First Drive

First Drive: Citroen e-C4

The story:
Citroen resurrects the C4 nameplate for a slightly raised hatchback that will be offered in petrol, diesel or electric form.
Category:Lower meduim
Key rival:Hyundai Ioniq
MPG:Range: 217 miles
On sale:Early 2021

The C4 nameplate is back, and adorns Citroen’s return to the lower-medium sector of the market, in the shape of a slightly raised five-door that hits the middle ground between being a conventional hatchback and entering the big-selling crossover territory.

The new C4 launches with petrol and diesel powerplants as well as the pure electric model driven here.

The petrols are 110, 130 and 155hp versions of the 1.2-litre turbo, while the diesel alternatives are 110 and 130hp variations of the 1.5-litre engine. This EV is the powertrain already seen in the likes of the Peugeot e-208 and e-2008, and Vauxhall Corsa-e. It’s a 100kW motor mated to a 50kWh battery, offering an official range of 217 miles.

First Drive- December 2020- Citroen e-C4- Image 6The C4 is certainly not a shrinking violet of a design, and has plenty of familiar Citroen styling cues at the front in particular, and also lots going on in terms of creases and lines, especially as you get towards the back of the car. Citroen calls it an energetic and aerodynamic silhouette and an assertive design, and it’s certainly busy, but in general works well. It’s a shame there was the need for the bracing bar across the rear window as it hinders visibility, while also ruling out a rear wiper, which is annoying in winter.

In the cabin, it’s a relief to see a bar of climate control buttons, rather than the settings being embedded into a touchscreen menu, and the interior trim is of decent quality with some attractive gloss black touches in this top-spec Shine Plus model.

First Drive- December 2020- Citroen e-C4- Image 3The C4 is launched under Citroen’s new trim naming system, which runs from Sense and Sense Plus to Shine and Shine Plus trim levels. All cars get the 10-inch central touchscreen and 5.5-inch driver’s cluster, while all electric C4s and all bar the entry-level ICE models get the head-up display, sat-nav and rear camera.

Citroen has long been synonymous with comfort, and the C4 is firmly on that path, whether it be the ICE or electric version. It starts with the very cushioned seats, and from behind the wheel it only takes until the first roundabout to sense quite how comfort-orientated the set-up is. The steering is incredibly light and the car makes it clear it’s not one that’s going to enjoy being hustled along. It feels like the driving experience you’d expect from a taller crossover or SUV. The petrol model also has a slightly rolly ride quality to it that seems to be settled down by the increased weight of the e-C4 and its batteries. It’s not unpleasant, but leads to a feeling that it’s not as cosseting as a C5 Aircross, for example, and takes a little getting used to. There’s no denying this is a comfortable cruiser, not one for back-road blasts.

That at least means the 130hp petrol engine is well equipped to power the C4, and the 155hp version could be deemed unnecessary. The electric powertrain, meanwhile, isn’t quite as punchy as some, as already noted in other PSA applications. But, as with the 130 petrol, it’s enough to keep the C4 busy.

Boot space is adequate rather than outstanding at 380 litres although at least the positioning of the EV’s batteries means it doesn’t suffer a reduction in capacity compared with its internal combustion-engined siblings

paul barker

The verdict

Stand-out styling and a reasonable range for the electric model help make the C4 an eye-catching return to this core fleet segment.