C4
C4

Citroen C4: Shine a light

Riley Riley

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What is it?

Our last Citroen was the C5 Aircross a couple of years ago.

We drove the bright orange five-seat SUV all the way from The Blue Mountains to Outback Broken Hill, where it stood out like the proverbials.

To be honest it wasn’t a brand that we would have normally looked to for such a purpose, but the C5 turned out to be an excellent choice.

In fact, it changed our perception of the brand.

Fast forward and the smaller C4 hatch has made a comeback, though in very different form.

Though it may look like an SUV, Citroen describes it as a blend of car, hatch and a coupe.

Whatever floats your boat.

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What’s it cost?

There’s just the one model, the C4 Shine, priced from $37,990 plus on-roads.

Like the C5, it features a down-sized, turbocharged petrol engine, and a three-cylinder one at that.

It certainly sits high enough to be an SUV and has the required, lower protective plastic cladding, and it’s categorised as an SUV for statistical purposes.

But the rear hatch and steeply sloping rear roof line lend an athletic, coupe-look to the profile.

The front with its slimline lights highlights “Citroën LED Vision” technology, with daytime running lights, headlights with three elements and LED fog lights with static corner lighting.

The interior features a wide, minimalist dashboard, bookended by large air vents, with easy to use controls that does away with unnecessary clutter.

It’s quite unique really, with its minimalist 5.5-inch digital instrument panel.

You won’t find any cool navigation graphics here. In fact, cycling through the small screen and its retro graphics produces hardly any visual change at all.

A flip-up style, head-up information panel is provided as standard, and visible to polarised sunglasses,.

It does the job, but is a little large and intrusive.

Rear seat comfort was given plenty of attention during the design process, but legroom still feels a little tight for our liking.

Advanced Comfort seats, designed for long distances, incorporate a high-density layer covered by 15mm-thick textured surface foam, providing a padded effect.

Standard kit includes 18-inch alloys, keyless entry and start, dual climate air, partial leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and a four-way power driver’s seat with massaging.

There’s also auto lights and wipers, automatic high-beam, auto dimming rear-view mirror, LED headlights, daytime running lights and fog lights, static cornering lights, along with front, rear and side parking sensors, electric parking brake, rear privacy glass and heated, power-folding exterior mirrors.

Infotainment comes in the form of a a frameless, ultra-thin, borderless 10.0-inch touchscreen together with six-speaker audio, built-in satellite navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, DAB digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — with the support of high level acoustic insulation.

Curiously, the physical volume control for audio is located on the furthest side from the driver, whether it’s the right or left-hand drive model.

There’s one 12V power outlet in front, along with one USB Type-A socket for charging and one USB Type-C socket for data. 

The second row has just the one USB Type-A socket for charging.

Safety is disappointingly rated at four stars, narrowly falling short in some areas.

It extends to six airbags, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with low light pedestrian and cyclist detection.

There’s also blind spot monitoring, active lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, driver attention alert, colour head-up display and a reversing camera with top-down 360-degree image.

C4 is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with service due every 12 months or 15,000km.

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What’s it go like?

Based on the same platform as the Peugeot 208/2008, Shine is a larger small car, measuring 4355mm in length, 1800mm wide and 1525mm tall, with a 2670mm wheelbase.

The sloping roofline, although it looks terrific, makes backseat entry and exit more difficult than it should be and reduces rear headroom.

The cabin features a lightweight, hollow form dash and soft touch armrest trim, with high-gloss black accents for the air vents, steering wheel, instrument panel, air conditioning fascia, infotainment controls and centre console.

The centre console offers plenty of storage space with lots of other storage available around the cabin.

The front seats are comfy, a good size and heated too.

The driver’s seat features four-way electric adjustment but manual fore and aft adjustment as well as a massage function.

The passengers’ seat has multi-way manual adjustment with electric lumbar adjustment.

The rear seat has a split/fold backrest and the second row features rear air vents and USB charging.

Rapping on the dash and other panels with one’s knuckles reveals plenty of hard plastic, but it looks better than it feels.

The doors feature a curious, angled strip of cloth trim as ornamentation.

Although the large touchscreen looks impressive, much of the screen real estate is given over to aircon controls, so the satnav screen is quite small.

Doubling as a rear-view camera, the screen offers poor vision when it comes to reversing in low light at night.

Power comes from a perky 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 114kW of power at 5500 revs and 240Nm of torque from 1750 revs.

Driving the front wheels is an eight-speed auto (EAT8), with paddle shifters and auto engine stop-start that delivers impressive performance and excellent fuel consumption.

Turbocharging the car basically brings performance up to the level of a 2.0-litre engine, forcing more fuel into the combustion chamber and producing more power as a result.

It also delivers maximum torque earlier in the rev range, giving it more thrust, especially away from the line.

Being a three cylinder engine, it adds a thrummy feel and note to proceedings.

Gear selection is accomplished via a fingertip type push-pull toggle, with separate buttons for park and manual mode and another switch for drive modes.

The toggle works okay, but is virtually invisible at night and can be challenging as your fingers search for it, with backlighting for only the park and manual buttons.

Gear change paddles are also provided for more spirited driving.

The dash from 0-100km/k takes 8.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 207km/h.

The three cylinder turbo delivers a surprising amount of punch for its size, zipping away from the lights and developing a healthy rasp under hard acceleration.

It’s a sound and a feel unique to three cylinder engines.

The 8-speed auto delivers excellent fuel economy, but is often jerky in execution and reminds us of the dead but not forgotten robotised manual the company once offered.

The brakes are grabby too.

The car rides on 18-inch diameter ‘Aeroblade’ alloy wheels.

Much is made of the ride quality which is enhanced by pressurised hydraulic shock absorbers with progressive damping front and rear.

The resulting ride is firmish and not altogether unpleasant, but nothing special otherwise.

Over the shoulder vision is compromised by the roof structure and rear pillars.

Thank goodness Citroen has dispensed with the awful Euro cruise control stalk.

The steering wheel mounted controls are a much better option, but still difficult to adjust.

Rated at 6.1L/100km, we were getting 6.7 from the 50-litre tank after 720km.

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What we like?

  • Cheeky
  • Relatively cheap
  • Good performance
  • Excellent fuel consumption
  • Good sized boot

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What we don’t like?

  • Jerky transmission
  • Tight rear legroom
  • Takes 95 unleaded
  • Head-up panel too large
  • Missing a wireless charge pad

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The bottom line?

I worry for the future of Citroen in this country.

Although it makes some fun and sometimes exciting cars, for some reason no one wants to  buy them.

I guess you could compare it to GM trying to sell Holdens to the French. They’d be suspicious at least – n’est-ce pas?.

I’m not saying the C4 is a great car, but it offers plenty for the price. It’s fun, super stylish, very practical and is an interesting alternative to the lookalike, drivealike competition — and it doesn’t use much gas.

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CHECKOUT: Citroen C3: A little ray of sunshine

CHECKOUT: Citroen C5 Aircross: Broken Hill and back

Citroen C4 Shine, priced from $37,990
  • Looks - 8/10
    8/10
  • Performance - 7/10
    7/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
    8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
    8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
    7/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10
Overall
7.6/10
7.6/10