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Citroen C4: Test Drive Review

Date: 04 October 2010   |   Author: Guy Bird

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,745
Key rival: Ford Focus

If you've ever been irritated by the 'tick and tock' of your car's indicators plus the other sounds it emits to inform you of this and that, the new Citroen C4 will make you smile.

Users can choose from four sound alert themes: Classic (okay), Crystal Symphony (nice swirly park brake alert but maddening indicator), Urban Rythmik (yes, that is how it's spelt, no, don't) and Jungle Fantasy (more a nightmare). Along with driver dial colours that can be changed from white through to electric blue they represent a fun level of customisation long associated with mobile phones but welcome to cars nonetheless. NB Fleet managers fear not: despite the sound options being quickly accessible via a steering wheel-mounted scroll button the system does not allow drivers to change them on the move.

Unfortunately, almost every other detail about the new C4 is far less remarkable. Yes, the car has a new very quick stop/start system on its e-HDI model that leads to a 109g/km CO2 figure on the 16-inch wheel VTR+ trim (but then the old one managed 115g/km without it). Yes, the interior boasts better quality materials, although within a less modern design, and yes, there are 'segment first' claims including a blind-spot monitor and massaging seats (standard on Exclusive trim). But overall there's little significant to excite - least of all the bland and muddled exterior looks that fail to stand out on the road (or even look smartly restrained, like the VW Golf say). The old model looks fresher, and had a more radical three-door version too, now binned.

Three engines were available to test: the 150hp 2.0 diesel with manual gearbox, and the 155hp 1.6 petrol and 110hp 1.6 e-HDI, both with the clutchless manual Electronic Gear Shift system. All have decent (but not class-leading) ride and handling characteristics with firm-feel steering, but the 2.0 diesel is the most fun to drive by dint of having a reasonable manual gearbox. The other two

engines are hampered by the awful EGS system that makes no obvious improvement on even the old Smart Fortwo's lurch-tastic version. Smooth changes in either 'automatic' mode or via the paddles are very hard to achieve, although Citroen says the EGS beats most conventional manual gearboxes for economy (67.3mpg) and based on the old model's sales, will be chosen by 50% of customers - presumably for tax breaks as there's certainly no other good reason. The better news is the laudable e-HDI models, currently only offered with EGS, will get a manual option during 2011 and a 99g/km version. Unfortunately, the rest of the C4 will still be uninspiring. Surely a punch pulled?

Citroen C4 1.6e-HDi 110hp EGS VTR
P11D price£19,745
Model price range£15,995-£21,500*
Fuel consumption67.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 109g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£43/£86
Service interval2yrs/12,000mls
Insurancegroup 15E*
Boot space (min/max)408/880 litres
Engine size/power1560cc/110hp
Top speed/0-62mph118mph/11.2secs
On sale January 2011
Verdict Competent in many
respects (bar the awful
EGS gearbox) but
outstanding in none.


Competent in many respects (bar the awful EGS gearbox) but outstanding in none.