What Car? says...
The Citroën C4 is rather tricky to define. While most cars 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.
The C4 may be about the same size as family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, but its pumped-up wheel arches and high seating are more SUV-like, and the curved roofline is pure coupé. So, it must be the latest car to enter the burgeoning coupé SUV class, right?
Well, kind of – it certainly looks as though it's from the same category as the Audi Q3 Sportback and BMW X2. The C4 is much cheaper, though, and is priced closer to the hatchbacks, as well as more traditionally shaped family SUVs such as the Mazda CX-30 and Skoda Karoq.
Making it even harder to pigeonhole is the fact that as well as the traditional petrol and diesel options, there’s also a pure-electric version (which we've reviewed separately) called the Citroën ë-C4.
In a world where car makers often want their models to be seen as sporty, with firm suspension and figure-hugging seats, all C4’s are fitted with what Citroën calls Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension and have Advance Comfort seats, designed to provide maximum comfiness.
In this Citroën C4 review, we’ll look at whether it delivers on that promise, and tell you everything else you need to know about the performance, cost, interior and more.
We'll also tell you how it compares with rival cars – whether they're in the family car, family SUVs or coupe SUV category – including the BMW X2, the Ford Focus, the Mazda CX-30, the Seat Leon and the VW Golf.
When you do buy a new car of any make or model, we can help you save thousands off the list price when you search our free What Car? New Car Buying pages. They're a good place to find the best new family SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Citroën C4's single petrol option is a 1.2-litre turbo, but it's available in three outputs: 99bhp, 128bhp and 153bhp. The base 99bhp version is a capable performer, despite what the 11.3sec 0-62mph time would suggest, because it has plenty of mid-range grunt.
If you regularly carry passengers, you’ll want the stronger 128bhp version, which cuts acceleration times to 8.9sec, which is only 0.4sec behind the pricier 153bhp. That doesn’t make it a rocket ship, but it’ll get you up to 70mph easily enough and pulls harder from low revs than a Mazda CX-30 Skyactiv petrol.
The other traditional engine available in the C4 is a 1.5-litre diesel, producing 108bhp or 128bhp. The least powerful of the two is fairly quick off the line and will get you up to motorway speeds with no real bother. The more powerful version (badged BlueHDI 130) has even more low to mid-range shove than the 128bhp 1.2 Puretech 130 petrol, making it an effortless motorway cruiser.
To find out how the battery-powered version of the C4 performs, see our dedicated Citroën ë-C4 review.
Suspension and ride comfort
We mentioned in the Introduction section that Citroën makes some bold claims about comfort in the C4, and 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 diesel models due to the extra weight of their heavier engines.
The downside of the Citroën C4’s set-up is that it can get quite bouncy over undulating country roads.
While Citroën is obsessed with comfort, it seems not to care much about sportiness – the C4 leans over dramatically if you try to turn into a bend at speed.
It’s not unpleasant to steer, responding faithfully enough to your inputs and letting go gradually when it starts to wash wide in a corner. 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 Seat Leon.
Noise and vibration
Despite having only three-cylinders, the Citroën 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, 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 do get used to this with time, but if you enjoy changing gears yourself, the BMW X2’s manual 'box has a more precise shift action that offers greater satisfaction. In fact, we’d rather stump up the extra for the optional eight-speed automatic. 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.
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 conventional hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and 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, which 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. Unless you go for the cheapest trim, you get a head-up display that projects your speed into your line of sight.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The C4’s thick windscreen pillars can cause problems at junctions. As with most cars with swooping, coupé-like rooflines, the view out of the rear window gives you a good idea of what it must be like to be trapped inside a post box.
Entry-level Sense models get rear parking sensors to help mitigate that, but we’d climb up to the second rung on the trim ladder – Sense Plus – because it adds a rear-view camera.
All trim levels get automatic wipers and bright automatic LED headlights to increase visibility at night. Shine trim takes that one step further by adding automatic main beam control.
Sat nav and infotainment
All Citroën 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 X2 and 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 via the car’s screen. Sat-nav with live traffic alerts joins the roster if you step up to Sense Plus trim, while wireless smartphone-charging is standard on range-topping Shine Plus cars.
The standard six-speaker audio system sounds fine, but audiophiles can upgrade to an optional eight-speaker system on Shine models (standard on Shine Plus) for a reasonable sum.
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 X2, but you probably wouldn’t expect that. More importantly, the only mainstream rival that’s significantly classier is the CX-30.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Citroën C4 isn’t especially spacious up front and it 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, even if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof.
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.
Two adults will fit in the back of the C4 and have plenty of room for their feet beneath the front seats. They won’t have much head or leg room to spare, though, and some more traditionally styled family cars and family SUVs are better in this respect.
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.
Seat folding and flexibility
The Citroën 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.
At 380 litres, the Citroën C4’s boot is about the same size as the one in the Toyota C-HR but while that means it will take five carry-on suitcases beneath its parcel shelf, you can get seven in the BMW X2. Even traditional family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and Skoda Scala will take six and seven respectively.
More positively, the boot floor is height adjustable, with only a small lip to lift luggage over when it’s in its highest position.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
While there are a lot of coupé SUVs these days, the vast majority wear premium badges that bring premium price tags. The Citroën C4, however, makes the same blend of swoopy looks and elevated seating much more affordable.
It's 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 110 and BlueHDI 130 diesels will both do over 60mpg on the WLTP test cycle, so you’ll spend even less time at the pumps. You’d need to do a lot of miles to break even once its higher purchase price is taken into account, though, and its official CO2 emissions (which affect your company car tax rate) aren’t that much lower than those of the C4's petrol engines.
Servicing costs should be in line with what you'd pay when running a conventional family hatchback, and the C4 is even expected to hold on to a bigger proportion of its value over three years than an equivalent BMW X2, although not as well as an Audi Q3 Sportback.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level Sense cars come with dual-zone climate control, front and rear electric windows, and cruise control.
We’d still be tempted to upgrade to Sense Plus, though. Not only does it bring the sat-nav system, head-up display and reversing camera we’ve already discussed, but also an extra charging port, LED interior lighting and improved security.
Shine Citroën C4 models add tinted rear windows, keyless entry, automatically dipping headlights and adaptive cruise control to keep you a set distance from the car in front. Shine Plus gets you all that, plus leather upholstery, a superior sound system, wireless phone-charging and heated front seats.
The C4 didn’t feature in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey but Citroën as a brand was right in the upper half of the pack, coming 11th out of 30. That's below Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, and Toyota, but above Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.
The three-year warranty Citroën gives you is pretty average, and no match for Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty or Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile package.
Safety and security
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 Shine models upgrade the AEB system to one that can detect cyclists.
In terms of security, there is no alarm on the entry-level model, but you get one as standard on second-rung Sense Plus cars and above.
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|RRP price range||£22,080 - £37,195|
|Number of trims (see all)||5|
|Number of engines (see all)||5|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, diesel, electric|
|MPG range across all versions||50.2 - 60.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£64 / £1,676|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£128 / £3,353|