Citroën C4 review

Category: Small SUV

The C4 is a temptingly priced SUV that offers impressive comfort and refinement 

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  • Citroën C4 interior infotainment
  • Citroën C4 interior aircon controls
  • Citroën C4 interior detail
  • Citroën C4 interior detail
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  • Citroën C4 interior dashboard
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  • Citroën C4 interior driver display
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  • Citroën C4 interior front seats
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  • Citroën C4 interior infotainment
  • Citroën C4 interior aircon controls
  • Citroën C4 interior detail
  • Citroën C4 interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Citroën C4 is rather tricky to define. While most cars and SUVs fit neatly into a box and it’s obvious which rival models they’ve been designed to steal sales from, that's not the case here.

Let's start with the fact that the C4 is in the same length territory as the Ford Focus and VW Golf family hatchbacks. However, it has pumped-up wheel arches and a high seating position that make it more of a small SUV – plus a curved roofline that's pure coupé SUV.

In terms of price, the C4 is closer to family cars and family SUVs than the coupé styled Audi Q3 Sportback and BMW X2, so we reckon its main rivals are the Mazda CX-30, the Skoda Karoq and the VW Taigo.

Straddling classes isn’t a bad thing of course, but does the Citroën C4 do it well enough to be the pick of its class(es) – or are more focused rivals better buys? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Citroën C4 is very temptingly priced for a coupé SUV, while comfort and refinement also impress. On the minus side, you pay for its cushiness with roly-poly handling and there are more practical cars and SUVs available. Our recommended engine is the PureTech 130 petrol and mid-spec Plus is our favourite trim.

  • Comfortable ride
  • Little wind or road noise
  • Well priced
  • Body lean in bends
  • Boot is on the small side
  • No alarm on entry-level model
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Our Pick

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Citroen C4 1.2 PureTech [130] Plus 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Citroën C4's single petrol engine option is a 1.2-litre turbo, but it's available in two outputs: 99bhp and 128bhp.

The 99bhp version is a capable performer (despite what its 10.8 seconds 0-62mph time might suggest) because it has lots of mid-range grunt. But if you regularly carry passengers, you'll want the 128bhp engine.

That cuts the 0-62mph time to 8.9 seconds, which doesn't exactly make it a rocket ship but does get you up to 70mph easily enough. It pulls harder from low revs than a Mazda CX-30 e-Skyactiv petrol and would be our pick. 

The other traditional engine available in the C4 is a 1.5-litre diesel producing 128bhp. Badged the BlueHDI 130, it has even more low to mid-range shove than the 128bhp petrol engine, making it an effortless motorway cruiser. 

You can also get an all-electric version too – to find out about that, see our Citroën ë-C4 review.

Suspension and ride comfort

Every C4 is fitted with Advanced Comfort Suspension, and Citroën makes some bold claims about the comfort it affords you. The good news is that there’s substance to go with them.

The suspension is properly soft, allowing it to glide over minor imperfections in the road surface and cushion you from most ruts and potholes.

It’s only when you come across something with a really sharp edge that you feel a sudden thwack. It's a little more pronounced in the diesel model due to the extra weight of its heavier engine.

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Handling

While Citroën is obsessed with comfort, it seems not to care much about sportiness – the C4 leans over dramatically if you try to turn in to a bend at speed. But then, the C4 was never designed to be a sports car.

Citroën C4 image
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With that in mind, it’s not unpleasant to steer, especially around town, its light steering responding faithfully enough to your inputs. Even when driving normally along a country road, you get enough feedback to know when the front end is about to wash wide.

If you want something that’s agile and entertaining, you’d be much better off with the BMW X2 or traditional family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and the Seat Leon.

Noise and vibration

Despite having only three-cylinders, the C4's Puretech 130 engine is a fairly smooth operator that only becomes vocal when worked hard. Even then, it’s no worse than the 35 TFSI engine you'll find in the Audi Q3 Sportback.

True, the Ford Focus’s 1.0 Ecoboost engine is quieter still, but wind and road noise are very well suppressed in the C4, and it’s a far more relaxing motorway cruiser than the BMW X2. The 1.5 BlueHDI is surprisingly hushed at a cruise, but it does produce a bit of a grumble when cold and sends the odd vibration through the controls when worked hard.

Elsewhere, the standard-fit six-speed gearbox suffers from an overly light clutch pedal and a vague action. You get used to it over time, but the manual Focus has a more precise shift action that offers greater satisfaction. 

Top-spec Max trim comes with the option of an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s not perfect and can be a little abrupt at parking speeds, but once you're on the move it's smooth and quick to respond when you need a burst of acceleration.

"It's properly comfy, this C4. Passengers in particular appreciate that, especially around urban areas where the roads are so poorly surfaced. It's not the last word in handling finesse, admittedly, but it's worth it for the serenity." - Lawrence Cheung, new cars editor

Driving overview

Strengths Comfortable ride; little wind and road noise; decent engines;

Weaknesses  Lots of lean through bends; light clutch pedal; can be bouncy over undulations

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

You sit lower down in the Citroën C4 than in most SUVs, but higher than in the BMW X2 or family cars such as the Ford Focus and the VW Golf.

Meanwhile, the seat itself is cosseting on motorways (adjustable lumbar support is standard across the range), if a little lacking in side support for cornering.

Some of our testers found that it took quite a bit of fiddling with the seat height and steering wheel before they felt totally at ease, which is worth bearing in mind if you and your partner have different driving positions and will both be driving the car.

More positively, the C4 has physical knobs and buttons for controlling its air conditioning. That makes it much easier to adjust the temperature on the move than if Citroën had placed them on a touchscreen menu, as it does in some of its other models.

Opting for the Plus trim and up adds a head-up display that projects your speed into your line of sight.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Seeing out of the front of the C4 at junctions is easy enough, but the same can’t be said for the view out of the rear. You see, as with most cars with coupé-like rooflines, the rear window is quite small. Not helping matters is the rear spoiler that’s been placed right across the centre.  

Luckily, all C4s come with rear parking sensors. Plus trim adds a rear-view camera and top-spec Max trim adds front parking sensors.

All trim levels get automatic wipers and bright automatic LED headlights to increase visibility at night.

Citroën C4 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All C4s have a 10.0in touchscreen mounted high up in the middle of the dashboard. It's not as user-friendly as the rotary controllers fitted to the BMW X2 and the Mazda CX-30 but it has a more intuitive operating system than the touchscreen in the Toyota C-HR.

You get a long list of infotainment features, including a DAB radio, Bluetooth and voice control, while the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means you can access your phone’s apps, such as Spotify and Google Maps via the car’s screen. That’s good because the entry-level You trim misses out on the built-in sat-nav you’ll find in all the other trims. 

The standard six-speaker audio system sounds fine, but we think audiophiles will prefer the eight-speaker system on the top-spec Max models. It’s still not up there with the best systems in the class, but gives a deeper, richer sound than the stereo in the lower trims.

Quality

The C4 interior is one of the best from Citroën yet, mixing good build quality with a pleasing palette of materials. The design looks more grown-up than in the smaller Citroën C3 Aircross but remains interesting.

The C4 doesn’t feel as posh inside as the Audi Q3 Sportback or the BMW X2, but you probably wouldn’t expect that. More importantly, the only mainstream rival that’s significantly classier is the CX-30.

"Although it initially looks a little grey inside, you soon realise that the C4 uses some nice soft-touch materials, especially where you meet them with your eye or hand. Those physical controls for the air-con are a real boon, too." - Steve Huntingford, editor

Interior overview

Strengths Physical air-con controls; intuitive infotainment; good quality

Weaknesses Poor rear visibility; driver’s seat could do with more side support

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

The Citroën C4 isn’t especially spacious up front and certainly doesn’t feel as roomy as the interior dimension figures would suggest. Your close proximity to the windscreen pillars can leave you feeling a little hemmed in, but six-footers fit easily enough.

There are some thoughtful storage touches, including a dedicated area for your smartphone and (on all but the entry-level trim) a tray that slides out of the passenger’s side of the dashboard to which you can clip a tablet computer.

Rear space

Two adults will fit in the back of the C4 and have plenty of room for their feet beneath the front seats, but there isn’t all that much actual leg room. Likewise, owing to that stylish roofline, head room is tight for six footers, even compared with the equally swoopy VW Taigo.

Shoulder room becomes tight if you add a middle passenger, and there’s a good chance they will have to duck due to the slightly raised seat.

If you regularly transport a full load of passengers, you’ll likely be better off looking at more traditionally styled small SUV, such as the Skoda Karoq.

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Seat folding and flexibility

The C4’s rear seats don’t do anything clever, such as sliding or reclining. As with most family hatchbacks, you can fold down the 60/40 split backrests by pulling levers next to the outer rear head restraints.

Once dropped, the backrests lie virtually flat, leaving you with a more or less uninterrupted load floor all the way to the front seats.

Boot space

At 380 litres, the C4’s boot managed to swallow five carry-on suitcases in our tests. For comparison, the Skoda Scala managed seven cases, while the Nissan Juke and the Toyota C-HR each took six. 

The C4's boot is smaller than you get in the VW Taigo, while the Peugeot 408 and the Renault Arkana also beat it, with more than 400 litres of storage. 

More positively, the boot floor is height adjustable, with only a small lip to lift luggage over when it’s in its highest position.

"It's not the largest car in this class for interior space, but it's pleasant enough for four. Some space is perhaps lost to its styling, which is swoopy enough to turn heads." - Dan Jones, reviewer

Practicality overview

Strengths Height adjustable boot floor; lots of interior storage

Weaknesses Smaller boot than rivals; tight rear space

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

While there are a lot of SUVs with coupé styling these days, the vast majority wear premium badges that bring premium price tags. The Citroën C4, though, makes the same blend of swoopy looks and elevated seating more affordable.

The entry-level C4 costing less than the Peugeot 408, the Renault Arkana and the VW Taigo, and is more in line with the Skoda Scala family car and the VW T-Cross small SUV.

Depreciation is predicted to be at about the same rate as for the 408 and Nissan Juke, but faster than the Arkana. That can have an impact on how much your PCP finance monthly payments will be, but the C4’s cheaper price tag means it’ll still be comfortably cheaper each month. You can check the latest offers on our new Citroën deals page.

The C4 is a pretty efficient choice, too. The Puretech 130 petrol averages more than 50mpg on the official WLTP test cycle and emits as little as 120g/km of CO2. The BlueHDI 130 diesel will do over 60mpg on the WLTP test cycle, so you’ll spend even less time at the pumps.

Note that you'd need to do a lot of miles to break even once the diesel's higher price is taken into account, and its official CO2 emissions – which affect your company car tax rate – are not that much lower than those of the C4's petrol engines. As a company car, the electric Citroën ë-C4 will be cheaper.

Equipment, options and extras

Despite the tempting price tag, entry-level You cars still come with plenty of standard equipment, including 18in alloy wheels, electrically heated and adjusted door mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, LED headlights, touchscreen infotainment and rear parking sensors.

We’d still upgraded to mid-spec Plus trim, though. That’s partly because it gives you access to our favourite engine and partly due to all the added equipment that it comes with, including the built-in sat-nav, head-up display and rear-view camera.

Top-spec Max models come with even more kit, including Alcantara around the interior, keyless entry and start, tinted windows, automatic full-beam, heated front seats, front parking sensors, the upgraded sound system and wireless phone-charging.

Citroën C4 interior driver display

Reliability

The C4 didn’t feature in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Citroën as a brand placed just within the upper half of the pack, coming 14th out of the 32 included car makers. That’s below Toyota and Mazda, but above most other rival brands.

Citroën offers a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and a 12-year anti-perforation warranty. That’s fairly standard, and doesn’t come close to Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty or Toyota’s warranty, which lasts for up to 10 years.

Safety and security

When tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP, the C4 scored four stars out of five. It’s disappointing that it didn’t score the full five stars, but it at least proved pretty good at protecting adults in the front and children in the rear. In fact, it was mainly let down by its so so ability to protect vulnerable road users outside of the vehicle. 

The list of safety equipment that’s standard across the C4 range includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist and speed limit information, while Plus models upgrade the AEB system to one that can detect cyclists and Max adds blind-spot monitoring. 

In terms of security, there is no alarm on the entry-level model, but you get one as standard on second-rung Plus cars and above.

"There's no doubting the attractive pricing of the C4, and once you've bought one it won't cost a fortune to run. There's plenty of standard equipment too." - Will Nightingale, reviews editor

Costs overview

Strengths Temptingly priced; loads of standard kit; efficient engines 

Weaknesses So-so warranty; no alarm on entry-level model

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FAQs

  • It’s hard to place the C4 in a category, but its raised driving position means it could be described as a small SUV and because of its sweeping coupé roof – a coupé SUV.

  • Our favourite C4 is a combination of the mid-spec Plus trim and the PureTech 130 petrol engine. That keeps the cost reasonable but still gets you loads of standard equipment and an efficient engine with good performance.

  • No matter which engine you go for, the C4 should be impressively efficient. Indeed, both petrol engines will officially manage more than 50mpg while the diesel can achieve 60mpg.

At a glance
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Target Price from £19,295
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From £16,490
RRP price range £19,720 - £36,960
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, electric
MPG range across all versions 50.7 - 62.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £64 / £1,604
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £128 / £3,207
Available colours