CarsMotormouth Reviews

C4 no match for big boys

Citroen C4
Citroen C4

Citroen C4 1.4 Puretech 110

IF we were given €20k to spend on a new family car, it wouldn’t take us long to make up our mind. We’d go to the nearest Volkswagen dealership and happily hand over every cent for a new Golf.

The compact family class is the biggest in Ireland and is dominated by the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, closely followed by Toyota’s new Corolla. The other manufacturers in this class are battling for scraps against the big players.

There is a long list of compact family cars to choose from, some very good ones, and some, like the Dacia Logan MCV, which are so cheap – only €11k – it doesn’t really matter.

Our recent test from this category was the revamped Citroen C4. It’s a car that’s honest at heart but flies under the radar a little. The last version wasn’t that good and Citroen needed to inject a little style and substance to the updated version.

There’s no question it’s better looking and has a modern feel to the interior, and with high-tech new engines it’s much better to drive. But it’s in a bit of a no-man’s land in reality. It’s nowhere near good enough to take on the mighty Golf, and there are a lot more cars offering much more credentials in the category.

This year Citroen has managed to shift 134 C4s. That’s ok right? Not really when you see that Volkswagen can hardly keep up with demand, delivering 3,807 new Golfs up until June this year.

That’s the sort of task Citroen and many others are facing, the Golf is just that good. Also, the latest family car from Citroen is stealing the latest C4’s thunder, with the C4 Cactus being a much better prospect, with better looks, a funky interior and just as much room.

The Cactus has managed to attract 306 new owners this year and we can’t help but think that some of these sales have been taken from the standard C4. Citroen won’t be too bothered as long as those punters in the showroom keep signing up to the Citroen badge.

But let’s not fit the C4 for a coffin just yet. It will still appeal to those who like their French cars, and Citroen has done a very good job with the new look, both inside and out. Fancy lights and creases on the bodywork make the C4 more pleasing on the eye, and a new touchscreen infotainment system brings it into line with leading competitors.

One of the things we liked most about the revised C4 is the seats: they are supremely comfortable. But the leg room for rear passengers is a little on the cramped side.

With all family cars, boot capacity is a major selling point and the C4 fares quite well in this department, with quite a decent amount of boot space – 408 litres with the rear seats in place. That’s better than the Golf and Focus.

The C4 has lost a lot of the quirkiness that you normally associate with a Citroen, but maybe Citroen wants buyers to jump into the Cactus for a more dramatic appearance.

The PSA group is leading the charge on new petrol engines, and the 1.2 Puretech (110bhp) in our test car is an excellent choice. You get a clean engine with plenty of performance and the running costs of a diesel. It’s a cracking engine and would make you think twice about a diesel.

The C4 was actually quite good to drive, and even though it doesn’t have the grip and stability of a Focus it can cope with a good bit of pace in the corner. Too much weight from the right foot will result in over-steer, but the C4 will be driven by families and not Sebastian Loeb.

Citroen’s revised C4 has been improved and there’s a lot to like, but it’s in the shadow of a lot of rivals in the compact family car segment. If you do want to stick to the Citroen brand and are looking for a family car with a bit of personality, then look at the C4 or Cactus or the brilliant C4 Picasso.

TECH SPEC:

Model: Citroen C4 1.2 Puretech 110

Price:  From €19,995

Tax: Band A4, €200

0-100kph: 10.9s

Max speed: 183kph                     

Economy: 4.8l/100km (claimed)

BOOT CAPACITY: 408 litres

Paul Keown and Robbie Farrell