What is it?
This is Citroën’s attempt at reinvigorating its long-standing C4 hatchback, which first appeared in 2010.
Back then the Citroën proved a quietly popular choice thanks to its extensive kit list, soft ride and distinctive interior design but, since then, many new or heavily revamped rivals have arrived – such as the all-new Peugeot 308, Mazda 3 and updated Ford Focus.
In order to keep Citroën in some kind of contention a host of upgrades have been carried out. Predictably, there is a selection of light cosmetic and equipment tweaks. The C4 now features redesigned lights, front and rear, new trims and paint options, and a simplified dashboard with an integrated 7.0-inch touchscreen display.
More importantly, the engine line-up has been revamped, resulting in improvements in efficiency and, in many cases, performance. Gone are the old four-cylinder VTi petrols, replaced entirely by modern ‘PureTech’ three-cylinder units, while the diesel range has been refreshed with the latest BlueHDi engines.
We tested the mid-spec BlueHDi 120 version of the facelifted Citroën C4, with a six-speed manual gearbox and a stop-start system, in flagship Flair trim. As standard it includes the likes of dual-zone climate, navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and cruise control.
What's it like?
Despite the refresh the Citroën C4 still feels a little dated. It’s the minor details, like the gear lever that looks straight out of a decade-old Peugeot 407, that result in this aged feel.
Even the new sat-nav system is sluggish and hardly modern in its appearance, compounding the effect. The cosmetic tweaks don’t make a great deal of difference to its looks, either; it’s still not a particularly distinctive car – although some will approve of that.
Elsewhere, many of the C4’s original foibles haven’t been attended to. While it still rides in a pliant, cosseting fashion on good surfaces, it lacks poise and control over lumpen, rougher roads.
The steering could still do with more weight and feedback, too, but it’s at least precise and prompt to respond. There’s plenty of front-end grip, so it doesn’t descend into an unruly mess in faster corners – even in the wet – although it doesn’t inspire confidence or handle like, say, a Focus. Make no mistake, this is a car that suits a relaxed, moderate pace.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is a decent performer, albeit a little raucous if worked hard. Otherwise, the Citroën is a relaxing car to drive and it’s particularly quiet inside at speed. Only seats that lack lower back support, and the aforementioned ride issues, prevent it from being a good long-distance companion.
Rear room isn’t exceptional, but there’s enough space for two adults to sit in relative comfort. The vast boot, however, is worthy of note. In practicality terms, as a result, it rates quite well.
Additionally, Citroën claims an impressive 74.3mpg, granting the C4 a potential range of 966 miles. During our cross-country test route it returned a still–impressive 49mpg, which would still result in a useful range per tank of 637 miles. In manual form this diesel C4 won’t cost you anything to tax, either.
Should I buy one?
Despite the low running costs it’s difficult to recommend the C4 – although it does pain us to say so. After all, Citroëns have always had their appeal in places and this is no exception.
There are also several brokers already offering this particular car for around £15,000, which might appear to make it a very tempting proposition. The major snag is that the Peugeot 308 is equally discounted and consequently available for a similar price.
Besides being a much more modern car, the Peugeot also performs better and is more economical. Faced with such competition, not to mention numerous other highly regarded and similarly priced cars, the Citroën doesn’t stand a chance.
Citroën C4 BlueHDi 120 S&S MT6 Flair
Price £19,145; Engine 4cyls, 1560cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 118bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6spd manual; Kerb weight 1280kg; Top speed 122mph; 0-62mph 10.6sec; Economy 74.3mpg; CO2 rating & BiK tax band 100g/km / 16%