2014 Citroen C4 e-THP 130 review - updated

Citroen's new three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine is designed to compete with similar low-emission offerings from Ford and Volkswagen. We try it in the C4 hatchback

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The Citroen C4 is the French company's rival for the VW Golf and Ford Focus – and it's been given a new engine in a bid to take on the small turbocharged petrol units offered in those best-selling models.

The C4's 1.2-litre, three-cylinder motor produces 129bhp and 170lb ft. The vast majority of that torque (around 95%) is available at between 1500rpm and 3500rpm, so the car promises the sort of relaxed drive that's made the Golf 1.2 TSI and Focus 1.0 Ecoboost such a success in recent years.

The new C4's efficiency looks impressive too, with combined fuel economy of 59.9mpg and 110g/km of CO2 emissions; those figures are around 23% better than the old 1.6 petrol it replaces.
 

What's the 2014 Citroen C4 e-THP 130 like to drive?

First, the good news: the new petrol engine. Yes, is pretty vocal if you rev it hard, with a slightly coarser note than the 1.2 and 1.4 TSI engines in VWs, Seats and Skodas. However, that strong low-revs ability means you'll rarely need to do so.

You can change gears at around 2300rpm (it gets a six-speed manual gearbox) and let the turbocharger do the work  – much as you would in a diesel car – and once you're up to a motorway cruise, the engine fades nicely into the background. However, gearchange isn't as precise as the Focus's, while the power is delivered in surges as you up the pace.

The suspension set-up is geared for comfort rather than agility, but it still manages to allow too many imperfections in the road surface through to the cabin both in town and on the motorway.

Body control is pretty slack, too, so there's a fair amount of lean in corners, while the body pitches under acceleration and braking, and the steering is vague and lifeless, with self-centring action that is just plain aggressive.

What's the 2014 Citroen C4 e-THP 130 like inside?

The C4's cabin is unchanged in models with the new engine, so you're getting an interior that's no better than average in a class with extremely high standards. The layout is decent enough, apart from slightly confusing stereo controls, but while you get pleasing materials up high, you don't have to look too far down the fascia to find harder, scratchier plastics.

There's decent space up front for two adults, but while those in the rear are unlikely to complain about headroom, any tall adults there will find legroom more of an issue. 

The boot is big enough and it has a useful square shape, but the rear seats don't fold down completely flat.

Should I buy one?

The C4 should attract a few more petrol buyers with this new engine; it's much more efficient than before, a refined cruiser and offers the sort of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions that customers expect from the latest small turbocharged engines.

However, too many of the car's inherent flaws remain. It somehow manages to be neither comfortable nor agile, the rear cabin is cramped for adults and while you can usually negotiate a hefty discount off what already looks like a keen price, residual values after three years will be poorer than many rivals'.

Good though the new engine is, then, these issues mean that the C4 is still too average a car to recommend against so much strong opposition.


What Car? says...



Rivals

Ford Focus 

Seat Leon

 

Specification C4 e-THP 130
Engine size 1.2-litre turbo petrol
Price from £17,990
Power 129bhp
Torque 170lb ft
0-62mph 10.8 seconds
Top speed 124mph
Fuel economy 58.9mpg
CO2 110g/km

 
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