Citroen C4 review
What's not so good
Citroen C4: what would you like to read next?
The C4 received a mild refresh in 2015 that updated the front and rear bumpers and added an optional £950 seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, yet the revised C4 still looks dated next to all-new rivals.
The interior quality, materials used, passenger space (rear legroom in particular) and functionality are behind the competition too. The soft seats are great for long-distance driving, but that’s the best bit about the C4’s cabin.
It does a good job of offering enough space for the family while undercutting similarly sized rivals
Most of the Citroen’s rivals sacrifice some ride comfort for a sharper drive, but the C4 does things the other way round – it heaves and wallows on very soft suspension. Good for comfort, but bad for anyone prone to car sickness.
The engine choice has some lively petrols and punchy diesels, but again they can’t match rivals on running costs or performance. Also, the electronically operated manual gearbox is best avoided.
Entry-level Touch models get cruise control and air conditioning, but no alloy wheels or touchscreen infotainment system.
When the C4 was launched in 2010 it was a worthy alternative to the established competition. However, the family hatchback segment has changed drastically in these six years and the C4 simply isn’t good enough to rival the class leaders. That’s fine if you go for one of the competitively priced basic models but makes less and less sense the further up the range you go. In fact, we would recommend waiting for the new model, which is set to follow the latest C3’s lead, with a premium interior and far improved levels of comfort.
For a more in-depth look at the C4, read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what sort of offers are available on the C4, go straight to our deals page.
The Citroen C4 has plenty of space in the front, as well as a bigger boot than most of the alternatives, but legroom in the back seats is a little on the tight side
The Citroen C4 might be big, but it's not clever, missing out on some of the little tricks and stylish solutions that you get on more modern Citroens, like the C4 Cactus
Space is good all-round, with decent knee and headroom for the driver and front passenger plus quite a few storage spaces up front. The swoopy exterior styling does compromise front and rear visibility making the £330 city pack a sensible purchase. It includes rear parking sensors, folding door mirrors and a 12V power socket in the boot.
Rear passengers will have to put up with a less legroom than in main competitors and rear electric windows are a £200 option even on mid-range models.
Like many French cars, it’s really disappointing Citroen didn’t relocate the fuse box when it converted the car to right-hand drive for the UK. This means most of the space in the glovebox is completely wasted. Beyond the door bins, there are few clever storage spaces in the C4.
At least at 408 litres in capacity the boot is bigger than in most rivals – the Golf has 380 litres, the Astra 370 and the Focus 316 litres. Fold the rear seats down and space increases to a very useful 1,300 litres, but unfortunately the folded seats don’t form a flat surface so sliding large objects in won’t be as easy as in some rivals.
Refreshingly in this sector, the Citroen C4 isn’t trying to be a hot hatch for the family, instead it’s more than happy to focus on being truly comfortable – something most families will appreciate more than super-sharp handling.
I really like the focus on comfort, but look elsewhere for something sportier
Although there aren’t any bad engines in the C4 line-up the 1.6-litre diesel units are the cheapest to run. The petrol alternatives, on the other hand, are more modern and less noisy than the diesels.
Although we would recommend avoiding it, the mid-range diesel and top-of-the-range petrol can be had with an automated manual gearbox, but it’s a jerky operator that makes the C4 feel dated to drive.
The entry-level diesel has only 98hp, but compensates with decent fuel economy of 78mpg and sub-99g/km CO2 emissions. With a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds, it’s not that slow, either. The most powerful offering with 150hp would be ideal if you plan on towing a caravan, but the overwhelming opinion is that the 120hp model is all you need – it’s eager to rev and returns the same fuel economy as the basic model.
The 1.2-litre follows the trend for fuel-sipping petrol engines. It only has three cylinders, but is boosted by a turbocharger for added pep. You can choose from 109 and 129hp models – they’re cheaper to buy, smoother, nicer sounding and also quicker than their equivalent diesels. Both can achieve fuel economy of more than 55mpg. These engines make a lot of sense if you don’t expect to rack up a huge mileage.
Citroen prioritised comfort and refinement when developing the C4, so it’s no surprise that the ride quality and noise insulation are top notch, which makes it ideal for motorway journeys. The light steering makes it fairly competent at navigating tight city streets, but the large steering wheel takes some precision away.
The focus on comfort means that it’s not quite as agile or as dynamically composed as a VW Golf or a Ford Focus, with reports of numb steering and a fair bit of body roll in corners. Choosing larger wheels doesn’t improve things, they just leave you with a harsher ride – diminishing one of the C4’s key strengths.
While the first-generation C4 had a funky interior with digital readouts and a steering wheel with a static centre hub, the new car’s cabin is altogether more conservative.