► New Citroen C4 will launch in ICE and EV forms
► Advanced Comfort seats and springs promise relaxing drive
► On sale late 2020, with first UK deliveries in January 2021
CAR has had a closer look at the new Citroen C4 and e-C4 hatchacks, due to go on sale in the UK at the tail end of 2020. The new hatchback has the not-altogether simple job of replacing the Airbump-protected C4 Cactus while encouraging customers into coming to Citroen over established rivals such as the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon.
Citroen is hoping that its funky SUV-inspired looks and joint petrol, diesel and EV powertrains will be enough to make a mark in this crowded market place. When the C4 goes on sale at the end of 2020, Citroen will be unique in this market sector in offering its mid-sized family hatchback in petrol, diesel and electric forms from launch – beating PSA sister brands Peugeot and Vauxhall.
Peugeot and Vauxhall do offer their smaller 208 and Corsa in electric form, whereas Citroen's C3 is petrol/diesel only due to the use of an older platform. During the world debut of the fresh model, brand CEO Vincent Cobée said 'I do believe this new C4 will become a reference point in the segment.' Strong words indeed.
That’s a wild design…
It’s definitely going to be a talking point, and in the metal it certainly stands apart from more conventional C-sector hatchbacks. It's a Citroen and the company is happy to say that its fastback design that references classics such as the GS and CX, but also incorporates current design thinking, while introducing some new ones. At first glance, it looks jacked up in the current SUV style and combines that with a sleek roofline in a similar manner to the BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.
It gets an update of the interesting split-level lighting arrangement up front first seen on the C3, with some interesting – and now expected – LED theatre from the DRLs when you turn them on. There's side cladding and wheelarch extensions that mirror the company's SUVs, but a very stark rear end with a high-level rear spoiler, split rear screen, fat rear bumper and angular rear lights.
In conversation with Marc Pinson, VP of Citroen's Style Programme, it's clear the company wants to make a deliberate attempt to differentiate itself from the hatchback opposition. 'Buyers like the SUV style but don't necessarily want a larger vehicle. The C4 will appeal to hatchback buyers, and the slightly higher seating position will be another positive point,' he says.
Citroen says that the colour schemes available allow for 31 exterior combinations, comprising seven body colours and five ‘colour packs’ that fit into the bumper and side skirt inserts. One of those colour packs – Anodised Blue – is exclusive to the e-C4 variant.
What's it like inside?
If you're coming straight out of a C4 Cactus or heaven forbid, the old C4 hatch, then this one is going to feel like a huge leap forward. The C4 gets a development of C5 Aircross's all-digital dash and infotainment set-up but with a few key tweaks. It seems Citroen has listened to the moans of even the air conditioning controls being integrated into the central touchscreen, so has reintroduced physical buttons.
Tech like a head-up display, ambient lighting and, of course, the brand’s Advanced Comfort technologies. That means, like the C5 Aircross, you get Progressive Hydraulic bumpstops in the suspension to improve ride civility and Advanced Comfort seats.
Those seats certainly look comfortable, and at first sight, there seems to be lots of room and a distinctly un-SUV style driving position. Will this mix of French flair and practicality be enough to tempt people out of the more usual Golf and Focus? That remains to be seen, but the early signs are good.
You mentioned varying powertrains?
The C4’s CMP platform allows for petrol, diesel and electric power without the latter compromising space. It's the electrification strategy that most interests, with Pinson confirming that demand for the EV version is likely to be higher than originally planned. 'Pre-Covid, we were looking at less than 10% EV production, but anticipate that it will be higher than that now.'
The e-C4 joins the C5 Aircross plug-in hybrid, zany Ami city car and a smattering of electric vans in its electrified line-up. Just like other electric PSA cars in the group, it has a 50kWh battery and 134bhp e-motor, allowing for a 0-62mph sprint in 9.7sec and a top speed of 93mph. Citroen claims a range of up to 217 miles on the WLTP test procedure.
Citroen's electric plans explained
The option of an electric version is very interesting – and since we lost the Volkswagen e-Golf, it is one of very few electric choices in this class. Its main rival will be the Nissan Leaf, which although ageing in several areas, does still offer a competitive range and efficiency. And that's before the Volkswagen ID.3 comes on stream.
If a combustion engine is more your thing, Citroen is offering its 109bhp, 128bhp and 153bhp three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines and its 109bhp and 128bhp BlueHDi diesels. All but the lowest powered petrol and diesel are available with an eight-speed auto as well as a six-speed manual.
Let’s talk practicality…
We didn't get too much of a chance to poke around the interior, but Citroen boasts best in class rear legroom. We did manage to get a six-footer to sit behind another quite comfortably, and despite that sloping roofline, they did look pretty comfortable in there. There are other accessories like tablet stands for the front passenger, which should also make the C4 an agreeable car to take long distance trips in.
It lookes okay in the luggage department, too. The new C4 has a 380-litre boot – the same as a VW Golf – but it's well-shaped and thanks to a split-floor arrangement, there's no lip to struggle over when loading it up with heavy stuff.
When can I buy one?
The new Citroen C4 and e-C4 will be available to order from November 2020 with first UK deliveries likely to take place in January 2021.
Check out our Citroen reviews