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Citroen C4 2006 Review

That is of course, providing a car that embodies so much of French automotive quirkiness is your cup of tea.

Citroen, Peugeot and Renault continue to turn out cars that are well, different, to the work of most other carmakers.

It's their belief in alternate fuel technologies, the technical marvels in the Citroen C4, the distinctive large rear of the Renault Megane and their out-and-out quirkiness that continues to set them apart.

And now the arrival of the C4 as a diesel takes it one step further.

The C4 HDi comes in one configuration, a five-door hatch with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission. However, while the 1.6-litre engine has the same power output as its petrol sibling, it boasts a significant leap in torque, up from 147Nm to 240Nm.

The driver particularly notices that low down while changing up through the second and third gears.

The C4 also has an engine overboost function that enables the motor to increase torque to 260Nm under acceleration for a maximum 90 seconds. It is self-regulated to ensure the all-important fuel economy is not harmed by a lead-footed driver.

The car currently comes only as a manual, however Citroen announced last week that an automatic is on the way, possibly by the end of the year.

The company also has the opportunity to put the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine, currently found in the C5 sedan, into the smaller car. And there is even the prospect of future C4 cars being powered by hybrid-diesel engines — technology currently that is being examined by the French.

Citroen spokesman Edward Rowe says diesel sales currently account for only 20per cent of C4 sales as the Australian market slowly begins to accept the alternate fuel.

However, the company is looking to the experience shown with the C5 that now has 80per cent diesel sales in Australia — admittedly from a small overall figure.

Diesel produces two key results, fuel economy and the love it or hate it chatter of the engine. The C4 diesel's overall claimed fuel economy figure for combined city and highway driving is just 4.7litres per 100km — which puts it in the same territory as the hybrid Toyota Prius or the tiny Smart car.

As for the noise, well, at worst it can be said to resemble the sound of an old Volkswagen Beetle, and at best you even feel that it sounds like a Subaru WRX.

Either way, while road noise is at a minimum while driving the C4, you will certainly hear the diesel powerplant at work.

The car does not have the bodykit and exterior sports trim of the top of the range petrol C4 VTS but is still a pretty little thing.

Its wheels are fairly plain but the grille is distinctive. But it is inside where you will notice you are in a distinct car.

It starts with the fixed-hub steering wheel. It feels strange at first to turn the wheel while the hub stays still but once you get used to it the value of having all the steering-mounted controls remaining in a fixed position for ease of use is an obvious bonus.

But the jewel in the crown is the dashboard-top mounted display screen that provides a range of readings from the speedo to the fuel gauge and the number of kilometres left before you go searching for the diesel fuel pump at your local servo.

It is extremely clear to read and the screen back-lighting adjusts for outside conditions.

The driver's seat adjustment is manually operated and like a few other cars in this class can be fiddly to co-ordinate.

Leg room for front and rear passengers is good and, while not cramped, the driver's footwell area could be bigger. The boot, reached by opening the hatch, boasts enough space for most small-family needs.

Tested around town, including some of Sydney's hillier stretches, the C4 delivered sprightly acceleration, smooth handling and a comfortable ride.

This car won't be a huge seller but it is a strong foot in the door for the future of diesel power in Australia.

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Range and Specs

VTR 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,740 – 5,500 2006 Citroen C4 2006 VTR Pricing and Specs
VTS 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,510 – 6,600 2006 Citroen C4 2006 VTS Pricing and Specs
Exclusive 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,080 – 4,840 2006 Citroen C4 2006 Exclusive Pricing and Specs
SX 1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,750 – 4,290 2006 Citroen C4 2006 SX Pricing and Specs