Citroen C4 X review

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Citroen redefines what a compact family saloon can look like with this C4 X. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

The C4 X is 'the best of a hatchback, with the modernity of an SUV and the timelessness of a saloon', according to Citroen. Or you could simply see it as a sedan version of the brand's quirky C4 hatch. Either way, it's an ambitiously styled EV or combustion-powered four-door family saloon that's compact yet spacious, with a simply enormous boot.

Background

X seems to mean different things to different brands. Citroen doesn't see the letter as designating an SUV. Instead, for them, it references what the brand calls 'the crossroads of different universes', a melding together of different genres, the sort of thing we've already seen in the company's large C5 X. With the C4 X, the styling brief was rather less ambitious, but it still hopes to blend hatchback, crossover and sedan genres together into one appealing compact shape that at first glance, could fall into any of those three categories.

We've seen something similar (but rather more dramatic) with cousin Stellantis Group Gallic brand Peugeot's 408, but the C4 X is a more straightforward design that sits on a different, simpler, CMP platform and is offered with a wider variety of powertrains, available in petrol, diesel or full-electric forms. As you might expect, everything is based on the C4 hatch, but from the B-pillar back, things are a great deal more spacious and interesting. Let's take a closer look.

Driving Experience

The C4 X does of course drive just like the C4 hatch and, as with that car, the brand hopes that the way this car rides is what will sell it to you. It features a clever Progressive Hydraulic suspension set-up. Here, the car's springs and shock absorbers work in concert with hydraulic compression and rebound stops, which are supposed to slow body movement over bumps and tarmac tears. You'll want to know about the engines. There's the brand's usual PureTech 1.2-litre 3 cylinder petrol unit, available in two states of tune with 100hp (manual) or 130hp (EAT8 automatic) options. Bravely given the current zeitgeist, Citroen also offers the 130hp version of its usual 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel, available only with an 8-speed automatic.

The e-C4 X model comes in two forms. The first version has the older Stellantis Group EV powertrain system - a 50kWh battery and a 136hp electric motor, with a driving range of 219 miles. With this, 62mph from rest takes 9.5s on the way to a modest 93mph top speed. You'd prefer though, if possible to stretch to the newer package, which pairs a slightly larger 54kWh battery with a faster 156hp motor to offer a driving range WLTP-rated at up to 260 miles. Like all EVs, the e-C4 X can recover energy when decelerating or braking. And there are three drive modes - 'Eco', 'Normal' and 'Sport' - that can vary the level of engine power and the energy draw from the air conditioning to boost driving range. The e-C4 X has a 'Brake' feature to amplify the deceleration of the car without pressing the brake pedal. This set-up allows for the recovery of energy when slowing the car and allows the driver to partially recharge the battery and increase driving range.

Design and Build

True to its name, the C4 X is what Citroen describes as a 'cross design' - an integration of a Fastback saloon body onto the raised hatchback-cum-crossover design of the C4 hatch. Everything at the front is the same as that hatch showroom stablemate. But from the B-pillar back, a different roof line takes over and there's an extra 240mm of length. This accommodates a large 510-litre boot (much bigger than the 380-litres you get in the C4 hatch). And a small duck tail-like spoiler with distinctive LED lights designed to look like arrows pointed towards the centre of the boot lid.

Inside, unsurprisingly, the front-of-cabin experience is exactly the same as in an ordinary C4 hatch, with a compact digital instrument display facing you from behind the curiously shaped steering wheel. Citroen says though, that the software driving the accompanying 10-inch central infotainment screen is completely new, borrowed from the more upmarket C5 X and allowing for personalisation of the system via customisable widgets. This more up-to-date set-up also gets the digital assistant system with natural voice control activated by the command "Hello Citroen".

And rear seat space? You might hope for an improvement there given the body length increase, but that ignores the fact that this C4 X model's wheelbase length of 2,670mm is unchanged over the hatch. So things are much the same in the back, apart from the fact that headroom is slightly compromised by the sloping rear roof line. In compensation, Citroen claims best-in-class second-row knee room (198mm) and a more reclined (27-degree) rear seatback. Plus the exterior width of 1,800mm means that three people can comfortably sit side-by-side across the rear bench, with a total of 1,380mm of width at the shoulders and 1,440mm at the elbows.

Market and Model

Expect pricing to be the same as that of the C4 hatch, which for the combustion models means a starting figure of around £22,000 for a PureTech 100 petrol manual model with base 'Sense' trim. If you want the PureTech 130 petrol unit or the 1.5 BlueHDi diesel, you'll need to go further up the range - there are plusher 'Sense Plus', 'Shine', 'Shine Plus' and 'E-Series' variants. Budget from just over £25,000 for a PureTech 130 EAT8 automatic; or from just under £29,000 for a BlueHDi 130 EAT8 auto diesel version.

For the e-C4 X, again expect hatch-match pricing, which means a starting figure of around £32,000 for base 'Sense' trim. There are also plusher 'Shine' and 'E-Series' variants offered further up the range. You'll need top 'E-Series' trim for the version with the longer-range 54kWh battery - and that will cost you around £37,000.

To take on key compact similarly-sized EV rivals in the same price bracket, all versions of this C4 X need to be well equipped. They are. Nice touches the include LED ambient lighting on the digital instrument panel. Front passengers benefit from access to Citroën's Smart Pad Support, a retractable tablet holder built directly into the dashboard, which enables the front passenger to make the most of time spent on the move. Below this is a Dashboard Tray, a large sliding drawer with a cushioned action. A popular option will be the large electric opening panoramic sunroof.

A 10-inch central infotainment screen comes with all C4 Xs, as does wireless 'phone charging and 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring connectivity. A superb sound system can be specified too, with Arkamys digital sound processing and 8 speakers. A nice optional touch you might well want to consider is a full-HD camera built into the rear view mirror which can take photos or video stored on a 16GB memory card. Safety-wise, there's no fewer than 20 different driver assistance features, including Highway Driving Assist and a 'level 2' semi-autonomous drive system incorporating Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist.

Cost of Ownership

So, petrol or electric? Of course, to make a proper judgement, you're going to need to peruse the combustion model efficiency figures - which are very class-competitive. The volume PureTech 130 EAT auto C4 variant returns up to 50.3mpg on the combined cycle and up to 130g/km of CO2. As for the BlueHDi diesel version, well the single BlueHDi 130 EAT8 auto 'Shine Plus' model manages up to 64.5mpg and up to 126g/km.

And electric? Well, the Department of Transport tells us that the average motorist in the UK covers 7,400 miles a year, which is the kind of mileage that would cost an e-C4 owner somewhere between £200 and £300 in added electricity charges, powering up from a typical 7.4kW garage wallbox on off peak rates, the variance depending on driving style and different electricity prices (we've assumed 11p per kWh). The same annual mileage in this PureTech petrol model would work out to somewhere between £750 and £820 - and you'd have to factor in more expensive annual garage servicing too.

The e-C4 X charges at up to 100kW and charging times are the same with either the 50kWh or the 54kWh battery. The e-C4 X is fitted with a 7.4kW on-board charger, which can rapid charge to 80% in around half an hour using a 100kW public fast charger. At home, the car will charge from empty in around 7.5 hours using a 7kW garage wallbox. That could fall to just 5 hours if you have a 3-phase home electricity supply and have the car fitted with an optional 11kW on-board charger. As usual with an electric car, to take advantage of lower cost off-peak electricity tariffs, you can manage charging times by using the touchscreen tablet in the passenger compartment or by using the provided 'MyCitroen' app. The charging port features a coloured indicator so the user can monitor the charging process - which can also be followed on the 'MyCitroen' app.

Whatever your choice of C4 X, you'll probably want to keep garage costs in check by opting for the affordable 3 year servicing plan that is available at point of purchase. Finally, there's the usual Citroen three year / 60,000 mile warranty. And the e-C4 X has its own battery warranty - 8 years or 100,000 miles for 70% of charge capacity.

Summary

Citroen really wants this C4 X to be seen as a Coupe-SUV - like Renault's Arkana - which might be a bit of a stretch because it's not clean sheet design like that car; merely an C4 hatch with a rather stylish boot. Still, because that C4 hatch model has a rather crossovery vibe, the C4 X confection kind of works. And the way the stretched rear has been configured means that you get more luggage space than any other compact saloon of this size we can think of.

Fashion and practicality are attributes the C4 X will need because mainstream brand sedans rarely sell well in our market. This one may not break that trend, but the right kind of customer might well like it very much indeed. It delivers the saloon body style Citroen needs in its line-up for Middle Eastern, African and Southern European markets. But there's much wider appeal here. Enough maybe, to make you want to try this car.

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