Citroën C4 long-term test
The Citroën C4 family hatchback was recently reinvented as a coupé SUV. We've already lived with the electric car version, but now we're seeing how the petrol compares...
The car Citroën C4 Puretech 130 S&S Sense Plus Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer
Why it’s here To see if petrol power is just as appealing as electric in Citroën's coupé-styled SUV
Needs to Have enough space for all my photography kit, keep me in touch with the office and be comfortable for long trips
Mileage 16,459 List price £23,010 Target Price £22,061 Price as tested £24,805 Test economy 48.7mpg Private price now £17,036 Dealer price now £19,165 Trade-in price now £16,632 Running costs £3900 (fuel)
26 April 2022 – Graduation day
When the Citroën C4 turned up at my door, it had a number of tough acts to follow. Having previously run enormous, go-anywhere pick-up trucks and a seven-seat SUV, I had some trepidation about whether downsizing was the right move. How would I get all of my photography gear, and myself, into a vehicle of the C4’s modest proportions? Well, after six months of ownership and more than 15,000 miles covered, I’m pleased to say that I needn’t have worried.
The coupé-like styling of my C4 ensures that it stands out from the rest of the SUV crowd. Indeed, I have fallen in love with the way my car looks, and although it may be stretching things too far to say that parts of it look like they’ve come from a high-end sports or performance car, the large air vents on the lower front bumper, for example, I do think my car looks more aggressive than a lot of other family sized SUVs. And I like that.
Those looks don’t come at the expense of practicality, either. Citroën managed to eke out every last inch of space in the C4, so I never struggled to fit all of my photographic equipment inside. I was also pleased to find plenty of space for odds and ends, so my wallet, keys, phone and drinks bottles always had a home.
Like any in-market car buyer should, I made sure to do my research before picking the C4, and having read Al Clements’ reports on the larger C5 Aircross SUV, and Allan Muir’s opinions on the electric e-C4, I was excited to find out if my combustion-engined C4 offered the comfortable ride that my colleagues had experienced. And it certainly did. In fact, getting into the C4 for a long motorway trip home never felt like a chore; it excelled on those big-mile journeys, cushioning any blows from lumps or bumps in the road.
This smooth ride had another fringe benefit, albeit one that probably appeals mainly automotive photographers. In order to get the exciting car-to-car tracking pictures that you see online and in print, we use a car ahead of the subject as a moving platform, and getting that perfect shot means we need one that’s stable, with a smooth ride that won’t jolt us around. The C4 quickly became my favourite car for this job, fitting the bill better than many more expensive models.
The 1.2-litre, 128bhp petrol engine in my C4 wasn’t the last word in absolute performance, but there’s a good reason why we consistently recommend this engine across the Peugeot and Citroën line-up – it’s punchy enough for most situations, it pulls strongly from low revs and is economical to boot. The fact that I got so close to the C4’s official fuel economy figure during my time with it is testament to that, and even though I was often travelling fully loaded, I rarely felt the need to put my foot down to pick up speed.
I opted for a six-speed manual gearbox in my C4 because I found myself missing the more tactile driving sensation that a manual brings, after having run cars with automatic gearboxes for so long. I enjoyed the light shift action and short throw of the C4’s gearbox, and I wouldn’t hesitate to choose this again.
The number of coupé-styled SUVs that buyers can choose from is growing by the day, it seems, but my C4 remains one of the few options at the cheaper end of the market, and that’s why it shines so brightly in my opinion. It provided all the wow factor I wanted from my new car, at a very sensible price. Add in that it’s proved to be perfectly practical for my needs, economical and decent to drive, and has even helped me in my day job, and I’d say this photographer’s apprentice has graduated with honours. I wouldn’t hesitate to employ one again.
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