ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: CITROEN C4
Packed with technology and driver aids, Citroen’s C4 is full of pleasant surprises, but as DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk discovered, one of the best is a cracking hi-fi system by Denon.
LIVING with the Citroen’s C4 for a few days has thrown up several surprises and left me thoroughly impressed with this new model which is perfectly capable of going head-to-head with its class leading Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra rivals.
That the car looks very good almost goes without saying, and it’s simple but effective design somehow provides your eyes with more to look at than some of its plain Jane rivals, yet it achieves its easy-on-the-eye appeal in an unfussy way. Perhaps other brands are trying to be too clever with their styling.
Citroen’s trademark chevron grille at the front of the car, for example, creates some interesting lines and shapes, while the back of the car also a that “je ne sais quoi”. On the Exclusive grade I tested, the whole effect is finished off with a roof spoiler and some very smart alloy wheels.
The first real surprise, however, was the build quality. It’s excellent, from the clean and uniform panel gaps, to the interior fixtures and fittings, everything looks and feels top notch. The one-piece dashboard top is soft to the touch and attractively finished, while the dashboard design is most agreeable.
The instrumentation is clearly designed and easy to read at a glance, but the surprise was not just the attractive blue illumination, but the fact that you could alter its shade in four steps, from pale to dark blue, through to white, if you prefer it that way.
I was glad to see Citroen has dispensed with the weird steering wheel arrangement on the previous model, where the centre of the wheel was fixed, while the rim rotated around it. The steering wheel on this car follows the usual convention, and is better for it.
All the bells and whistles you would expect are included, and on the Exclusive trim grade I’ve been testing, that included a good sat-nav system with a large screen mounted high in the centre console, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and a speed limiter and cruise control system, and even heated front seats which would massage your lower back.
Another pleasant surprise was the excellent Denon sound system – a name that will need no introduction to hi-fi aficionados, and represents the first such tie-up between the two companies. It includes four specially developed woofers, four tweeters, a digital amplifier and a sub-woofer in the boot. It’s comes with the eMyWay sat-nav, Bluetooth and MP3 system as a £1,190 option in the C4, but the massive sub-woofer in the boot can certainly make its presence felt and the overall sound quality is superb. If you like your music, it’s definitely worth the money.
The new C4 range costs from £15,595 and rises to £21,495 for the range-topping 2.0HDi 150hp Exclusive I’ve been testing. Buyers have a choice of three trim levels, VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive.
There are four HDi diesel engines, and three petrol engines which have been co-developed with BMW. Designed to maximise economy and minimise C02 emissions, every manual model features a gear change indicator which is prominently located in the left-hand display and prompts the driver to change up or down the gearbox at the ideal moment. Five or six speed manual gearboxes are available, as are automatic versions, depending on the buyer’s preference.
The driving experience is very good, and the model I tested, with its 150bhp HDi diesel engine provided plenty of mid-range punch, and returned an overall average of around 47mpg in mixed driving during a Bank Holiday weekend away.
There are no complaints about the car’s handling either, with very composed road manners and assured cornering, the C4 is a comfortable place to be – and there is very little noise inside the cabin from outside influences like the road surface.
The C4 is a helpful car to live with, and will even help you find a suitable space to park it in by measuring the size of a parking space to see if it can squeeze into the available gap. Once you find a large enough space, front and rear parking sensors, when fitted, will help you manoeuvre.
The C4 range is equipped with an electric parking brake, which is the latest thing and can be found on a lot of new models. At first they take a bit of getting used to, but I didn’t have any complaints with this application, and the hill start assist function also proved useful.
Another option which will appeal to the techies out there is Citroën’s on-board WiFi system which uses a 3G/3G+ SIM card to create a wireless network in the car which provides a continuous internet connection – really handy for junior gamers in the back on a long journey.
Packed with technology, good to drive and a real pleasure to live with, the Citroen C4 has a lot to commend it, and I am happy to do so.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Citroen C4 Exclusive HDi 6-speed manual.
CITROEN C4 RANGE: From 1.4i VTi VTR 5dr (£15,750) to 2.0 HDi (150) Exclusive 5dr (£21,645).
ENGINE: 1997cc, 150bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 130g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 129mph. 0-62mph in 8.6secs.
ECONOMY: City: 42.8mpg.
Fuel tank: 60 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 23.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.