such as a Ford Puma controls its body movement far better.
Still, it’s perfectly good enough if you’re not driving it enthusiastically. Road and wind noise are well-isolated and the controls are light and easy. The C4 also has a good turning circle, so it’s a doddle to drive about town.
Forget Citroens of old: the new C4’s interior is well-made and attractive, and the infotainment is getting better
Citroen C4 colours
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