From £13,380
Next to its rivals, it’s hard to recommend this dated automated-manual version of the new C4

Our Verdict

Citroën C4
The Citroën C4 range comprises three diesel and three petrol engines, plus three trim levels

An admirable car, but there is an abundance of much better rivals

20 September 2010

What is it?

Citroen’s all-new C4 family hatchback equipped with the most powerful petrol engine in the range.

On paper it looks promising: we already know a lot about the excellent turbocharged 154bhp, 177lb ft 1.6-litre PSA/BMW-co-developed engine, seen most recently in the DS3.

But unlike the six-speed manual DS3, the engine is only available with a ‘clutchless’ six-speed automated manual gearbox equipped with steering column mounted paddle shifters.

And past experience of the gearbox in other PSA cars says that’s not necessarily a good thing in a segment brimming with quality and many with DSG options.

What’s it like?

A complete mismatch between engine and gearbox. The engine is excellent; there’s plenty of low-speed urgency with peak torque arriving between 1400-4000rpm. It’s also smooth and quiet, matching the new C4’s soft-riding character.

But any hopes of an enjoyable drive are spoiled by the gearbox. Left to its own devices in automatic mode it lurches the car forward under any kind of spirited acceleration and the rest of the time it flicks between being hesitant and indecisive; don’t expect to get into gaps you spot between the traffic at busy roundabouts.

In manual mode, it’s a bit better but not enough for you to want to control your own shifts all of the time as the control never really feels there. The best way to drive this car is slowly and with great consideration.

The rest of the package is good: the soft ride is smooth on the larger 17-inch alloys even over the most scarred Swedish roads. The comfortable cabin is nicely finished and standard equipment levels are generous; the boot capacity is in excess of 400-litres and is class-leading in size.

Should I buy one?

With this gearbox? We’d urge to proceed with caution. You need a very distinct and patient driving style to master it – or tolerate it – or it will almost certainly prove to be a deal-breaker.

Citroen has made a perfectly acceptable car in the segment that rides nicely, is nicely finished and is otherwise a smooth and relaxing car to drive.

There’s an excellent engine hidden behind the gearbox, but it seems such a strange decision to mate it to this gearbox.

Next to exceptionally talented rivals from VW, Ford and now Alfa Romeo, it’s hard to recommend this dated automated-manual version of the new C4, especially with all of them having DSG options or equivalent on the way.

Citroën C4 1.6 THP

Price: £20,500 (est); Top speed: 134mph; 0-62mph: 8.7sec; Economy: 44.8mpg; CO2: 148g/km; Kerb weight: 1275kg; Engine, type, cc: 4 cyls, 1598cc, petrol; Power: 154bhp; Torque: 240lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd automated manual

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Join the debate

Comments
8

21 September 2010

I have a lot of time for PSA products and this new C4 looks like a quality car without the 'sport' handling and poor ride that often goes with it that many alternatives get these days. Its good to see a comfort orientated offering in a world obsessed with 'sport'.

But one thing i dont understand is their desire to get us into automated manuals. Its obviously the worst of both worlds, not giving the smoothness of a proper auto or the control of a manual. Given that PSA have a perfectly good manual and auto gearboxs they could use with this car its just daft not to offer them.

We keep on being told that manufacturers are trying to fill every niche with more and more odd body styles yet the option of engine and gearbox seen to get ever more restrictive. This sounds to me the engine best suited to the C4, powerful smooth and economical, yet without a manual or proper auto gearbox i doubt many will consider it.

21 September 2010

PSA didnt develop its own DSG all these years and it makes me wonder where is their development budget going. However, it also makes me wonder is that gearbox really that bad. I havent seen a good review about it and yet PSA keeps producing it even more. It will also be in 508 with 1.6 petrol and 1.6 eHdi engines.

22 September 2010

[quote Autocar]

the engine is only available with a ‘clutchless’ six-speed automated manual gearbox equipped with steering column mounted paddle shifters.

[/quote] Woe, woe and thrice woe. We went to buy a new Fiat 500C. We didn't get one, it too suffers from a clumsy auto manual box.....aaaaaaaaaagh bring back the proper auto - or at least provide punters with a proper manual. PLEASE

22 September 2010

what about a twin clutch, they are not clumsy.

22 September 2010

[quote artill]But one thing i dont understand is their desire to get us into automated manuals. [/quote]

This is something that really annoys me: I'd seriously consider a Fabia VRS or Polo GTi if it weren't for the auto boxes. Why don't these manufacturers offer both auto and manual versions - they must lose sales because of this?

22 September 2010

Beggars belief! If it's even half as bad as you say how on earth did it get into production? I just don't get it - the car appears promising in so many other respects.

22 September 2010

Long live the double clutch!

Or a good manual gearbox...

23 September 2010

The double clutch transmission used by VAG is not proprietary and was developed by Borg-Warner. There is no reason why other manufacturers including Citroen could not adopt it. One then has to ask why they have not. Could it be the recall of all US cars fitted with the box due to 3000 incidents including accidents that were reported by VAG to the NHTSA. The fix takes place under a service notice in most other markets. Could it be the poor performance of the box in urban conditions, particularly when mated to twin charge engines where careful driving, shunt and surge a la automated manual have been widely reported by owners but ignored by the media? Could it be the expense of the box which easily rivals that of a conventional auto? DCTs have been adopted by those manufactures game enough to take it on because of its benefits in official fuel consumption tests over a conventional auto. It is not however as efficient as an automated manual. Anyone contemplating buying a DCT car, particularly a used one should undertake some research. They are very complex, not particularly reliable and very expensive to replace. Just carry out a Google search with the words vw dsg. The top 6 searches are problems, transmission problems, recall, faults and reliability. One also wonders where the motoring press have been whilst all this has been going on.

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