23.8.2011 Citroen C4 e-HDi review
The most economical model in the C4 range, yet it comes with lots of equipment as standard and plenty of options. Even though Citroen has concentrated on practicality, safety and value, the standard EGS semi-automatic gearbox takes getting used to and pushes up the price to nearly £20,000 which may be too much for people otherwise attracted by the low running costs.
The C4 isn't the largest car in its class though there's plenty of headroom – rear legroom is poor if the driver is tall. Optional Denon stereo upgrade produces great sound but reduces luggage space. Missing from the previous model is the distinctive fixed-hub steering wheel which apparently was too expensive and too heavy.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Well-proven across the Citroen and Peugeot ranges, the 1.6 litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine delivers its 110 bhp and 199 lbs ft of torque (at 1750 rpm) to the front wheels via a 'robotised' manual gearbox rather than a conventional manual or automatic. This requires some sensitivity from the driver – easing back on the power on gear changes for instance – or you get lurches and passengers' heads moving like nodding dogs. I found it more enjoyable to use the small paddles behind the steering wheel and change manually and leave the 'box' to its own devices. There is no clutch to operate with your left foot. The gearbox feels old fashioned compared to dual clutch systems in some rivals, such as Volkswagens. Acceleration is a reasonable enough 0-62 mph in 11.2 seconds and the C4 runs out of puff at 118 mph.
Many older Citroens were built for comfort rather than sporty handling and that's true of the C4. It is happier cruising in a straight line than attempting quick changes of direction. But while the ride is cosseting over most surfaces, the soft suspension can be caught out with potholes jarring badly, especially for those in the rear seats. The VTR+ model as tested comes on 16 inch wheels and the 17 inch wheels of the Exclusive models might ride worse but handle direction changes more confidently.
Smooth and sophisticated, practical five-door family hatchback with a more solid look than usual from Citroen – the most dramatic designs have been left to its DS4 range. The boot is absolutely enormous at 408 litres though rear seat accommodation is not as generous as the car's styling and overall size would suggest. The interior is pretty classy with a selection of luxury options available including adjusting the force of the air conditioning, massage seats and a selection of polyphonic tones – like a mobile phone – to tell you when the indicators etc are working. Length 4329mm. Width 1789mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
It's an evening with the handbook if you want to learn what all the controls on the C4's dashboard and steering wheel all do. Nearly everything seems to be adjustable from the cabin lighting to the dual zone air conditioning, from the various music sources to a black panel control which lets you black out unneeded instruments at night to reduce distraction.
The C4 also has a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, electric front and rear windows and even massaging front seats (standard on Exclusive models). Air recirculation with pollen filter should prove a boon to hay fever sufferers.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official fuel consumption figures are 60.1 mpg urban (helped by a start-stop system) and 67.3 mpg combined. The best I saw was 57 mpg. CO2 emissions of 98 g/km put the C4 EGS in vehicle tax band A so that road tax is zero. Warranty is three years / 60,000 miles. Based on fuel consumption figures, running costs for a Citroen C4 e-HDi should be low. Citroen predicts residual values will be stronger than for the previous model and depreciation is still the biggest cost of running a car for most people.
The 67.3 mpg official fuel economy and 98 g/km CO2 exhaust emissions and exhaust particulate filter put the e-HDi in with the 'greenest' cars in the class. Like sister company Peugeot, Citroen calls the car a micro-hybrid because of its regenerative braking technology and fast response start-stop system. The EGS gearbox has ratios optimised for economy and the car runs on Michelin energy saver tyres. A gear efficiency indicator signals the most fuel efficient moment to change gear and encourages economical driving. Though the C4 is slightly larger than its predecessor, its weight has been slightly reduced despite equipment levels. 15% of the new C4's polymer components are made using materials such as re-cycled plastics, natural materials like cellulose fibre and other bio-materials from non-fossil, renewable sources. About 30 parts, including the rear bumper, door panels, carpets and wheel arch liners use these 'green' materials. The new C4 is 85% recyclable.
There are so many toys on VTR+ and Exclusive models that the C4 should have plenty of showroom appeal to the 50+ year olds with families that Citroen say the car is aimed at. Some of the technology hasn't been seen in this sector and price point of the market before. Features include a blind-spot monitoring system, emergency and assistance call system, cruise control, speed limiter with favourite speed settings and extra illumination cornering lights. Other fittings are a cooled and illuminated storage box, Bluetooth and USB sockets, front and rear parking sensors, parking space measurement; Xenon directional headlamps and tyre pressure monitoring system. Metallic paint, as ever, is an option (£450).
Model tested: Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi VTR+
Body-style: Five-door family hatchback
Engine/CO2: 110bhp 1560cc turbo diesel / 98 gCO2/km
Trim grades: VTR, VTR+, Exclusive
On-road price: £19,845
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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