Citroen C4 2011 review
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Funny buggers, us Strayans. Love to go on about what larrikin individualists we are, then we all run out and buy Mazda3s. Try going five minutes in a big city without seeing one. You can't.
Which is just one reason why Citroen's second generation C4 is a tough sell: A point of difference in this most generic of segments should be welcome, but we seem not that keen on difference especially when different doesn't necessarily means better.
This equation is exceptional on the face of it, less so on closer examination with $22,990 to get into the entry C4 Attraction.
This buys either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto to drive an atmo 1.6-litre petrol engine. Pretty basic jigger - rear seat passengers have to wind up their windows and even in top spec there's no rear air-con vents.
From $26,990 the Seduction (yes, I'm afraid so ...) adds the choice of a BMW/PSA sourced-1.6 turbo petrol or one of two diesels, and items like foglights with cornering functions, cruise control with memory and Bluetooth. The diesel gets the robotised manual EGS transmission with stop/start.
The Exclusive level brings blind spot warning, folding mirrors and auto wipers and lights.
The tech highlight is the e-HDI "micro-hybrid" engine, which stores electricity and sends it back into the engine. Teamed with a new gen' stop/start system, driven via the EGS and running Michelin Energy Saver tyres, Citroen claim emissions of 109g/km Co2 and fuel use better than 4L/100km.
Love to tell you how it goes, but only manuals (which almost no-one will buy) were available to test this week. In addition to that old world 4-speed auto in the stripper, all models persist with torsion beam rear suspension.
Where the previous C4 was, and remains, one of the least generic five doors on the road (one which made many think about the double chevron brand for the first time), its successor is going to be altogether harder to find in a carpark - even with $1000 "Rouge Babylon" paint. Vive la indifference, you'd have to say.
You get the distinct feeling Citroen's keeping its design powder dry for the next year's model rollout, featuring the coupe-like DS4, DS5 and the C4 Aircross compact SUV. On paper, at least, these have the flair we'd hoped for here.
Though 380L cargo space is class-leading, passenger space is not, considerably less than a Golf or yes - a Mazda3. Up front, though, the top spec Exclusive is a bit of a treat; a driver-oriented cockpit with intuitive and readily manipulated controls, including the cruise on a wheel that no longer revolves around a fixed hub. You can fiddle with the dash display's light colouring and intensity.
Blind spot warning system comes on the Exclusive, which is a stand out in class. Rear side airbags are optional on the Attraction, which is pretty ordinary. The C4 rates five stars in European crash testing.
You won't get anywhere fast in the Exclusive HDi, but you will get a long way. An introductory drive that was alternatively vigourous then traffic bound saw us use little more than 6L/100km. At highway cruising speed, we'd have made Melbourne from Sydney on what was left.
Indeed, cruising is the HDi's remit; a soft sprung, rolly, (very) tall-geared device that's noisier at freeway speed than you'd like, though that's mainly from the wind. The diesel itself is not only fairly refined, but a doughty, capable unit that we're keen to see teamed with the self-shifter. Meanwhile, here's another French conversion to right-hand-drive that sets the clutch pedal maddeningly irritatingly high.
It's in the driving that the C4 succeeds in standing apart. You can carp at its lack of "sporty" dynamics, but - like the bigger, luxuriantly riding C5 range - that's not what it's here for.
A point of difference among the inevitable choices, we'll need to see how it rolls with an auto for a market relevant conclusion.
Range and Specs
|Attraction VTi||1.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$3,800 – 6,160||2011 Citroen C4 2011 Attraction VTi Pricing and Specs|
|Exclusive||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$6,400 – 9,900||2011 Citroen C4 2011 Exclusive Pricing and Specs|
|Exclusive E-HDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$5,700 – 8,800||2011 Citroen C4 2011 Exclusive E-HDi Pricing and Specs|
|Exclusive HDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$5,500 – 8,580||2011 Citroen C4 2011 Exclusive HDi Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data