Citroen C4

| July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

As I am lucky enough to drive many different cars in my job, many people ask me which is my favourite.

This question is, of course, impossible to answer as, similarly to many other people, my favourite car is one that I have never driven and probably isn’t great to drive. However, to my mind it is great to look at and a design classic.

The car that fits that description car is the Citroen DS, and as we are all aware, Citroen has successfully relaunched that iconic range in the shape of the new DS3.

Shortly the company will be launching a DS4 and DS5 to complement it but first they have brought out a more traditional-looking vehicle in the shape of the new C4.

This five-door five-seat family hatchback has the tough task of trying to compete in an incredibly competitive sector that is currently dominated by the Golf, Focus and Astra.

It’s a key sector for the fleet world and it is an area where Citroen has always struggled to make a real impact, with only the recent launch of the excellent C5 finally getting them on to more fleet lists.

Yet I have always found this surprising as, in general, over the past 20 years of driving French cars, I have always favoured Citroens over Peugeots and Renaults – mainly, I have to admit, because of their quirkiness. Having said that there wasn’t much wrong with Peugeot’s 205 GTi, nor the original Renault Megane, which looked like a ladybird, but as I discovered on holiday with two young children 10 years ago, had the most incredible boot space.

I also liked the outgoing C4, particularly from an aesthetic viewpoint, as well as for its quirkiness, but that is an attribute that Citroen has ditched for the new model. Instead the new C4 ticks the box for a more conservative world, with a sensible styling. Having said that, the new model could not be said to be a step back; rather it blows away the old C4. Everything about it feels and looks better and pushes the competition in its class further than any C-sector Citroen that has gone before.

Inside the C4 the cabin is well put together, with nice touches on the instrumentation and a funky dashboard and speedo – quirky still lives, then! The dash and instrument layout is far more user-friendly than the outgoing C4s, with no fixed-hub steering wheel. There’s also more cabin storage space.

Overall, the quality is excellent, save for a rather wimpy glove box door. Seats are comfortable, but not too squishy, like some Citroens of old. There’s also plenty of space in the back for three adults and despite the space there’s no compromise on boot space: a fantastic 408 litres of luggage can be slotted in.

I enjoyed the VTR+, which offers some great extras over the potential best-selling VTR range, including rear parking sensors, a customisable colour instrument panel and 16-inch Boston alloy wheels. The trim on the seats and doors was a little too much for me, but overall this is a quality step up from previous Citroens.

The model tested was the 1.6 petrol engine, which was a little underpowered from start, but excellent on the motorway. The petrol unit I tested averaged 44 mpg, in mostly urban driving.
Citroen has also tried to make the new C4 more comfortable and quieter than its predecessor and it has definitely succeeded. Cabin noise is noticeable by its absence and it is a composed car on the move – it’s a comfortable match for my current car, the Golf.

While I think that the new C4 is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it’s still not the best car in a sector currently dominated by the Golf Mk 6 and awaiting the arrival of the new Ford Focus. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have considerable virtues: it is definitely a mainstream contender from an often left-field manufacturer.

If I were a small fleet manager, I would look most closely at the diesel engine, as the 1.6 HDi offers more punch around town. The new green Citroen e-HDi models are capable of a claimed 67.3 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. The diesel matches the competition in most areas, while the C4 offers something a little different and wouldn’t look out of place on any fleet. For me, I’d like to drive the new DS4, just to see if the designers at Citroen have kept some of the old C4’s idiosyncracies in the new model.

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Category: Citroen

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