While value pricing and super-low running costs get the nod over fashionable trendiness and cutting-edge electronics. The biggest changes with this updated model lie in its rejuvenated engine range, with impressive PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel units offering class-leading power and efficiency that put this car back into class contention.
We’re not alone in bemoaning the fact that for reasons of cost and complexity, small Citroens no longer feature the kind of sophisticated ‘magic carpet’ hydropneumatic suspension systems they once did. Still, the Citroen engineers have done their best to imbue the ingredients they did have with as much of a ‘double-chevron’ feel as possible, hence the kind of comfortable, absorbent low speed ride you tend to expect from the brand.
Easier for Citroen’s development team to deliver within tight cost constraints was exemplary refinement, which the company says was benchmarked against larger, more expensive cars. Great care has been taken to deaden noise intrusion and deliver class-leading levels of quiet, the French designers even having gone as far as installing an acoustic laminated windscreen with a layer of damping film.
The installation of a completely fresh range of engines helps in this regard too, the PSA Group’s Euro6 ‘PureTech’ petrol and ‘BlueHDi’ diesel technology entirely replacing the aging petrol VTi and diesel e-HDi units this second generation C4 model was originally launched with. Low mileage folk need to inspect the turbocharged PureTech petrol units first, both small - but punchy, just three cylinders and 1. 2-litres in size but delivering all the performance and pulling power you’d normally expect from a 1. 6. You get a choice of either 110bhp or, as in this case, 130bhp outputs.
Buyers looking at the BlueHDi diesel models get a choice of three 1. 6-litre four cylinder engines, developing either 100, 120 or 150bhp. Whatever their choice of fuel, urban-based folk can talk to their dealer about Citroen’s EAT6 automatic gearbox and in this guise, the car prioritises the easy, relaxed gait that suits it best. There are certainly more dynamically-adept choices you could make in this segment but this C4 adopts a quieter, more relaxed and arguably more sensible approach to family hatchback motoring. You might actually really like it.
Citroen claims the styling of this improved second generation C4 model to be ‘fresher’ and ‘more assertive’. The improvements that have been made are subtle and, as usual with facelifted models, centre mainly on the front end where below the clamshell bonnet, revised headlights feature 3D-effect chrome-finished modules and LED light strips to suit the prevailing trend.
Otherwise, things are much as they were, which in terms of practicality is a very good thing, given that raising the tailgate reveals a substantial 408-litre cargo area. If you need more space, then pushing forward the 60:40 split-folding backrest reveals quite a step in the loading bay – but also a pretty decent level of space, 1,183-litres of fresh air.
Does the large boot compromise space for rear seat passengers? Not significantly. You enter through wide door apertures that offer easy access, and inside you’ll find yourself seated on a slightly raised rear bench that provides just about enough space for three adults on short to medium-length journeys, assuming that they’re on talking terms, and comfortable room for two, who’ll have plenty of head, shoulder and legroom on longer trips.
Time to take a seat up-front, where a sweeping single-piece dashboard and a smart centre console look sufficiently ‘of the moment’ to disguise the age of this design. You’re positioned quite comfortably too, and though the height-adjustable seats don’t cosset your lower back as much as they probably should on longer trips, they do offer decent side support.
Citroen has taken a massive step forward with this car thanks to the installation of those hi-tech Euro6 powerplants. Expect around 60mpg on the combined cycle and 110g/km or less if you go for one of the 1. 2-litre PureTech petrol units. Or as much as 85mpg on the combined cycle and 86g/km of CO2 if you go for the most frugal of the BlueHDi engines, the 120bhp version with ‘Stop & Start’.
Here’s a car that goes its own way, wilfully unsporty by fashionable measurement, yet ruthlessly efficient at getting the important things right – the huge boot, the class-leading running cost efficiency. It’s also well built, decently equipped and impressively refined. And, despite all of this, it’s one of the most affordable choices you can make in this segment.
For all that, it’s not a model the car magazines will tell you to prioritise in your search for a family hatch of this kind. Even so, if you’re a typical user, it’s one that’ll probably suit you a lot better than they expect. Try one – and you’ll see what I mean.