Friday, 13 April 2012 2:47 PM
Think of C4 and explosives spring to mind.
It is perhaps a little optimistic to expect the Citroen C4 to deliver this type of performance but the 2-litre HDi model tested packs a powerful 150bhp punch nevertheless.
In the week when Francis Maude MP advised everyone to stockpile fuel in jerry cans and petrol stations closed as motorists panicked unduly, the economical Citroen C4 was an excellent vehicle to drive.
It returned well over 50mpg, much to the Chancellor’s frustration. Many spectators questioned whether the run on the pumps was in fact engineered by our out of touch leaders. What else does a cash-strapped government do when it has a shortfall to meet at the end of the tax year?
The poor motorist is such an easy target. Some despicable garages saw fit to actually increase the cost of their fuel during this torrid time (BP filling station, Botley Road, Park Gate, Southampton and many filling stations on the Isle of Wight, for example) by as much as 15 pence a litre. These operators have kept their artificially inflated prices, too. Needless to say that the need for efficient cars has never been greater.
To this end I cannot fault the C4. According to Parkers, the car experts, it does have its faults, though: “The quality of the interior is poor and it doesn’t feel particularly well put together, while the over-assisted steering and vague [six-speed] gearbox mean it’s not rewarding to drive.” I take issue with this statement, finding the interior well finished. It’s a decent driver’s car, which can be enjoyable at faster speeds and through the bends.
The C4’s distinctive styling makes it stand out from Ford, Vauxhall and VW. Not dissimilar to the Peugeot 308 especially from the rear, to some it might be an acquired taste. The large chrome two chevron Citroen logo takes pride of place in the centre of the grille.
As soon as you sit in the driver’s seat a homely feeling comes over you. I’ve never felt this in a car before but put it down to the fact that the seats are positively sofa-like – they feel like your favourite seat at home, springier and bouncier than usual car seats and excellent for soaking up the bumps. These suede and fabric seats are leather edged. Added to which the dashboard is interestingly crafted from more of a rubber than a plastic, which is often the case.
Lock the car and the wing mirrors automatically fold, a helpful feature if parking on a roadside preventing them from being knocked. But this could be improved if they automatically folded when the boot was opened - without requiring the car to be locked – providing peace of mind for those unloading at the roadside. It has a capacious boot, too.
There’s no traditional handbrake, instead a small switch. Personally, I find this a little awkward because firstly there’s a delay in waiting for it to engage and secondly there’s a hill brake that the driver has to put their faith in. This is by no means peculiar to Citroen but I remain unconvinced.
The dash’s digital display takes a little getting used to simply because it is quite a bit different to other cars. But it doesn’t take long to realise where the fuel gauge is and you quickly feel at home. The C4 certainly has a unique personality. Its indicators ‘bleep’ differently to most and there’s a particularly futuristic noise emitted if a seatbelt is not strapped.
There is a useful blind spot alert on the wing mirrors similar to that found in a Volvo – a red light flashes on the wing mirrors.
All in all a strong driver’s car offering an engaging driving experience and economical to boot.
Citroen C4 HDi 150 2-litre diesel
Max speed: 129mph
Combined mpg: 56.5mpg
New price: £21,645