We usually associate exclusivity with high-end brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini, but there are few brands more exclusive than Citroen in Australia.
It sells three cars Down Under, with combined sales of just 112 to the end of October.
You’re more likely to see a new Bentley (194 sales), Lamborghini (117 sales), or Maserati (455 sales) on the road, although Aston Martin (110 sales) does have Citroen covered.
Sure, the Citroen double chevron doesn’t have the same weight as the Bentley wings or Maserati trident, but the brand does stand for something; for a focus on comfort, and for unique designs that you’ll either love or hate.
The new Citroen C4 emphatically ticks both those boxes. Its sloping-roof design is meant to emulate the first C4, the preferred chariot of rally legend Sebastien Loeb, while the raised ride and black cladding will please people who want an SUV. You’re not going to get it confused for anything else on the road.
Under the skin, it rides on a Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension designed to mimic the magic carpet feeling of a DS on its hydropneumatic setup, and the seats are inspired by comfortable couches instead of racing buckets.
There’s no doubt it’s interesting… but is it any good?
Pricing for the C4 is simple. There’s one model, the 2022 Citroen C4 Shine, and it costs $37,990 before on-road costs.
If you’re a Francophile, the Renault Arkana Intens ($37,490) will also have caught your eye at the same price.
With one model and just one option, the list of standard inclusions is impressive.
The C4 Shine features:
- 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- DAB digital radio
- Six-speaker sound system
- 5.5-inch digital instrument cluster
- Head-up display
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Siena leather upholstery
- Heated front seats
- Four-way power driver’s seat with massaging
- LED headlights, daytime running lights and fog lights
- Static cornering lights
- Automatic headlights
- Automatic high-beam
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Rear privacy glass
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Heated, power-folding exterior mirrors
- Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
- Electric parking brake
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear centre console air vents
- Keyless entry and start
- Paddle shifters
Our tester was also fitted with the $1490 panoramic sunroof.
Polar White is standard, with the following colours a $690 option:
- Iceland Blue
- Pulse Orange
- Elixir Red
- Steel Grey
- Platinum Grey
- Obsidian Black
The new Citroen C4 missed out on getting a five-star score from safety authority ANCAP, instead earning a four-star rating.
It received an adult occupant protection rating of 76 per cent, a child occupant protection rating of 81 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection rating of 57 per cent, and a safety assist rating of 62 per cent.
The thresholds for a five-star rating in each category are 80, 80, 60 and 70 per cent, respectively.
The standard autonomous emergency braking system detects both pedestrians and cyclists, day and night, and works at speeds of 30-80km/h.
Other standard safety equipment includes:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane-keep assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Driver attention alert
- Traffic sign recognition
- Reversing camera
- Front, rear and side parking sensors
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
You don’t hop into a C4, you sink into it. The seats are brilliant; pillowy soft when you drop into them, but supportive enough to save you from any aches or pains on longer drives.
Citroen says they combine high-density materials with 15mm thick foam. Whatever is going on, it works. There’s more than enough adjustment for taller drivers to get comfortable, while the seats can be jacked up to give smaller pilots a commanding view of the road ahead.
The driver is faced with a simple instrument cluster, which shows your speed and a basic trip computer. There’s also a head-up display, but it isn’t projected onto the windscreen. Instead, it’s a fold-up glass panel which looks a bit cheap.
Atop the dashboard is a 10-inch touchscreen running the same software as the system in the Peugeot 3008. It’s a decent setup, with good-looking graphics and reasonably quick responses, but it’s still held back by some infuriating quirks.
Citroen has fitted the C4 with proper dials for climate control, for example, but around a third of the display is always taken up by a set of touch controls for the driver and passenger temperature. Why not just give us full-screen maps or CarPlay?
As is the case with everything Peugeot and Citroen, the surround-view camera can only show you a top-down view of what’s alongside and in front of the car after you’ve driven over it, and its resolution is middling at best. These are all things you’d put up with at the bottom end of the small SUV price range, but that isn’t where the C4 Shine plays.
Storage spaces are everywhere. There’s a deep space at the bottom of the dashboard, with a hard flip up lid revealing a hidden slot for garage keys or coins, and there’s even a tablet holder in front of the passenger. The airbag fires from the top of the dashboard to avoid shooting $1000 worth of computer hardware into the passenger’s face in an accident, a setup pioneered by the C4 Cactus.
Material quality is average up front. The rubberised climate dials have a nice action, and most of what you poke or prod feels solid, but it’s all hard and plasticky, while there are some rough edges around the sunroof. Again, at this price it really ought to be nicer.
Rear seat space isn’t what you’d call a C4 strength. Though it’s 107mm longer and 19mm wider than a Peugeot 308, it doesn’t use that car’s EMP2 platform. Instead, it’s based on the smaller Peugeot 208 and 2008’s EMP1 platform.
Headroom is hit hard by the sloping roofline, forcing taller passenger to crane their necks. It’s fine for kids or short adults, but that’s about it. Legroom is acceptable behind a normal-height driver, but it’s not exactly standout.
The addition of rear air vents is a positive, as is the pair of USB charge plugs. There are two ISOFIX and three top-tether points for child seats, and the bench folds 60/40.
Boot space is 380L measured up to the parcel shelf. This expands to 1250L with the rear seats folded. There’s a 16-inch space-saver spare under the boot floor. There’s a decent loading lip, but the space itself is flat and broad.
The 2022 Citroen C4 is powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine producing 114kW of power and 240Nm of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Citroen claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.5 seconds.
The C4 uses a 6.1L/100km on the combined cycle, and has a 50L fuel tank.
There’s no mistaking the C4 for anything but a Citroen, for better and worse.
The good? It rides better than essentially anything else in its class, with a lovely long-travel feeling that encourages you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Speed bumps float beneath the 17-inch wheels like they aren’t there, and highway dips don’t upset the ambience. It also does a good job filtering out the little lumps and bumps common in the city, although the C4 occasionally slaps hard into potholes and loses its composure.
Combined with the light steering and torquey engine, the languid ride makes the C4 feel right at home in the city.
It’s a shame over-the-shoulder visibility has been sacrificed at the altar of style, although the blind-spot monitor helps to make sure you don’t collect a cyclist on a lane change.
Put your foot down and the three-cylinder engine has a slightly offbeat growl that lets you know it’s working hard, but vibrations are well suppressed, and the growl never gets too loud.
It’s mated with an eight-speed transmission that shifts smoothly on the move, but can be a bit jerky at low speeds. It’s sourced from Aisin, the same supplier favoured by BMW for its front-drive cars, but doesn’t have the same polish you’ll find in the Germans.
First in particular feels longer than it needs to be, and the car’s electronic brain occasionally hangs onto gears longer than it really needs to.
It’s better than the unit in the older C4 Cactus, and the start/stop is noticeably smoother here, but it’s still not quite where it should be for more than $40,000 drive-away.
At highway speeds the C4 is reasonably quiet, and the plush ride makes it a more natural cruiser than the average city SUV or hatchback. Wind noise is relatively well suppressed, and there’s not much roar from the tyres.
The engine is happy enough at a cruise, thrumming away in the background, but it needs to work hard if you’re to overtake. The transmission need to drop one, two, three gears, although once it does you get a decent move-on.
It’s worth noting Citroen’s adaptive cruise control is good at keeping a gap to the car in front, but it’s a bit jerky at lower speeds. The computer driver needs a slightly lighter touch on the brake.
The 2022 Citroen C4 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
It requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.
The first five services are capped at $429, $585, $429, $598 and $443, or a total of $2485 over five years.
You already know if you want a C4.
It’s in keeping what we’ve come to expect from Citroen, with a totally unique character and look. It’s a lovely place to spend time, with some of the best seats in the business, and the relaxed ride is unmatched by anything at this price.
Citroen has also listened to some of the feedback levelled at its previous cars on the technology front. It’s not perfect, but the infotainment in the new C4 represent a meaningful step forward from the frustrating system in the C3.
There’s no getting away from the fact $38,000 buys you a lot of car from Mazda, Kia, or even Renault though, and the sloping roofline means the C4 isn’t a car for families or couples who like loading in bikes and bookcases.
It’s still a car you need to buy with your heart, but it’ll make your head happier than the French oddballs that went before it.
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MORE: Everything Citroen C4