What is it?
This is the new Citroën C4 with a traditional powertrain, and it’s one that the PSA Group uses a lot.
I remember being in a design studio being told how Citroen was going to give its cars and SUV-like look but without the traditional drawbacks of an SUV or 4x4 that lead to inefficiency. It had decided it would try to add some rough looks without the big frontal area or tall ride height and this is that plan in action.
Quite an interesting-loooking car, no? At 1520mm high it's 25mm or so taller than a Ford Focus and here runs on tall 60-profile tyres, quite balloonish by most standards. Body cladding adds to the effect too. Its roof is a little lower than a Toyota C-HR, itself barely a crossover.
This one is powered by a 128bhp (badged 130) 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. So if you’re not able to take the EV plunge yet, maybe this is the one for you.
What's it like?
Or maybe it isn't. Sometimes engineers in the business talk about the 50-metre test: how a car feels in those first few seconds. This doesn’t even wait that long to feel genuinely poor.
The pedals are non-linearly responsive and the steering is impossibly light and indirect. It feels like somebody has taped big car-washing sponges to the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands and then challenged you to drive a car. It’s like it has never spent any time at all in the company of a ride-and-handling engineer. I don’t think this is how you do rolling comfort. Yes, there’s reasonable isolation, but I found its responses exhausting.
At least the engine and gearbox are quiet and smooth in operation. The gearbox is sometimes hesitant to downshift, but you can take control via wheel-mounted paddles if you like. What’s surprising, given how an electric motor makes peak torque from no revs and a petrol engine (even a turbo one) doesn’t, is how much more torque steer this C4 has than the ë-C4, too, and it also tramlines more under braking.
The rest of the package is as pleasant as the ë-C4. It's a spacious cabin, interestingly designed with particularly cool instruments and, praise be, heating and ventilation controls given their own actual buttons rather than being hidden within the touchscreen menu.
And, as is often the way with Citroëns, you will the find pricing, equipment and offers pretty strong (prices go from £22,990 to £26,320 for this range-topping Shine Plus).