Citroen C4: Farewell French hatch

  • Five months with the Citroen C4 come to an end
  • Comfort and strong diesel engine are the highlights
  • Frustrating controls and dull drive let it down

As we bid goodbye to the Citroen C4, I have mixed feelings about the French firm’s Ford Focus rival.

When it first arrived, it definitely had a tough job to try and convince us that it was a worthy choice in the competitive family hatchback market. The fact that we had tested the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf before it would make that task even harder.

Over the next last couple of months, however, it has shown enough to warrant being an alternative choice to the three big hitters.

One of the highlights of the car has been the engine. The 2.0-litre diesel, producing 147bhp, is an excellent bit of kit. This power, along with the 340Nm of torque, means the C4 comes with plenty of low-down pull as well as good in-gear acceleration.

This all helped make my 150 mile round commute more pleasant and rarely did I have to drop down gears to overtake slower traffic. Even the six-speed gearbox was pretty good, which was once a rare thing in a French car.

The ride was also commendable, and another part of the car that helped make my commute trouble free. With a soft suspension set-up, the car dealt with potholes well and, even after longer journeys, I don’t remember ever having a sore back at all.

There was a downside to this set-up though. On smooth, flat roads there still seemed to be movement and if you went along a road with a few dips in it, it was much more pronounced and the car tended to wallow a little.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only issue to let down the Citroen.

Using different climate control and audio controls can often be confusing. It will normally take a couple of days before you get the hang of everything, but after that you’ll be set. Annoyingly this didn’t seem to be the case in the C4.It must have been weeks, if not months, by the time I had stopped changing the radio station rather than turning the volume up.

As for the climate control, in order to get the front windscreen air-con on a low setting seemed to require some kind of military briefing, and a complete knowledge of the car’s owner’s manual. In fact I’m fairly sure I still didn’t have the hang of it by the time it went back.

Where the car suffered the most, particularly compared to the likes of the Focus and Golf, was in the handling department. While it ‘did the job’ as it were, there wasn’t enough involvement and interest. It was a close thing between that and the Astra, but the Vauxhall possibly still had the upper hand.

That doesn’t mean I would take the Astra over the C4, and I actually think the Citroen is a better all-round package. Unfortunately it’s still some way off the VW and Ford offerings which continue to lead the way at this end of the market.

So as the Citroen leaves, my overall feeling of the car was indifference. The good points were countered by the negatives, but the cons were rescued by the positives. It was an absolute middle of the road, floating in the obscurity of average, kind of car.

Next up is another French car. This time I’ll be trying out Peugeot’s latest estate for six months, the 508 SW. You can see how I get on with it, here.

Current mileage: 16,532

Average mpg: 44.0