New Citroen C4 is a breath of fresh air

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire.

Road Tested by Hugh Maguire.

Ok let us be really honest here. There are many of you out there who are in the market for say a Toyota Auris, Ford Focus, VW Golf sized car. You know yourself, you want a car that offers space, practicality and reliability, it’s not going to cost the earth to run, in short a good medium sized hatch. So what do you immediately think of? A Focus? An Auris? A Golf? An Astra? The answer is probably all four and maybe then you would add cars like the Peugeot 308, amongst others. Well I have some news for you! The car I have been road testing recently is not only spacious, practical, and reliable but it also has an individuality and flair which leaves the other above mentioned cars in the shade, and furthermore if you are in the market for a five door medium hatch you will be making a really big mistake not to test drive and consider the stunning all new Citroen C4. Why am I so enthusiastic? Because frankly I approached my test drive in the new Citroen C4 with interest but not excitement, yet I handed the car back absolutely convinced (and I have to be a real sceptic as a motoring journalist) that Citroen really have scored a bulls eye with this car.

The New C4 is available in three generously specified trim levels – VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive. There are three HDi diesel engines with 5 or 6-speed manual gearbox and a fuel saving 6-speed EGS, plus two BMW co-developed petrol units with a 5-speed manual gearbox. My test car this week is the new C4 VTR+ Hdi 5-speed manual.

First Impressions

The new C4 is one very good-looking car. It has real individuality and flair and I really like that. This really is a stylish and distinctive looking 5-door hatch that stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Judicious use of chrome trim and attractive alloy wheels set off the bold new look very well indeed.

Behind The Wheel

The cabin is very well finished while the solid feel of all the switches and levers creates a feeling of real quality. The driving position is perfect with height adjustment for both front seats and a reach/rake adjustable steering. Accommodation both front and rear is excellent and the new C4 boasts a class leading 408 litre boot, with of course split fold rear seats and I am delighted to say a full sized spare wheel! A must for the Irish market. So full marks here go to Citroen.

Boasting a EURO NCAP 5-Star top safety rating Citroen have really done well here too. Standard equipment across all models is very good and beats most of its rivals. There are multiple airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, hill start assist, electric windows, climate control, remote audio controls, a CD player, which is MP3 compatible and an AUX port, a trip computer, multifunction steering wheel which includes a button for the interior lighting and a Black Panel button which switches off all instruments except the speedo for minimum distraction. Citroen offer a host of options from a Lane Departure Warning System, to massage seats allowing buyers to personalise their cars as suits their needs.

Performance

The 1.6 litre HDI diesel is available in either 90 or 110 bhp versions. My test car was powered by the 90 bhp Hdi engine mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Performance is good with a good deal of mid range torque available for overtaking. It cruises happily all day at motorway speeds and the unit proves genuinely quiet and refined.

It is particularly impressive on economy consuming just 5.8 litres of diesel per 100km, giving a range of almost 1,000km between refuels while the low emissions of just 110g/km means it costs just €104 to tax!

Road Behaviour

The ride is typically Citroen, excellent! Now in the past Citroen could be accused of making cars that ride well but are very soft on the road with the resultant mushy handling. The new C4 seems to manage to blend a very nice mixture of good ride comfort and good handling. Its not as stiff as say a Ford Focus, and on the limit the Focus would out-handle it, but who goes to the limit? Noise levels are commendably low and the overall build quality is excellent.

Verdict

Without expecting to be I am really sold on the new C4. It’s technically very advanced, it’s stylish, with a personality and individuality that is conformist enough to appeal yet dares to be a little different. It drives very well and will accommodate 4 adults with ease, and 5 at a tighter fit, added to which there is a decent sized boot.

Yes this car is really worth putting on your shopping list. Prices start at €18,990 for the petrol VTI manual. The Citroen C4 VTR+ HDI 90 bhp as tested costs a competitive €21,790.