What Car? says...
The Citroën ë-C4 could be the electric car for you if you're struggling to decide whether to get a family car, an SUV or a coupé – it can justifiably claim to be all three.
What's more, the ë-C4 is currently (pardon the pun) only available with one electric motor and battery combination, so you won't have to spend time poring over the various technical specs before you pick one.
That does mean you can only have a fairly small 50kWh battery, though. We'll address how that affects the distances you can drive it before you need to find a charging point and top it up later on.
You won't be surprised to hear that the ë-C4 is the electrified version of the Citroën C4 coupé SUV, which is available in petrol and diesel forms. We gave the C4 a four-star test-drive rating, and were impressed by its comfy ride and good pricing – but has Citroën made it work as an electric car?
That's what we'll be telling you in this review. It covers the ë-C4's performance, range, charging speeds, passenger and boot space, and running costs, as well as recommending our favourite trim level.
To help you decide whether it's the right choice for you, we'll also compare it with other electric cars that might be on your shortlist. They include electric SUVs such as the Kia e-Niro and Peugeot e-2008 (with which the ë-C4 shares its underpinnings), plus similar sized electric hatchbacks – think of the Nissan Leaf and VW ID.3.
Once you've decided which make and model meets you needs, don't forget that we can help you save thousands of pounds when you buy it. Just search on our free What Car? New Car Buying pages to find the best prices available. It's a good place to find the best new electric car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Citroën ë-C4 comes with a 134bhp motor and a 50kWh battery – although, strictly speaking, the usable amount of charge the battery will hold is 45kWh. That's quite a bit smaller than the VW ID.3 Pro Performance’s 58kWh battery, and is one of the reasons the e-C4’s range isn’t particularly impressive.
Officially, it’ll do 217 miles. When we tested it, the real-world range was more like 139 miles, which is about the same as the Kia e-Niro 39kWh (test range 140 miles) and well behind the ID.3 (test range 197 miles). All three cars were tested in the same conditions at the same time, on a private test track, although not to the more exacting scientific standards of our Real Range tests – we’ll be putting the e-C4 through that assessment as soon as possible.
So, the ë-C4 isn’t the best long-distance electric car for the money, but is it the fastest? Well, no, it isn’t that, either. The best we could extract was 0-60mph in 9.0sec, which is decent (the same as the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense and Peugeot e-2008, for instance) but a long way behind the ID.3’s 6.6sec sprint. You’ll also find that the ë-C4’s acceleration really starts to tail off between 50-70mph, so bear that in mind if you do a lot of motorway driving. Its pace is absolutely fine around town, though.
Suspension and ride comfort
If you something that's cosseting, the ë-C4 is a car worth looking at. Citroën has set it up to be quite soft, making for a relatively settled ride over minor imperfections on motorways, while also cushioning you well over bigger ruts and speed bumps around town. It's similar in that respect to the e-2008, and is certainly less jarring than the firmer ID.3.
It’s not perfect, though. If you hit something with a sharp edge, like a particularly nasty pothole, it twangs loudly. Because it’s softer, there’s a lot more vertical body bounce along a country road strewn with lumps and bumps than there is in the ID.3. Mind you, it’s not as bad in that environment as the rather under-damped DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.
Don’t buy the ë-C4 if handling finesse is something you’re keen to enjoy. That’s not to imply it’s skittish, because it’s actually an easy car to drive, either in town or on faster roads, with light, yet faithful steering and decent enough grip.
It couldn’t care less about feeling sporty, though. There’s quite a bit of body lean – although not as much as the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense has – and it’s nowhere near as agile as the ID.3. The e-Niro is also a sharper car to drive, most appreciably if you go for the more expensive Long Range 64kWh model – the 39kWh version isn’t as stable or balanced.
Noise and vibration
At motorway speeds the ë-C4 is very quiet. Rather like the e-2008, it cuts out a lot of the road roar that you hear in the e-Niro and ID.3. There’s some wind noise, but it’s not intrusive.
We count brake pedal feel (rather than ultimate stopping power) in with refinement, too, because if you can’t stop smoothly, that’s not exactly refined, right? The ë-C4’s regenerative brakes, which capture energy and feed it back into the battery when you slow down, do leave you with a light brake pedal, but they still have enough progression to let you stop gracefully.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
You sit lower in the Citroën ë-C4 than you do in most SUVs, but it still offers a higher driving position than hatchbacks, such as the Nissan Leaf and VW ID.3. The seat is broader and more cosseting than in the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense and Peugeot e-2008, and because adjustable lumbar support is standard across the range, it’s great for long trips on the motorway. Side support in tight bends is a little lacking, though.
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 – something to bear in mind if you have a partner with a different driving position to you. Getting comfortable is simpler in the Kia e-Niro and ID.3, both of which have a better arrangement of their driver’s seat, steering wheel and pedals.
More positively, the ë-C4 has physical knobs and buttons for controlling its air conditioning. Making small adjustments on the move is so much easier with these than with the ID.3’s frustratingly fiddly touch-sensitive controls. All models come with digital instruments and a head-up display, which projects the speed into your line of sight.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The ë-C4’s thick windscreen pillars can cause problems at junctions. And, as in 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. It’s certainly easier to see out of the e-Niro and ID.3.
That means you’ll need to rely on the ë-C4’s visibility aids. Thankfully, all trims come with rear parking sensors and a 360-degree surround-view camera. Mid-level Shine trim adds to this with front and lateral parking sensors. LED headlights are standard across the range, unlike on the e-Niro.
Sat nav and infotainment
All ë-C4s have a 10.0in touchscreen but, because it permanently displays the interior temperature settings on either side, the useable screen area is more like 8.0in. Still, the screen is mounted high up in the middle of the dashboard, so it’s easy to see and play with, and its resolution is high.
The operating system it runs isn’t as intuitive or as responsive as the e-Niro’s, but it’s miles better than the ID.3’s in both regards. You also get a long list of infotainment features, including in-built sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and voice control, while the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means that you can access your phone’s apps via the car’s screen – a useful option, because it bypasses the Citroën software. Wireless smartphone charging is standard on range-topping Shine Plus trim.
It’s also snazzier than the slightly sombre-looking e-Niro, and the materials feel much plusher than the ID.3’s, which are pretty much all hard plastic. On top of that, everything feels screwed together well, too. In this class, it’s only really the BMW i3 and Mazda MX-30 that feel noticeably posher.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
While the Citroën ë-C4 isn’t especially spacious up front, it’s roomier than it feels; the close proximity of the windscreen pillars can leave you feeling a little hemmed in, but, in reality, six-footers fit easily enough. That’s true even if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof, but if you’re super tall and still worried, there is a little more space in the front of the VW ID.3.
There are also some thoughtful storage touches, including a dedicated area for your smartphone and 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 ë-C4 with greater ease than they would in the cramped Mazda MX-30, and they’ll have plenty of room for their feet beneath the front seats. However, they won’t have as much head or leg room to spare as they would in the Kia e-Niro or ID.3.
Shoulder room becomes tight if you add a middle passenger, too, and there’s a good chance that they will have to duck, because head room is tighter for anyone sitting on the raised-up centre seat.
Seat folding and flexibility
The ë-C4’s rear seats don’t do anything clever, such as sliding or reclining. But, as with most small electric cars, you can fold down the 60/40 split backrests by pulling levers next to the outer rear head restraints.
A ski hatch is only available on the top-spec Shine Plus trim, and cannot be added as an option, unlike with the regular C4.
We were able to fit five carry-on suitcases beneath the ë-C4’s parcel shelf – that’s better than the MX-30 and matches the capacity of the e-Niro and ID.3, but you can get more in the boot of a Nissan Leaf.
The ë-C4’s boot floor is height adjustable, with only a small lip to lift luggage over when it’s in its highest position. If you raise this up, it also levels out the extended boot floor when you drop the rear seat backs – the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense doesn’t have this feature, leaving you with an awkward step.
There’s also some useful under-floor storage for the charging cables, so the boot is free for luggage. Again, that’s not something the DS 3 Crossback has, and nor does the ID.3.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
When viewed against similarly-sized electric cars, such as the 39kWh Kia e-Niro and VW ID.3, the Citroën ë-C4 is competitively priced. However, if you care about range and versatility more than an elevated driving position and style, you can get the Long Range MG5 which will go significantly further for a lot less money. Resale values for the ë-C4 will at least exceed the e-Niro and MG5, but are way behind those of the ID.3.
If you’re a private buyer purchasing on a PCP finance deal, the monthly payments should be pretty appealing in comparison with an e-Niro. As with all electric cars, company car users will be paying very little benefit-in-kind tax for the next few years.
As far as charging is concerned, the ë-C4 can charge at up to 100kW, which, if you can find a charger at a service station, will get you from 10-80% charged in around 30mins – quicker than an e-Niro 39kWh. A 7kW home wall box will charge it from empty to full around 7hrs.
Equipment, options and extras
We’d be tempted to stick with the entry-level Sense Plus. Not only does it bring the sat-nav system, digital instruments, head-up display, rear parking sensors and rear-view camera that we’ve already discussed, but also dual-zone climate control, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, automatic headlights and wipers, and LED interior lighting.
Shine trim isn’t a whole lot more and also well worth a look if you fancy the additions of privacy glass, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry, automatically dipping headlights and adaptive cruise control, which keeps you a set distance from the car in front.
Top-spec Shine Plus adds leather upholstery, plus heated and electrically adjustable front seats with massaging functions.
Although the ë-C4 didn’t feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, Citroën as a brand was right in the middle of the pack, coming 11th out of 30. That put it below Hyundai, Kia and Mazda, but above Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen.
Similarly, the three-year warranty that you get is pretty average, and no match for Hyundai’s or Renault’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty or Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile package.
Safety and security
The list of safety equipment you get as standard across the ë-C4 range includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist and speed limit information. Mid-spec Shine models add to this with blind-spot monitoring and a more advanced AEB system that can detect cyclists. The upgraded AEB can also be added to entry-level Sense Plus models as part of the pricey optional Safety Pack Plus.
Disappointingly, the ë-C4 only gets a four star rating from Euro NCAP, whereas rivals including the ID.3 get the full five. There were concerns over passenger leg injuries in the frontal crash test, and the potential for the front seat occupants to collide with each other in side impacts because of a lack of central airbag between the two.
An alarm and immobiliser both come as standard on all versions.
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|RRP price range||£19,495 - £37,195|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||5|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric, petrol, diesel|
|MPG range across all versions||50.7 - 60.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£64 / £1,635|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£129 / £3,269|