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Citroen C4 Test Drive Review

Date: 25 February 2015   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,090
Key rival: Ford Focus
On sale: April 2015
Equipment:8 airbags, Bluetooth, 16in alloys, DAB radio, rear parking sensors, cruise control
Engines: 100hp/130hp 1.2 petrols 100hp/120hp 1.6 and 150hp 2.0 diesels
Trims: Touch, Feel, Flair
Transmissions: 5-spd manual, 6-spd manual, 6-spd automatic

If the Citroen's new standalone sister DS brand is to specialise in making sporty, stylish and innovative cars in the future, where does that leave poor Citroen?

"Back where it started," according to one insider for the French marque, who said it will shun sportiness and shift its focus to making cars that are comfortable, efficient and affordable; cars like the recent C4 Cactus.

But what about existing models like the C4?

With 450,000 sold since 2010, the C4 will soldier on until its replacement arrives in 2017. To help it last and live up to Citroen's new philosophy, it's had the mildest of facelifts, only receiving new front and rear LED lamps. Inside, a new, centrally mounted seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, keyless go, and new safety tech such as blind-spot detection distinguish new from old.

It's under the bonnet where Citroen has invested most of the development budget. In comes three new, or significantly revised, engines. Kicking off the range is a little 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol (badged Puretech) that is available with either 100hp or 130hp. More desirable for those running a C4 for business will be the 1.6-litre diesel that's now Euro6-compliant and offered with either 100hp or 120hp. Finally, there's a range-topping 150hp 2.0-litre diesel.

We decided to stick with the 120hp diesel (badged Blue HDI 120) that, crucially, has emissions below
100g/km of CO2 making it VED-free. It also averages a fine 78.5 mpg. An even more efficient 100hp version of the same engine is available that averages 85.6mpg while emitting just 86g/km of CO2.
Citroen says it's given up trying to out-handle cars like the dynamically excellent Ford Focus and VW Golf. Instead, it wants to major in comfort, refinement and relaxation.

Cruising confirms the C4 is indeed a quiet place to soak up the miles. Even the occasionally gruff diesel is almost inaudible. What isn't quite as relaxing is the 'new' slow-to-react satnav that feels a generation out of date. The same goes for the familiar interior that lags a fair distance behind newer rivals.

At least the performance offered by the 1.6-litre diesel is decent (0-62mph in 10.8secs). Peeling off the motorway on to our typical A- or B-road - where the Focus or Golf would excel - the C4 feels off the pace initially. There's too much body roll and not enough involvement for the enthusiastic driver, but wind back the pace a little and the Citroen suddenly makes sense.

On its small 16-inch alloys the ride comfort is excellent, while the steering is precise. A drive in the small petrol turbo with the new automatic gearbox was an even more relaxing combination, but that car couldn't come close to matching the 55mpg we averaged over a mixture of hard driving and motorway cruising.
So the C4 is comfortable and efficient, but is it affordable? Sadly, not really.

Again, it's off the pace and all its main rivals beat it for whole-life costs. They might not be quite as comfortable as the C4, but they're all better all-rounders.

Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi 120 Flair

Model price range                               £14,645-£20,045
Residual value                                                     29.2%
Depreciat­ion                                               £13,515        
Fuel                                                                       £3952
Service, maintenance and repair                           £2864
Vehicle Excise Duty                                                     £0
National Insurance                                                £1265
Cost per mile                                                           44.4p
Fuel consumption                                               78.5mpg
CO2 (BIK band)                                          95g/km (15%)
BIK 20/40% per month                                         £48/£95
Warranty                                                   3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max)                                       408 litres
Engine size/power                                      1560cc/120hp


The Citroen C4 majors on comfort, but misses out on costs
  • It's a comfortable and efficient vehicle
  • Others are better to drive and cheaper to run, and the satnav feels ancient