The family line that has led to this Citroën C4 dates back to the ZX in 1991. It provided spirited performance and quite exceptionally lively handling, even in the unsporting versions.

This good work was undone in 1997 by the terminally dull Xsara, which soldiered on with the support of a series of pricing initiatives until it was replaced by the first C4 in 2006. The fact that Citroën replaced it only four years later shows the pace of change in this most competitive class of the market.

However, Citroën is a company that, of late, appears to have rediscovered its mojo. So hopes are riding high for the new C4. And good it will need to be, facing not only the Volkswagen Golf, but also the Ford Focus which is as formidable a competitor as it is possible to imagine.

This is also the car from which the DS4 has been spun, and while the DS3 could hardly have given the sub-brand a better start in life, its performance needs to be built upon if the series is not to be perceived as a one-trick pony.

The C4 range comprises three diesel and three petrol engines, arranged over three different trim levels. The mainstay of the range will be one of the 1.6-litre diesels, which are available in 91 or 110bhp versions.

Looking for a Citroen C4 for sale? Visit PistonHeads Classifieds

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    2 May 2016
    There's lots of work yet to be done, but the Aston Martin DB11's hardware has been signed-off. To experience it, we've driven a prototype
  • First Drive
    1 May 2016
    If you like Minis, going quickly and basking in the sun, then you're in luck; we've driven Mini's new John Cooper Works Convertible on foreign roads
  • Lotus Elise Cup 250
    First Drive
    29 April 2016
    The fastest, most track-focused and most expensive Elise ever made. It's simple, raw and immersive
  • Porsche 911 Targa 4S
    First Drive
    27 April 2016
    Slick looks, open-top fun and 911 handling sound brilliant, but the Targa has historically trailed the Coupé. How does the new model fare on UK roads?
  • Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d
    First Drive
    26 April 2016
    Jaguar's debut SUV wowed us abroad, but does it still impress as much here on the UK's roads?