Citroen C4 review

Citroen's shapely, hi-tech C4 charms - June Neary

Will It Suit Me?

I warmed to Citroen's original C4. Its shape was a refreshing change from the usual rather dull designs that populate the family hatchback sector. This improved second generation model doesn't look quite so radical but it's still very attractive, the 'tech' is even higher than before and quality seems to have come on in leaps and bounds.

Practicalities

Although bigger than the car it replaces, the latest C4 is no heavier than the first generation model, despite all the safety kit that's on board. The rather agreeable upshot is that interior space and stowage room are both more than class competitive. What I really like however, is the way that Citroen has improved the build quality and finish and tried to build in features more often seen on luxury cars - laminated side window glass for example. Detail touches include being able to alter the backlighting behind the dashboard controls to suit your preferences. Plus sound alerts which can also be changed to your taste, in the same way that you can modify your mobile phone's ring-tone. For me, one slight disappointment inside is the absence of the unusual fixed steering wheel boss, which on the MK1 C4, carried most of the car's key switches and was a really unusual touch. You turned the wheel and the switches stayed static. Citroen says that it ditched this in the interests of saving 3.5kgs in weight: I think it's more likely that buyers just couldn't get used to it. Whatever the truth, this second generation C4 does deliver a very smart cabin indeed. As for the styling, well it's not as dramatic - evolutionary rather than revolutionary - but it is growing on me. I particularly like the way the long styling lines on the side flow into a neat clamshell bonnet highlighted by the familiar double-Chevron badge. The chrome highlights and revamped headlights still manage to mark the car out from the crowd.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, Citroens have always put comfort ahead of handling but the spec sheet suggests that this one may well serve up a slightly more dynamic experience than you might expect, without compromising the relaxed character that has always marked this car out. This C4 does, after all, feature a hi-tech rear suspension set up with flexible transverse beam. The claimed result is minimal bodyroll and good road feel, all of which should be aided by better feedback from the hydraulic power steering. There's traction and ESP electronic stability control too as standard: it's no longer acceptable in this class to limit things like this to the plushest variants. Whether your preference is for diesel or petrol, manual gearshift or automatic, this C4 claims to have it covered. Possibly the engine of choice is the latest e-THP 130 petrol unit, which offers a great balance of performance and economy. Older petrol units are all 1.6-litres in size, with 95, 120 and 155PS options, while the 1.6-litre diesels deliver 90, 115 and 150PS. There's plenty of transmission choice too - the usual five and six-speed manuals and a four-speed auto, plus a clever six- speed clutchless manual gearbox. Whichever C4 package you choose, you should find it a pretty refined one. Citroen have worked hard to deaden noise intrusion with revised soundproofing to deliver new levels of quiet, even going as far as installing an acoustic laminated windscreen with a layer of damping film.

Value For Money

Prices start from around £14,000. Obvious rivals apart from the inevitable Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra models include the Peugeot 308 and Kia cee'd. Potential buyers might also be considering cars like Renault's Megane and Toyota's Auris. Buyers of this Citroen will be choosing between three main trim levels, with the top-end models featuring extras such as a powerful Denon sound system complete with sub-woofer in the boot for a genuine hi-fi experience on the move. Other optional features you wouldn't necessarily expect to find on a car of this class include electric lumbar adjustment and massage seats for driver and front seat passenger. Safety of course is a priority, so there's also the option of blind spot monitoring to stop you lane-changing dangerously in front of another driver, plus programmeable speed limiting and cruise control systems.

Could I Live With One?

This car certainly falls into the category of models I'd buy because I wanted to rather than I had to - and there aren't too many of those in the Family Hatchback sector. To be honest, it deserves to sell in greater numbers than it does. This C4 really does deliver on a lot of levels

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