Citroën C4 hatchback
Price: £13,995 - £20,945
- Big boot
- Great value for money
- Very comfortable
- Dull to drive
- Cramped rear seats
- Sluggish petrol engines
"The Citroen C4 isn’t the most exciting car but it offers good value for money, low running costs, great practicality and comfort."
The Citroen C4 is a family hatchback like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, and is one of the most family-friendly cars in the class. Citroen has worked hard to give the C4 some stand-out in a very crowded and competitive market, and it's done a good job of it. While the C4 may not be anywhere near as good to drive as the Ford Focus, or as high quality as the Volkswagen Golf, it is one of the most comfortable and practical cars of its size – and it's really stylish, too, thanks to a redesign in 2011.
The car has a huge boot, a decent interior and a competitive price tag – although it doesn’t come with as much equipment as a Ford Focus or VW Golf. There is a choice of three specification levels (VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive) and six engines (three diesels and three petrols), one of which is Citroen's e-HDi micro-hybrid system, which offers road tax-free motoring thanks to CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. The rear seats are a little cramped, though, as space has been reduced to make room for the large boot. And all the petrol engines except the top-of-the-range unit feel underpowered and sluggish. But the C4 is still a very decent family workhorse.
MPG, running costs & CO2
C4 has a range of efficient diesel engines
There are three petrol and three diesel engines in the C4 range. The most efficient diesel is the 1.6-litre e-HDi micro-hybrid model, which does 76.3mpg and emits 95g/km of CO2 – making it exempt from road tax. There's also a more powerful 2.0-litre diesel capable of 56.5mpg and 130g/km CO2, and a standard 1.6-litre diesel that does 70.6mpg and 104g/km CO2. The petrol line-up is considerably less efficient and includes a 1.4-litre engine that does 46.3mpg and 140g/km CO2, a 1.6-litre that does 45.6mpg and 143g/km CO2 and a more powerful 1.6-litre that does 44.1mpg and 148g/km CO2. Insurance and servicing costs should prove reasonable, though.
Interior & comfort
The interior is sharply styled and it’s one of the most comfortable cars in its class
The interior of the C4 looks every bit as good as the exterior thanks to a neat and stylish design. The steering wheel is a bit button-heavy, though, which can be confusing. The rear seats are slightly cramped, too, and there's a scarcity of gadgets compared to rivals like the Ford Focus but the C4 is definitely one of the most comfortable cars in the family hatchback class. The ride is extraordinarily smooth, ironing out bumps and potholes in the road with ease. It's also very quiet and relaxing to drive. The cabin is well insulated from wind, road and tyre noise and all the engines are smooth and hushed. It all adds up to make the C4 a very enjoyable motorway cruiser.
Practicality & boot space
Huge boot but limited legroom in the back
The boot in the C4 js huge by the standards of the average family hatchback. There is 408 litres of luggage capacity compared to 316 litres in a Ford Focus, 370 litres in a Vauxhall Astra and 380 litres in a Volkswagen Golf. Fold down the rear seats and capacity expands to 1,300 litres. The downside is that space in the rear has been compromised slightly to accommodate the class-leading boot - it's not a deal-breaker, as there's still room for four adults to sit comfortably and headroom is fine, but there's less legroom in the back than you’ll find in rivals There are lots of storage areas dotted about the cabin, too.
The e-HDI model with the automatic gearbox comes with a refrigerated storage compartment in the centre console, which is big enough to fit a couple of 500ml bottles inside.
Reliability & safety
No reported major faults and a five-star safety score
Citroen as a brand doesn’t have the greatest reputation for reliability but the quality of its cars have improved noticeably in recent years. The C4 looks and feels well built – just like other modern Citroens such as the C3 and DS3 do – and there have been no major faults reported on it so far.
Citroen didn’t perform superbly well in the most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, though – it came 24th out of 32 manufacturers. Still, there's no criticising the C4's safety credentials. It scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP's crash tests and all models come with six airbags and electronic stability control as standard. They also get Citroen's eTouch system, which is a ceiling-mounted panic button which alerts emergency services to your location and puts you in touch with an operator if you have an accident – it even activates automatically in the event of a large impact.
Engines, drive & performance
The C4 is perfectly capable but a little dull to drive
The C4 has been setup to maximise comfort rather than driving thrills, with soft suspension that soaks up bumps and potholes. The downside of this is that the car leans fairly heavily if you go round corners at any speed. The steering isn’t particularly accurate either in comparison to cars like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, so the C4 is not a car that's going to put a smile on your face as it zips along winding country roads. However, it's generally fine around town and very relaxing to drive on the motorway. There's a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines. All the petrols – except the flagship 155bhp 1.6-litre THP – feel sluggish and underpowered and are best avoided. The flagship petrol does offer decent performance, but it's matched by the 150bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, and since the latter offers much better economy, we’d pick that over the petrol model. The other two diesel also offer a decent mix of performance and economy – just watch out for the automatic gearbox that's available on the e-HDI model - it does offer better economy and emissions than the manual version but its gear changes are slow and jerky.
Price, value for money & options
Decent price but the C4 suffers from heavy depreciation
The C4 comes with a choice of three specification levels: VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive. Prices are very competitive and equipment levels are decent – although gadget lovers will be better off looking at rivals like the Volkswagen Golf. Basic models come with air-con, cruise control, front electric windows, hill start assist and split-folding rear seats. You’ll need to pick a mid-spec VTR+ model to get 16-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, electric rear windows, MP3, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Exclusive models get 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome detailing, front seats with massage function, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and eTouch emergency assistance system. Citroens don’t tend to hang on to their values very well, though, so haggle hard or you’ll see a big loss when it comes time to sell on.
What the others say
"Although the design has been toned down from the model it replaces, the C4 is smart and understated, thanks to the slashes in its sides and the neat C3-inspired tail-lights. Inside, the high-quality cabin includes brushed metal inserts and soft-touch materials, while the switches feel solid."
"An improvement on the old C4, but still no better than average in a competitive and competent class, and certainly not up to the standards set by the impressive DS range."
"The C4 does some things extremely well, but is also mediocre in a number of areas. It's fine if your priority is comfort, but it won't suit enthusiastic drivers or people wanting maximum space."
Last updated: 18 Feb 2014