What is it?
Two or three years ago, Citroën explained to us how it was going to give its future cars an SUV look while avoiding the SUV drawbacks of a large frontal area and heavy weight that create more emissions. It had decided it would try to give some rough looks without the frontal area and big ride height, and here is the first example of that plan being put into action: the new C4.
Quite interesting-looking, isn’t it? At 1520mm, it’s 25mm taller than the Ford Focus, and it runs here on 60-section tyres, which are positively balloonish by recent standards. There’s also lower-body cladding for fuller effect and a fastback sort of roofline. Are you convinced? It’s a little shorter than the Toyota C-HR, itself barely a crossover, and again by about 25mm. Who knew the BMW X6 would be so influential?
This has a less aggressive take on things, mind; Citroën is a company that’s often willing to make its cars look a little unusual, and I don’t think that does the C4 any harm.
Similar is true inside, where there’s a wide variety of materials and finishes, from traditional graining to modern technical graining and fabrics, including a bold sash down the door. There’s also a funky new digital dial pack, which is quite small, reminiscent of the one in the Ariel Atom, with a little rev counter and water temperature gauge but a clear speedo, nestled among coloured squares that look like the Breaking Bad logo against gentle backlighting.
When I say this car might rapidly date, I mean it as a compliment, in the way that old Citroëns now have a bit of charm and class. There are hints of GS about the rear three-quarter view, aren’t there? Squint a bit.
More thrillingly, the C4 gets heating and ventilation controls separated from its infotainment touchscreen. Praise be. The screen itself can mirror your phone, and you may find that preferable to navigating the system itself.
The driving position is sound, there’s quite generous space in the rear and the boot capacity is a competitive 380-1250 litres. The C4 is 4.35m long, so not huge for a car in the Volkswagen Golf class. The C4 sits on the PSA Group’s smaller family car platform, which means you get a choice of an internal combustion engine or a battery-electric vehicle powertrain, like you do with the Peugeot 208, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Corsa; the bigger platform offers a choice between ICE and plug-in hybrid.
The C4 could have gone either way, as the next Peugeot 308 still might. I’m told each PSA brand gets to make its own call, and perhaps Citroën’s choice of BEV over PHEV will look the better choice as time goes on. I wonder if it has a higher proportion of private buyers to company car drivers than is typical in Europe, as their lower mileages and more regular routes lend them more easily to a BEV.
Anyway, here we’re driving the ë-C4, which brings with it a 50kWh battery beneath the floor and a power transfer kit under the bonnet and is front-wheel drive. On the WLTP test cycle, that gives it a range of 217 miles. Avoid starting with a cold battery or doing a lot of high-speed miles if you want to get anywhere near that, as per usual. And it has a maximum charging rate of 100kW.