The skinny: Not quite cutting edge, not quite premium - the updated ‘three-cylinder-only’ Citroen C4 is something of a niche in the busy small hatch market. Citroen knows it won’t sell up a storm, it has a very specific buyer in mind, but those buyers will love the result.
Vehicle Style: Small hatch
Price: $29,990 - $33,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 96kW/230Nm 1.2 litre 3cyl turbo petrol | 6spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 8.2 l/100km
The range is now down to one powertrain - a 1.2 litre turbocharged three cylinder, tied to a six-speed automatic. No manual. No diesel.
Citroen hopes that this will be something of a recipe for success. Not that it expects to top sales charts, this car represents more of a holding pattern.
Existing customers are the focus, so stripped out, price leading models are off the roster.
Instead the more upscale Seduction entry level comes in at $29,990. And, according to Citroen there’s $5500 of extra value packed into its skin.
The upscale Exclusive at $33,990 is $1500 more expensive than before, but offers $5000 extra value.
The new C4 looks awfully close to the earlier version. There are new head and tail-lights, and a new touchscreen inside, but little else to tell it apart.
Comfort is the C4’s selling point - yes, comfort. We can report that the C4 Exclusive delivers just that, in ways no other car in its class does.
- Seduction: Automatic dual zone A/C, automatic headlights & wipers, electrically folding door mirrors, electrochromatic rear view mirror, sliding centre armrest with storage, leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons, cruise control with speed limiter and memory, privacy glass, 16-inch alloy wheels.
- Exclusive: (in addition to Seduction) black half leather trim, massaging driver’s seat, proximity key and push button start, panoramic fixed glass roof, electrically folding door mirrors with reverse gear mirror dip & memory function, rear seat ski flap, 17-inch alloy wheels.
- Infotainment: 7-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, 8GB music storage, MP3 CD radio with six speakers with Bluetooth, USB & AUX jack.
- Cargo volume: Minimum 380 litres, maximum 1183 litres.
The interior of the C4 is an exercise in tasteful restraint. There are no sweeping changes for the most part, but the soft-touch dash and classic instrument cluster didn’t need work anyway.
The biggest change comes via the new touchscreen infotainment system - similar to the system found in the Peugeot 308. It’s arrival sees 13 buttons removed from the centre stack for a cleaner look.
There are also stand-alone climate controls, a welcome change from the integrated controls of Citroen’s touchscreen-equipped C4 Picasso people-mover.
Seduction comes with cloth trim and a digital instrument cluster, while Exclusive features partial leather with a driver’s seat massage function, and digital/analog instrumentation with customisable colours.
Full leather seat trim, seat heating, and a passenger massage function is available for $2500 on Exclusive.
Ergonomically the C4 feels a little less than ideal; both the short and ‘long of leg’ at the launch found the driving position a touch compromised.
There’s a big difference in height between the accelerator and the brake, the reach adjustment for the steering stops a little short, and the seat could adjust lower.
No such qualms with seating comfort however. The rich feeling jersey fabric looks top notch, and the grippy side bolsters hold passengers just right.
There’s plenty of rearward seat travel too, which can eat into rear seat space a little if pushed back too far. Otherwise the rear seat is a pleasant-enough place to travel.
Boot space is unchanged at 408 litres (including under-floor storage), increasing to a maximujm of 1183 litres with the seats folded. Front door pockets can hold a bottle up to 1.5 litres, but the glovebox is still criminally compact.
ON THE ROAD
- 96kW/320Nm 1.2 turbo petrol in-line three cylinder
- Six-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
- MacPherson strut front suspension, independent trailing-arm rear suspension
- Four-wheel disc brakes, vented front, solid rear.
- Electro hydraulic power steering
Despite sitting at the lower end of the small car power scale, the 1.2 litre PureTech engine offers a convincing amount of shove to move the C4 around with.
Citroen admits this is far from a hot-, or even warm-hatch, as reflected by a 0-100km/h time of 10.9 seconds. Outputs are rated at 96kW of power at 5500rpm, and 230Nm of torque at 1750rpm.
That healthy torque figure is the key ingredient - at no point does the C4 feel short of breath. Prod the throttle and the C4 responds with faithful, if not blistering, acceleration.
Comfort is the C4’s apparent raison d'être and every system in the car works in harmony to deliver comfort aplenty.
Starting with the smooth running, and eerily quiet, engine that maintains its composure all the way to red-line. Revised engine mounts and body sealing help in this regard too.
There’s a soundproofing layer added to the windscreen as well.
Tyre noise is the only detectable intrusion, even then the noise is present but not excessive. It’s just the most audible noise spectrum in an otherwise hushed cabin.
Suspension is set up for a cushy ride, some of the roads we encountered were about as rough as you’ll find, but the C4 never faltered. Far from being wallowy though, the C4 handles unsettled surfaces surprisingly deftly.
On our mostly sodden drive, we found the C4 was not short of grip and would cling to corners with considerable tenacity and had no trouble holding a ‘tight’ line. This is a return to the kind of suspension tune the French are known for.
Thanks to its new, lighter engine and transmission, the C4 is some 105kg lighter than its petrol-powered predecessor (and 125kg lighter than the discontinued diesel). Revised springs and dampers have been fitted to accompany the weight loss.
The last piece of the puzzle in the C4’s transformation is the new Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic.
Quick between gears, and almost like a dual-clutch for smoothness of shift, this is the gearbox the C4 has needed for a long time.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.89 out of 37 possible points. Note, this rating is unchanged from the 2011 C4
Safety features: Safety kit includes six airbags (dual front, dual side impact, full length curtain) as well as electronic stability and traction control, rear park sensors, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, and hill start assist.
Blind spot monitoring, an automatic electric park brake, front park sensors, and a reversing camera are included on Exclusive while a reverse camera can be added to Seduction for $1000.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The C4 lines up against upscale variants of some of some well-known and popular cars In Australia. Most offer more powerful engines, but in terms of specification and comfort, the C4 is at least in the ballpark.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The most compelling impression of the C4 is found in one word: “comfort”.
As promised by Citroen, this car really is incredibly comfortable. Smooth, quiet, and fuss-free at the wheel - that small number of buyers who find their way into a Citroen showroom will find it just the thing to unwind with on the busy commute to and from work.
If you’re after sharp looks, racy handling, or high-tech toys - look elsewhere.
The C4 is deliberate in its sophisticated execution and it shows - it won’t steal sales from Corolla, i30, or Golf, but it will reward Citroen traditionalists who value refinement.
Not for everyone, nor was it intended to be, but the C4 nonetheless does what it does well.
Those looking for more excitement might instead be better served by the innovative C4 Cactus compact SUV due early next year.
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