Citroën C4 faces uphill struggle to impress

We first saw the Citroën C4 hatchback in 2010 and if we were relatively underwhelmed back then by the car’s ordinariness, we pretty much still are today.

It is a good car, for sure, but it has never really been a serious contender in a segment which is populated by a host of truly good cars such as the Ford Focus, the VW Golf, the Mazda3 and even its’ distant sibling, the Peugeot 308.

I have no doubt that somewhere along the line chez Citroën, the C4 appears to have gotten a little lost.

What with the creation of the new DS brand and the successes of very worthy machines such as the C4 Cactus and the C4 Picasso, it seems to me that the design team for the mainstream C4 were assigned a back office somewhere given a couple of hundred Euro, a pack of Gauloise and a gift voucher to an auto parts store and told to do their best.

What they have come up with is the new C4, which we test here. It is not a bad car at all, but still one which aches and longs to be loved in the same way by so many people as a Focus or a Golf. Even in its’ new guise the C4 will have a hard time living up not only to its’ siblings, but also its’ rivals.

Citroën C4 faces uphill struggle to impress

In fairness one of the main areas of interest here is the fact Citroën has tapped into the parent company PSA’s range of new diesel and petrol engines. The diesels come in the shape of the new BlueHDi range, while the old VTi four cylinder petrols have been replaced by the new PureTech three-cylinder units which are actually a real blast to drive.

We tried the 100 bhp version of the BlueHDi in the C4 Flair and found it to be a very pleasing thing to live with, although not in any way as enjoyable to live with as the ever-so-buzzy three cylinder petrol unit. But then, for people doing high mileage this thing will prove to be a very decent working partner.

The performance figures (11.5 seconds 0-100 kph and 180 kph top speed) will not do much for anyone looking to add a bit of zip to their lives, but if you’re looking for virtually incredible economy of 3.5 l/100 km (79 mpg) and a CO2 rating which is sub the 100 g/km mark (98 to be exact) for a very favourable tax rating, then look no further.

Those good news figures do have to be tempered with the reality that the C4 is pretty slack in terms of ride and handling. The former is choppy and inconsistent and hates anything other than billiard table surfaces and the latter is heavy on understeer.

Sure the kit levels are very decent here on the Flair model and the overall price is very competitive but I have to admit that I kept wondering if I had twenty-three-and-a-bit grand to spend, would I spend it on a C4. I never got a positive response from myself on that one.

COLLEY’S VERDICT

The Cost: €23,395 - €23,845 as tested.

The Engine: A sparkling contender on the economy and emission front, not so sparky performance-wise.

The Specification: Top drawer here on the Flair model.

Overall Verdict: Good, but not good enough.


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