First Drive: The Citroen C4 takes comfort to the next level

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter

What is it?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

If there’s one thing you can rely on Citroen for, it’s that it will take what should be a pretty uninteresting car and inject it with some character. Step up the new C4. Although hatchbacks are still popular, it’s crossovers where most buyers are looking, hence why Citroen’s given the new C4 some pumped up SUV appeal.

Therefore you’ve got big wheels, chunky cladding and a raised ride height, coupled with a sleek roofline and a bold, quirky front end. It’s also offered with a choice of diesel, petrol and electric, so it’s clear Citroen wants this car to appeal as widely as possible.

This should be just another family hatchback, but it’s immediately obvious there’s something more going on here.

What’s new?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

The key changes are the new look, which incorporates Citroen’s latest design language, as well as the wide powertrain choices, motivated by the French firm wanting to update its existing model range with new technology rather than building an all-new line-up for EVs, such as Volkswagen’s I.D. brand.

Elsewhere there’s a real focus on comfort with a clean interior design, soft seats and an advanced suspension that’s made to soak up bumps. It also gets advanced driver assistance programmes that are said to provide ‘comfort of use’.

What’s under the bonnet?

Citroen wants to give the customer the choice of whatever powertrain is best for them without having to look between different models, so there are two diesel engines, four petrol engines, and an electric model badged e-C4.

We’ve been testing the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol with a six-speed manual transmission (it’s also available with an eight-speed auto). It makes 129bhp and 230Nm of torque, promising up to 55mpg and CO2 emissions of up to 135g/km.

Performance isn’t its remit but it feels adequate punchy when getting up to speed on, say, a motorway on-ramp. Meanwhile, it’s mostly quiet, but it does have a slightly unrefined buzz that’s noticeable under acceleration.

What’s it like to drive?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

The first thing that you notice when driving the new C4 is just how wonderfully comfortable it is. Citroen has fitted its ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ suspension technology, which it says provides a ‘magic carpet ride effect’ – get beyond the marketing gimmicks and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment.

What’s most impressive is that this supreme comfort doesn’t also result in unnerving body roll in corners. It’s no sports car, but the C4 is a relaxing steer that gives you confidence in its road-holding abilities.

If you’re looking for the most comfort-focused model of all, the electric e-C4 is the one to go for, as the silent, smooth powertrain suits the relaxing driving experience the rest of the car gives you. However, the petrol we tested was just about quiet enough to not detract from the experience.

How does it look?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

Citroen likes to make cars that stand out from the crowd with a quirky edge, and the new C4 is the perfect example of that. The front end skirts the line between being funky and overdesigned, but we think it looks great with its blocky headlights, slim daytime running lights, narrow grille and chunky lower bumper.

It’s a weird mix between a hatchback and SUV, not quite being a crossover but certainly having much of what buyers of those cars are looking for. It has a raised ride height and big wheels, with the rugged cladding that gives it the look of a car that’s capable off road, while also getting stylish, premium design details and a sloping, coupe-like roofline. It sounds like a fussy mashup, but it works.

What’s it like inside?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

Part of Citroen’s comfort focus is to look at ‘comfort of the mind’ by providing a clean, minimalist cabin design that reduces the mental workload by putting the most important features front and foremost. It works, too, with physical buttons for features such as climate control making it much easier to use than typical touchscreen menu fiddling.

It feels light and airy inside, too, while the comfort seats are just that – incredibly comfortable. The driving position is still not ideal – the pedals are too close to the driver as is common with all PSA Groupe manufacturers – while the instrument screen is small, set within a large piano black section that looks a little bland.

Overall, though, while again, ‘comfort of the mind’ sounds like a gimmick, it certainly goes a long way to achieving this.

What’s the spec like?

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

We’ve been testing the entry-level Sense Plus trim, and it’s fair to say that on first inspection, there’s nothing to suggest this is the entry model, looking smart from the outside with large 18-inch alloy wheels. Prices for this model start at £23,005 and include keyless entry and start, connected sat nav, digital instrument cluster and driver assistance features.

Step up to the Shine model – priced from £24,005 – and you get parking sensors and a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control and tinted windows, while the top-spec Shine Plus, starting at £26,605, adds an upgraded sound system and advanced safety systems.

Verdict

Citroen C4
(Citroen)

In a time where most cars appear to be following a similar trend and choices between models are becoming less interesting, the new C4 feels like a breath of fresh air. It has interesting styling and a lovely cabin, and more than meets its comfort-first remit.

Citroen’s decision to include all powertrain types in a single model feels like a shrewd one, simplifying choice when others are muddying the waters. Whatever powertrain you choose, you’ll find a relaxing, practical family car with more personality than anything most rivals can muster up.

  • Model as tested: Citroen C4

  • Price as tested: £23,705

  • Engine: 1.2-litre petrol

  • Power: 129bhp

  • Torque: 230Nm

  • Max speed: 130mph

  • 0-60mph: 8.9 seconds

  • MPG: 43.7 - 54.7

  • Emissions: 120-135g/km CO2

From Our Partners