The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 2.4
The Citroen C4 is meant to be all about comfort, but its dated chassis fails to deliver on any score. It rides poorly on all but the smoothest roads, the cabin is horribly dated, the rear seats are cramped, and the boot is only slightly above average. Hard to recommend, even with a large discount.
Reasons to buy
- Cheap to buy
- Big boot
- Some efficient engines
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
In the flesh, the Citroen C4 has a distinctive design, with some attractive features to raise its kerb appeal. The front and rear lights are well designed, as are the alloy wheels. In keeping with Citroen’s other new models, its Chevron front and rear badges are also bigger and more attractively designed. The C4 will only be made available in a five-door body style. However it comes with few of the distinctive features you'd expect to find in this competitive market - most of its rivals are styled with more pizazz or at least something to set them apart from the norm.
What's the interior like?
On the inside, the Citroen C4 feels cheap and poorly built, despite showing improvement over the previous model. There’s some chrome detailing and the soft-touch switchgear feels ok, but it's miles behind the class best hatchbacks. There are far too many buttons on the wheel and centre console, and most of the plastics on the dash and doors feel hard and scratchy to the touch. Middle of the range Feel trim comes with adjustable instrument colours, which allows you to vary the backlighting from white to sea blue, but the dials are hard to read as it is, and the effect seems like a tacky gimmick. The seats are relatively comfortable and offer decent support, but the driving position is not great. It's too high, with an awkward clutch pedal, and no foot rest.
How practical is it?
Citroen has prioritised practicality when designing the new C4. It boasts a similar sized boot to many rivals, with 380 litres of luggage space, and a wide and long opening which makes loading larger items easy. This means it has a larger boot than the new Ford Focus (315), and Vauxhall Astra (370) and is only surpassed by the Honda Civic, with its huge 485-litre boot. On the inside, while there’s plenty of room up front, but leg- and headroom is a little tight for rear seat passengers. The rear seats don’t fold flat either.
What's it like to drive?
The C4 is very softly sprung to try and make it more comfortable than its rivals. On smooth road surfaces this works fine, but if the road bends, rises or offers up any bumps then the Citroen pitches and rolls dramatically. Sharp ruts send nasty jolts through the cabin too, and it fails to absorb imperfections like the best cars in this class. The Focus, Golf and Astra all feel more dynamic, with the C4 erring towards safety not fun. The steering is vague and would benefit from being weightier, especially when manoeuvring at low speeds and around town. It does however improve when driving at motorway speeds, but is prone to suddenly losing resistance once lock is added, making it feel very unstable, and its difficult to trust the car's reactions in tight turns.
How powerful is it?
There are three petrol and three diesel engines to choose from. The petrol options are a 95bhp 1.4-litre VTi and 1.6-litre engine with two power outputs, 120 and 155bhp. The range-topping version comes with a six-speed EGS automatic gearbox. Diesel buyers can choose between a 1.6-litre HDi with 90 or 110bhp and a 150bhp 2-litre HDi engine. The 90bhp 1.6-litre version we drove was impressive, with ample performance and smooth delivery. It can go from 0-62mph in 12.9 seconds with a top speed of 112mph, though the range-topping 2-litre unit can do this sprint in just 8.6 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
Citroen has been quick to emphasise the C4’s green credentials. Petrol engines are capable of returning between 44.1 and 46.3 mpg while emitting 140 to 160g/km of CO2. But it’s the small diesel which offers the best efficiency, with its 67.3mpg fuel economy and 109g/km of CO2 emissions when specified with Citroen’s six-speed EGS automated manual gearbox. The five-speed manual version we drove pushes emissions up to 110g/km but was impressively efficient and the stop and start system worked seamlessly. The 110bhp diesel also comes as a hybrid e-HDi version, and is capable of emitting 109g/km of CO2.
How reliable is it?
The previous generation model doesn’t have a great record for reliability: it’s been the subject of 10 safety recalls, and electrical and mechanical problems are common. However, Citroen’s record has improved of late. Even so, it seems the C4 did not arrive in time to benefit from this uptick in performance. The C4 currently languishes right at the bottom of most customer satisfaction surveys, with several problems reported with the electrics, and other reliability and durability problems seem fairly common. In fact in one recent survey, the only hatchback which performed worse was the Fiat Punto Evo.
How safe is it?
The new Citroen C4 received a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating when it was tested at the end of 2010. It was awarded 90 per cent for adult protection, 85 per cent for child occupant protection, 43 per cent for pedestrian protection and 97 per cent for safety assist. The dashboard was commended because its shape reduced the risk of injury for front seat occupants in a crash. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability programme (ESP) and six airbags, which is all standard fare these days, whereas it misses out on the latest active safety kit available in most of its rivals.
How much equipment do I get?
There are three trim levels: VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive. Entry-level models come with cruise control, air-con, steering wheel-mounted controls and a stereo with surround sound. VTR+ adds 16-inch ‘Boston’ design alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, front fog lights with cornering function, dark tinted windows, adjustable instrument colours and Bluetooth connectivity. Range-topping models benefit from massaging front seats, 17-inch ‘Phoenix’ design alloys, front parking sensors, parking space gap measurement, emergency assist, dual-zone climate control and additional storage space, as well as automatic wipers and headlights.
The Citroen C4 is a practical, efficient, but ultimately disappointing family hatch. Every engine is fairly efficient, the boot is reasonable, and refinement is passable. However it is no where near as good to drive, comfortable or practical as the best cars in this class. The interior feels cheaply made, and it has a poor reliability record. Unless you can get a good deal, then it's best avoided in favour of one its many superior competitors.