Citroen C4 – First drive
I had to do a double take when first seeing the new Citroen C4 in the flesh, or the metal, if you like.
I have to admit that one of my favourite looking motors on the market is the Mazda CX, hence the double take at the latest version of the hatchback from Citroen, which looks just as stylish, but still unmistakably a Citroen.
It makes a statement in many ways, taking on such formidable rivals as the Golf, Focus and Astra, not to mention its own stablemate the Peugeot 308. With a choice of petrol, diesel and pure electric versions it is also a vehicle very much designed for comfort.
It has bold styling and a range of power units that include the all-electric ë-C4, which offers a range of 200 miles-plus between charges. It also puts the emphasis on comfort with the firm’s specially padded seats with hydraulic cushions, a softish, but comfortable ride and high quality fixtures and fittings.
The new model also offers 20 driver assistance features, including Highway Driving Assist and a level-two semi-autonomous system that incorporates adaptive cruise control and lane keeping.
Designers have combined hatchback practicality with the bold, muscular styling of a crossover/SUV and swooping, coupe-like sleekness. Add to this stylish, slim LEDs as part of the lighting cluster, together with chunky wheel arches and side cladding and you have a very stylish vehicle.
To the rear it has a sloping rear window and spoiler, which the firm says draws its inspiration from the 2004 C4 Coupé with its original two-piece rear window topped by an aerodynamic spoiler.
Inside too, it offers bold, yet simplistic styling, with the focus being on comfort. The centre point is the familiar 10-inch touchscreen which controls the major functions of the car like infotainment, connectivity and navigation.
The infotainment features Citroen’s navigation system and connectivity is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A full HD camera, which can take photos or video stored on a 16GB memory card, is built into the rear-view mirror.
Controls are supplemented by the flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel.
The cars driven here offer important choices for buyers. The three-cylinder 1.2 litre petrol engine, available in 100, 130 and 155PS power ranges, are gutsy units that give brisk acceleration and good economy, with up to 50mpg claimed while delivering the throaty rasp associated with three pot engines.
The 100kW (136bhp) electric unit also driven here offers typical electric vehicle electric pace, hitting 60mph in just nine seconds, while at the same time offering big savings on fuel costs and both road and benefit in kind tax savings through zero tailpipe emissions, only offset by the still cheap electric charging costs. It has a WLTP range of 217 miles and in common with the EV trend, only slightly different blue flashes and badging distinguishes it from the combustion engine sibling.
In addition, diesel, long associated with the French brand, has not been abandoned either with a 102PS 1.5 litre option offering typical turbo diesel punch and high levels of torque and economy, aimed at those clocking up high mileage. A six-speed manual or eight-speed auto gearbox is offered on combustion models.
Despite its sporty profile, comfort is very much a key factor from the comfortable seats, wide wraparound effect dash and soft touch finish to doors and dash and ambient lighting giving it an upmarket feel.
The comfort of the ride and seating arrangement and uprated sound deadening technology make the car feel refined, with only the rasp of the three pot engine under heavy acceleration. The electric vehicle is virtually silent with only a hint of road noise intruding on poorer road surfaces.
As a hatchback it is practical with a 380 litre boot, where capacity can be increased by folding the rear seats. An additional 16 storage compartments offer an extra 39 litres of space and unique to the C4 and a neat touch, is a retractable system designed to hold a tablet computer, built directly built into the dashboard.
In addition to the entry level Sense petrol starting at £21,000, there are Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus. The EV version will cost a smidge under £30k.
Stylish, economical and with an electric variant, the new C4 has thrown down the gauntlet to the market leaders.