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In-depth reviews

Citroen C4 hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Citroen's innovative suspension serves up a smooth ride

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.1 out of 5

While some brands like SEAT try to cultivate and promote a sporty image, Citroen has been trying to position its cars as class leaders in comfort. Citroen’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension has been a big part of this push; it’s designed to help soak up the worst bumps in the roads but it's actually had mixed success – in some Citroen models, we’ve found the technology makes only a limited difference.

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Thankfully, it feels more successful here, taking the edge off all but the deepest potholes, giving it an advantage over most family hatchbacks. It's also particularly welcome in Britain, where the suspension is able to filter out all but the worst road surfaces. Composure is still intact at higher speeds but the C4 predictably feels far less willing to play along a twisting back road than a Ford Focus. Its steering is light and somewhat vague, while there's also a fair bit of body lean.

If you’re used to cars that aim to be sporty, the C4 feels prone to wallowing in corners by comparison, so take a test drive before you buy, particularly if you or one of your passengers gets travel sickness. The relaxed nature of the car and the comfortable seats means it’s great for long motorway journeys or pothole-laden city streets, though.

Citroen C4 petrol engines

Citroen's willing 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder engine has been around for some time and fitted in various Peugeot, Vauxhall and Citroen models. Here it's available with either 99bhp or 128bhp, both getting a manual gearbox as standard. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is optional for the 128bhp version and standard for the range-topper. The lowest-powered engine is exclusive to the cheapest trim level, with higher-spec cars only being offered with the 128bhp petrol.

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The entry-level 99bhp PureTech petrol reaches 0-62mph in a little over 11 seconds. There’s not a lot of pulling power but it comes in early, so you don’t feel like you need to rev it noisily to make progress. In most situations, it feels just about quick enough but we did find it underpowered in hilly areas and when overtaking slower traffic.

Above this, the 128bhp version manages 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds with a six-speed manual gearbox, with the eight-speed auto taking 9.4 seconds. This engine has decent pulling power at low revs, so you rarely have to go above 3,000rpm – after this point, the engine can start to sound a bit gruff. The automatic gearbox shuffles through the gears competently enough, but we think the manual makes better use of the available power.

The 153bhp petrol engine has been discontinued and offered much keener acceleration than its lesser-powered siblings. However, the extra power meant the car’s nose tended to rise up under hard acceleration due to the soft suspension setup, and the automatic gearbox could be jerky at low speeds.

Diesel engine

The 1.5-litre diesel engine outputs 128bhp – the entry-level 108bhp version is no longer offered. The 128bhp model offers performance that’s fairly close to similarly powered rivals, with 0-62mph taking 9.5 seconds. This is only available with an automatic gearbox.

Electric motors

Unlike most of its rivals, the Citroen C4 is available as a petrol, diesel or electric car. Badged e-C4, the latter has a single electric motor powering the front wheels, making it a rival for the Mazda MX-30 and Volkswagen ID.3. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes nine seconds but instant torque and the absence of gear changes help it feel quicker than the raw numbers suggest, particularly around town.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,690

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,690

Fastest

  • Name
    1.2 PureTech You 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,690

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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