Citroen dares you to be different by choosing from its C4 range. Given this car is up against the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, it couldn’t be further from its rivals' take on normal. Instead, the C4 and electric e-C4 take a coupe-esque SUV line with their styling, while the drive majors on comfort. Sounds odd. And it actually is, in endearingly Citroen fashion. But should you go for petrol or battery power?
Citroen has long been building cars that people point at, sometimes in a good way - but not always. Fortunately the C4 falls into the good camp thanks to looks that stand out for their bold visuals; occasionally Citroen design can make the cars appear like they’ve just driven away from a medium speed impact. Think of the new C4 as a hatchback with a more sloping tailgate to give a coupe-like profile, then all lifted a bit higher off the ground for a touch of SUV appeal. Voila! You have the C4.
Inside, it’s even better in the style stakes as you get a cabin that is not another bland version of the main contenders. Instead, there’s a large asymmetrical infotainment screen, comfily squishy seats, and decent space. Crucially, all of this is the same whether you choose a petrol, diesel or electric version of the C4. Citroen has ‘normalised’ electric power by simply making it another power option for the C4, though it does call this model the e-C4. The EV model doesn’t have class-leading range or performance, but it does offer enough to question the need to choose a petrol model.
A big part of the appeal of the C4 and e-C4 is that Citroen has made them virtually indistinguishable. Whip out your fine-tooth comb and you’ll find some ‘e-C4’ badges on the electric model’s exterior. Even the charging port is where you’d expect to find the fuel filler flap, which means you don’t have to park nose-in when connecting to a charge station. Sounds like a small detail, but it makes pulling away safer and many companies insist on reversing into parking spaces.
Settle into the cabin and the only real separation is noted in the battery-powered model’s dash display, which shows battery range and charge in its digital display in place of the petrol model’s rev counter.
The real difference lies under the skin of the e-C4. It shares its basic platform with the Vauxhall Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208. By adapting the platform in a Lego-like building block manner, Citroen has made this base a little longer for the e-C4. And like its cousins, the batteries live under the floor, grouped under the rear seat bench and front chairs so they don’t impact on passenger legroom.
Under the bonnet, the electric motor drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission, so it works just like the petrol’s automatic in the real world. Selecting Drive or Reverse is simple with the same small toggle lever as used in the petrol models.