Citroën e-C4 long-term test
Citroën has reinvented its family hatchback, turning it into a coupé SUV and introducing an electric version for the first time. We're finding out what it's like to live with...
The car Citroën e-C4 50kWh Shine Plus Run by Allan Muir, managing editor
Why we’re running it To find out whether Citroën has finally got the recipe right with its new family hatchback cum coupé SUV, and to see how well the battery-powered version stacks up against its small electric car rivals
Needs to Deliver on Citroën's promise of exceptional comfort while being easy to live with and having a long enough range to be viable as an only car
Mileage 3905 List price £34,995 (not including £2500 gov’t grant) Target Price £33,457 Price as tested £35,540 Test range 160 miles Dealer price now £28,800 Private price now £26,400 Trade-in price now £26,285 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Electricity £105
9 November 2021 – Leaving my comfort zone
Given the choice, you’d rather be comfortable than uncomfortable, right? Unless you happen to be into camping (in which case all bets are off), comfort is a state that we all strive to achieve, whether you’re talking about your lifestyle, the bed you sleep in, the clothes you wear or the car you drive.
But in the automotive world, true comfort can be hard to come by, unless you can afford a full-on luxury car. A surprising number of cars have trouble coping with typical British roads, forcing us to put up with a firm, unsettled or crashy ride and excessive road noise, and none of this makes for a very relaxing way to travel. The Citroën e-C4 is a notable exception, though, as I’ve come to appreciate during my time with my car.
At any speed and over pretty much any road surface, the softly sprung e-C4 rides more like a Mercedes S-Class than what you might expect of a sub-£35,000 electric hatchback cum coupé SUV, gliding along in a smooth, calm manner that I found particularly agreeable. It had no trouble soaking up speed humps and other urban obstacles, and it was even more relaxed on the motorway. Leaving aside the issue of range for a moment, the e-C4 made a great cruiser, aided by exceptionally low noise levels.
Despite its lack of sporting pretensions, the e-C4 could be quite enjoyable to drive, too. Its very light, quick steering took some getting used to, but it made the car feel agile and responsive compared with the weightier Volkswagen ID.3, for example. The e-C4 was a doddle to drive around town, yet it had enough composure that it didn’t feel out of its depth along winding country roads.
Although I had to set the cosseting driver’s seat slightly lower than I’d have considered ideal so that my head could clear the relatively low roof (and the hard, sharp-edged grab handle above the door opening), I found the driving position excellent, even over long distances. The steeply raked, two-piece rear screen (with no wiper) hindered rearward visibility slightly and left a relatively small boot space, but the car proved practical enough for my needs.
The e-C4 was also big on convenience and ease of use. From the foolproof charging process to the slick automatic keyless entry, well-judged driver aids and the simple functionality of its relatively conventional dashboard layout, the car seemed to go out of its way to be as user-friendly as possible – although an over-abundance of shiny black trim panels meant the interior often looked frustratingly grubby, forcing me to keep a cleaning cloth handy.
The only real caveat when it comes to e-C4 ownership is its underwhelming range. Despite a decent (but far from class-leading) official range of 217 miles, my car struggled to cover more than 160 miles before needing a top-up, even during the summer months. To be clear, this was perfectly adequate for my needs and allowed me to take a three-day, 450-mile break down in West Somerset without too much difficulty, but I still found myself thinking about the next charging stop more than I'd have liked.
The replacement for the e-C4 is going to be an ID.3, which promises to deliver the sort of 200-mile-plus real-world range I’m looking for. But even though we rate the ID.3 highly, it’ll have its work cut out to trump the e-C4 in my affections.
Yes, I wish the e-C4 could go farther between charges, but even so, it has been a thoroughly likeable car to live with. In fact, it has exceeded all my expectations, especially on the comfort side. Just as my wardrobe is slowly but surely filling up with trousers with elasticated waistbands, I’m now so used to being pampered by the car I drive that I’m reluctant to give that up.
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