Citroen’s C4 hits the crowded area of the motoring world inhabited by Ford Focus
Jim McCauley put the French maker’s cars through its paces to see how it fares
More conformist in its styling but retaining Citroen character, the new C4 has softened in appearance while adding quality and technical innovation in this latest evolution.
The sharp-edge lines of the outgoing model relax to a rounder and stronger profile in a car that is overall slightly larger but lighter than its predecessor. Providing the power is a range of three petrol engines codeveloped with BMW, and four HDi diesel units offering outputs from 90hp to 155hp, all with low CO2 emissions.
Driven at the car’s recent UK launch were two of the potential top sellers — the range opening 1.6 HDi diesel and the mid-range 1.6 VTi petrol model, both driving through five-speed manual gearboxes.
While most of the competitors safely evolve the previous design, it is refreshing to see that Citroen has the courage and competence to offer a totally new solution and produce a shape that is different yet maintains the company character.
But there are further attractions, the overriding one of which is quality, expressed in both the solidity of the exterior design and the interior material choice and detailing.
With this market sector comprising mainly ‘one-car’ families the ability to fine tune the driving position for more than one driver is important and the new C4 offers reach and rake adjustment on the steering column, driver’s seat height adjustment and a vernier backrest movement for precise positioning.
The range opening diesel model is the bottom choice of the 90hp, 110hp and 150hp engines but this 1.6 litre unit offers surprisingly brisk on-road response while its benchmark 0-62 mph time appears faster than the stated 12.9 seconds. Power delivery is smoothly applied and there is no intrusion of a heavy diesel sound.
The suspension is well insulated, contributing to the cabin refinement, while overall ride is smooth and settled. With excellent flexibility between gears, A gear efficiency indicator — standard on all models — advises on the best time to change in order to maximise fuel consumption. Taking account of this will help the frugal owner approach the official figure of 67.3 mpg on the combined cycle while a low CO2 emissions of 110 gms/km means annual road tax of just £20.
For those who prefer petrol power under the bonnet, the mid-range 1.6 litre VTi provides a balance of performance with economy from its 120hp engine. This model sits midway between the 95hp and 155hp units, and provides excellent refinement and good uptake through the gears, with the initial acceleration time from rest to 62 mph taking 10.8 seconds. A CO2 emissions of 143 gms/km puts this model in Band F for annual road tax of £125.
Front cabin accommodation is generous and rear room is particularly good in all respects including excellent access. Luggage space boasts the best in class at 408 litres while sensible cabin storage abounds including pockets on the rear doors.
Instrumentation is dominated by a central speedometer with analogue rim display and inset digital readout.
On the safety front, the new range has achieved the maximum five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating while twin front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the range.
All models also come with electronic stability program, hill-start assist and cruise control with speed limiter. Citroen offer a blind-spot monitoring system, cornering lights, reversing sensors and its eTouch emergency and assistance system which automatically or manually makes emergency calls identifying the vehicle’s exact position in the event |of an accident. The system also enables drivers to monitor their driving patterns and fuel consumption, and to receive advice on how to improve their fuel economy.