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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
3:49 PM 9th April 2021
cars

Trés Comfortable! The New Citroen C4 Is Here

Do you remember the old Citroen C4? No, me neither but there is now an all-new model on sale, ready to captivate and excite. It is a distinctive looking thing too. Rakish coupe looks meets an SUV’s stance, which may well tick a lot of boxes. Rivals are few and far between.

So, is it a case of style over substance? I had two weeks to find out with an extended loan encompassing two different variants.

There is a choice of both petrol and diesel engines, as well as a pure electric e-C4. First up, petrol power.

Fast Facts

Citroen C4 Pure Tech 130 SHINE
Price £24,005
129bhp 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine
6-speed manual gearbox
0-62mph in 8.9 seconds
Combined economy 47.3 to 54.7mpg
Emissions 120 to 135g/km CO2
BIK 27%

There are three petrol engines on offer, the other two boasting 99 and 153bhp. The test car’s mid spec engine performs well and is blessed with a pleasant off-beat 3-cylinder soundtrack. There is a little low speed lethargy, but once on the move the plucky turbocharged motor seems to have plenty to give.

A light clutch and delightfully smooth six-speed gearbox combine to aid brisk progress and once up to motorway speeds, the C4 is happy to cruise for hour after hour. The cruise control helps take the strain and there is just a little wind and road noise to disturb the calm. Citroen has worked hard to banish unwanted sounds and their efforts seem to have been rewarded.

At low speeds, the steering is overly light which aids manoeuvring, yet it seems to firm up at higher speeds which is welcome.

Citroens of old were renowned for their supreme ride quality and the C4 is a welcome return to form. ‘Progressive cushions’ are fitted to the suspension, their aim being to absorb all the minor imperfections in the road for that magic carpet feeling. And for the most part they succeed, with just the very worst urban craters upsetting the calm a tad.

So, soft suspension must mean roly-poly handling? Well not a bit of it as the car’s body movements are well controlled and quick to settle. There is a little pitch under braking and a modicum of body roll, but it is extremely easy to get into a delightful rhythm on a twisty B-road, while all onboard enjoy the car’s supple ride. Well-judged I would say, especially as this winter seems to have played havoc with our road surfaces and there is probably little money to fix them.

Covering over 300 miles during my week with petrol power, the trip computer read 42.4mpg, a fair result. A brief motorway cruise saw this rise to around 45mpg, not a million miles from Citroen’s WLTP official figures.

Next up the e-C4

Fast Facts

Citroen e-C4 SHINE
Price £31,845 after the government grant
136bhp
50kW Lithium-ion battery
0-62mph in 9 seconds
Top speed 93mph
Range up to 217 miles
BIK 0
8 year/100,000 battery warranty

We have already established that the C4 is a relaxing and refined car to drive and inserting an electric motor under the sculptured bonnet only improves matters. The cabin is even more hushed and although not the most powerful EV on the market, there is ample power for a relaxed drive.

Fully charged from my 7kW wallbox, the maximum range available never topped 200 miles. Electric cars are best suited to an urban environment and living in the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales, with fast free-flowing roads, the available range was somewhat disappointing. My first local run of 37 miles used up 67 miles of range, and I was driving rather more gently than usual.

Let’s just say that after a hundred or so miles I was starting to experience a little range anxiety, not a pleasant feeling.

If you are lucky enough to be able to find a 100kW charger, a boost from 0 to 80% should take just half an hour and in an emergency, you can use a 13amp socket, though expect to wait over twenty-four hours if you want a full charge.

It was interesting to compare the ride comfort of the two test cars. The e-C4 with its heavy batteries seemed to ride a tad more smoothly, but there is little to choose between them and much to praise.

The C4 interior majors on comfort, which doubtless will come as no surprise. Seats as yielding as your favourite armchair would best sum it up, the only downside being a lack of lateral grip if you are pressing on. I also missed some adjustable lumber support, a slight omission on an otherwise well-equipped car.

Taller rear seat passengers might find they lack enough head and leg room. Boot space is 380 litres, expandable to 1,250 with the rear seats folded down.

The interior plastics are mostly decent quality, but a little more colour would not go amiss to break up the sea of grey.

A central touchscreen controls the car’s infotainment system, and I was delighted to note that the heating and ventilation are operated by proper rotary knobs, as it used to be – bravo!

There is also a smaller customizable display in front of the driver, a nice touch.

The four trim levels are Sense, Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus. My shiny cars seemed to come with everything you could possibly need, no plus required.

What’s not to like? Well, there seems to be a new trend in not fitting a rear windscreen wiper. I assume there is a miniscule aerodynamic advantage. The downside is reduced visibility in low-speed manoeuvring and no means of wash/wiping a dirty window. The C4 compounds this with split rear glass with a spoiler across the middle. Black mark.

So, after two weeks of C4 motoring I have come away rather impressed. The lasting memory is one of comfort and refinement, a pleasant change and a very welcome one. My rural high mileage lifestyle is not best suited to electric power, but the petrol engine as tested offers a decent blend of performance and economy. And don’t forget that there are even diesel engines available, though I suspect UK sales will be modest.

Far more memorable and distinctive than its predecessor, the new C4 is set fair to challenge the established best sellers in the class. And with garage forecourts about to reopen, why not take one for a test drive and see what you think. You may well be pleasantly surprised.