What Is It?
This is the Citroen C4, a midsized family hatchback competing in what is known in the industry as the ‘C-segment’. This is the classical 5-door heartland, containing the likes of the long-accepted standard-bearer in the class, the Volkswagen Golf, as well as vehicles as diverse as the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra, the Peugeot 308, the Renault Megane, the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Civic, the Hyundai i30, the SEAT Leon and the Skoda Octavia… we could even go on and list a few more here, but you get the gist.
However, the C4 rides quite high and has black-plastic lower body cladding and is, occasionally, referred to as a crossover. So you could also consider some niche off-road-biased vehicles as rivals, namely the Ford Focus Active, the Kia Xceed and the Mazda MX-30. In essence, then, the Citroen C4 is a bit of an enigma – is it a plain hatchback with rugged styling, or is it a pseudo-crossover-SUV trying to muscle in on the Golf class?
Either way, the Citroen’s main focus is on being as comfortable as it can be. The C4 is not a car designed to be sporty in the slightest, so don’t go expecting some road-rocket range-topper model with 300hp. In fact, the entire line-up has power outputs of between 101- and 155hp, so nothing extraordinary. But there is a fully electric version, called the e-C4, bringing a bit of star quality to the range. This is a vehicle which looks almost identical to the regular petrol and diesel models, only it has light-blue exterior detailing, whereas the internal combustion cars have silver-grey highlights as standard. Anyhow, should the C4, or even the e-C4, be on your potential shopping list for your next car?
What’s Good About It?
The styling of the Citroen C4 is great, really individual and daring, and like nothing else on sale. There are smashing details everywhere you look, such as the rear lamp clusters which merge into contour lines running along the sides of the car, or the spoiler which bisects the rear windscreen, or that swoopy, coupe-like roofline, or the big chunky door sills. Citroen offers some funky colours for the C4, as well, and the result is a vehicle which has an idiosyncratic yet deeply appealing style all of its own.
What Could Be Better?
For all the design flair of the exterior, the interior of the Citroen C4 is very bland and dark. There are 2 interior ambiences which aim to lift the mood, and it’s not as if anything feels particularly cheaply made nor badly laid-out, but the C4 and e-C4 have rather dour, plain fascias without much in the way of the manufacturer’s traditional quirkiness – about the only things breaking up the acres of black plastic are the thin strips of fabric on each door card.
What’s It Like To Drive?
Citroen offers the C4 and e-C4 with petrol, diesel and electric powertrains, and all models are front-wheel drive. For the petrols, they’re all called PureTech and they are all 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbo engines, with either 101hp/205Nm, 131hp/230Nm or 155hp/240Nm. In terms of gearbox choices here, the 101hp engine has a 6-speed manual only, while the 155hp version comes exclusively with an EAT8 automatic 8-speed unit. Only the middle 131hp PureTech has the choice of both, as it is equipped with the 6-speed manual as standard or the EAT8 as an option.
Similarly, the turbodiesels all go under the name BlueHDi and they’re 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engines. There are just 2 different specifications here, though, with a 110hp/250Nm version joined by a more potent 131hp/300Nm model. The 110hp has the 6-speed manual only, while the 131hp C4 BlueHDi comes with the EAT8 automatic instead.
Finally, there’s the e-C4. This junks any internal combustion engine for a 100kW (136hp) e-motor and 50kWh battery pack, giving it a range of 218-219 miles on a single charge. What’s good about this is that the e-C4 sacrifices no interior space nor does it look massively different on the outside – the key giveaway is that the surrounds of the front foglamps and those trapezoid details in the front door sills are finished in Anodised Blue on the e-C4, while the badging on the boot also reflects its planet-saving nature.
No C4, electric or otherwise, is what you’d call fast. The slowest, the 101hp petrol, takes 11.3 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill, while the fastest is the 155hp PureTech with an 8.5-second sprint. However, both the petrol and the diesel engines are reasonably sweet, revving out smoothly and never sounding harsh, while both gearboxes are also pleasant to operate.
The e-C4 provides the quietest and most luxurious-feeling driving experience, due to its lack of a combustion engine, but because it is by far and away the heaviest C4 of the lot – clocking in at 1561kg when the next chunkiest model, the 131hp BlueHDi, is more than 200kg lighter at 1324kg (and the lightest C4 of all weighs just 1209kg) – it is also no great shakes in the corners. But then, no C4 is; Citroen has gone after a comfortable ride first and foremost here, which means there’s more body roll and a fuzzier chassis set-up on the C4 than there is on pretty much any comparable rival. It’s not a car which enjoys attacking a series of corners with vim and vigour.
That said, the Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension works wonders at giving the C4 and e-C4 a supple, relaxing ride. On the motorway, these Citroens are a delight to travel in, as not only is the damping soft and forgiving – without making the car feel like it has loose body control – the C4’s shape makes it quiet for wind noise blowing around the cabin. There’s also acoustic insulation around the upper cabin to cut out excessive road noise too. In short, you choose a Citroen C4 or e-C4 because you’re not in a hurry and you like the more comfortable things in life; and for that, this French hatchback meets its brief brilliantly.
How Practical Is It?
While the interior might not be the most visually arresting in this class, Citroen has done a lot of good work in making the C4/e-C4’s interior highly practical and useful. For starters, all models have a 380-litre boot with all seats in play and up to 1250 litres of space with the second row folded down – this counts for the e-C4 as much as the petrol and diesel C4s, which is good because usually electric/part-electric cars have to sacrifice interior room to store big battery packs and the like.
Furthermore, passenger room is good in the back – even headroom, and this is a particularly big tick in the pros column of the C4, given its swooping roofline. Then, alongside the usual array of useful storage cubbies, large door pockets and cupholders, the Citroen has a drawer in the passenger-side dashboard which can be pulled out and used as a flat table for an iPad or similar – that’s a very neat touch.
OK, so the C4’s infotainment system isn’t the easiest to use on the move, as the car could do with a few more intuitive, physical buttons for certain key controls (specifically for the climate system), but in general the Citroen is a notably practical car all round. The one final, minor black mark is that rear visibility isn’t great, thanks to the spoiler sitting laterally across the back window.
How Much Will It Cost Me?
The Citroen C4 and e-C4 are both priced competitively for their segment, albeit the electric model is quite a bit more expensive to lease than the petrol or diesel versions. There are 4 main specifications for the C4 family, which are Sense, Sense Plus, C-Series Edition and Shine Plus. Even base models are well equipped, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, front fogs and daytime running lights, tinted side windows, Advanced Comfort Suspension, dual-zone climate control, cruise control with a speed limiter, high-level acoustic insulation, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, a leather multifunction steering wheel, split-folding rear seats, a 5.5-inch TFT instrument cluster and a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and also lots of safety gear like Active Safety Brake, Lane Keep Assist, In-Crash Braking, Speed Limit Information, Driver Attention Alert and Forward Collision Warning.
You only have to step up 1 level from basic Sense to enjoy more luxuries like a reversing camera, electrically folding exterior mirrors, and Connected Nav for a high-definition version of the 10-inch infotainment system, while top-grade C4s boast items such as wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, Intelligent Beam Headlights, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, and also Blind Spot Detection, among more.
In terms of running costs, the zero-emission e-C4 is the obvious winner, with charging times as quick as 30 minutes on a 100kW DC connection for 0-80% battery. The standard 7.4kW AC onboard charger (OBC) will replenish the car from 0-100% charge in 7 hours 30 minutes on a wallbox, but there’s an option to increase that to an 11kW OBC if you have 3-phase electrics at your home, which will reduce the AC charging time to around 5 hours. Plug the e-C4 into the mains with a 3-pin plug, however, and it will take more than 24 hours to fully replenish the battery pack.
With its 219-mile official range, the e-C4 is decent in terms of 1-shot driving capability, but if you need more from your Citroen then the petrol and diesel models are well worth a look. The PureTech petrols will give anything from 44- to 55mpg, with CO2 emissions of 120-145g/km, while the BlueHDi variants are really frugal – expect 59.1-69.1mpg from either version, with CO2 pegged at just 113-125g/km.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Citroen made a round of revisions to the C4 and e-C4 in 2021, one of which was to improve the real-world range of the electric model. Now, the official WLTP range remains at 219 miles, but what this means in essence is that you should get much closer to that number in reality than you would do prior to the 2022 model year updates.
What Alternatives Should I Look At?
The Ford Focus Active is a similarly jacked-up hatchback that has a far sharper chassis than the Citroen C4.
The Xceed is a derivation of the Ceed – it’s fine, but not very exciting in any regard.
Unusual midsized crossover-SUV is better thought of as an evolution of the brilliant Mazda3 hatchback.
The Vanarama Verdict: 8/10
"The styling of the Citroen C4 is great, really individual and daring, and like nothing else on sale. There are smashing details everywhere you look..."
3 Things To Remember About The Citroen C4:
Has a fully electric option
Heavily prioritises comfort over speed
Outside is daring, inside is dull