[This article was first published on carbuyer.com.sg]
Citroen’s not-a-hatchback crossover C4 has lots of style and features but most importantly, Cat A affordability in Singapore
The last Citroen C4 I really remember driving was the first-generation C4 three-door coupe ‘by Loeb’ edition. The new third-gen C4 is so unlike that car – it was a ‘warm’ hatch with a manual gearbox – to a rather shocking degree, but the result is that it’s a much better fit for Singapore 2022 especially in price terms.
There only vestige of the old C4 hatchback is the C4 name*, and a sort-of-homage to the C4 coupe’s funky horizontal split-window tailgate.
*This is just the C4, not the C4 Cactus, C4 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso or Grand C4 Spacetourer as it’s now known.
As we found out late last year, the new C4 has morphed into a crossover with coupe-styling – on paper this is a great move: Inject a dose of excitement in the car to keep it current with SUV dominance, and simultaneously escape the unshakable dominance of the VW Golf in the small hatch segment.
Soft evidence of this working in real life? The C4 now draws looks where its predecessors hardly merited a glance from Singaporeans.
Unique front light arrangement and interesting face? Check.
Coupe-ish sloping roofline? Check.
Blacked out pillars? Check.
Weird design thingy behind the front wheel that has no apparent purpose but looks cool? Check.
Arguably the most interesting thing about the car is the rear view – the window isn’t actually split, like the first C4 coupe, but it looks it with the spoiler there.
Whatever your opinion on the new one, it sure doesn’t look boring or forgettable, which is exactly what it needs after the very generic look of the second-gen car.
The interior reiterates the coupe-ness, since it feels closer and more intimate than a hatch would. Citroen’s playbook here has evolved, but not changed much: Plenty of dark plastics which look presentable, though scratchy in places, and a fairly logical layout without wildly frustrating design choices.
There’s a 5.0-inch driver’s instrument panel, which is fairly small though easy to read. Left of that is a 10.0-inch touchscreen. It’s not particularly bright, sharp, nor fast, but Android Auto / Apple CarPlay save the day here.
We always say you have to pay a practicality price for style, and the crossoverisation of the C4 proves that again. Despite the styling tricks, the car is still a small segment vehicle, and does not magically gain interior space. Also, overall driving visibility would have been better as a conventional hatch rather than SUV-coupe.
In fact, the eye-catching styling impinges on room – the rear doesn’t feel particularly spacious, and headroom isn’t very good, so keep that in mind if you have a lot of netball-playing friends.
Boot space is 380-litres, which is exactly the same as the Golf, and you’d probably have to fold the seats to fit a bicycle because of the car’s sexy roofline. Sounds familiar? Toyota’s C-HR and the new Honda HR-V both have less boot space than boxier SUVs would.
Not a true split-tailgate section, but close to it – and it’s very fashionable in that coupe-SUV way
The crossover approach doesn’t do any wonders for the C4’s driving experience, which is what we expected. The 1.2-litre engine is a little gruff, and the gearbox betrays the occasional lurch – very French – but the drivetrain is torquey and, when treated gently, quite efficient, and capable of small car figures (around 6.0L/100km) 70/30 highway/urban mix.
Citroen says there are special ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ which improve ride quality, and we had no complaints about the C4’s ride behaviour as a small crossover in Singapore. What is lost in the process is a little of the pleasing, direct handling and body control of the hatchback predecessors – though admittedly this is probably not a priority for most Singaporean buyers.
What is top of that list is bang for buck, and the C4 has that thanks to a VES bonus, and Cat A COE eligibility. As a result, the top-spec Style variant comes in at below S$125k with COE.
It also has a lot of equipment – keyless, device charger, sunroof, head-up display, LED lights, the tech bits mentioned above, and active safety with adaptive cruise, blind spot monitors, autonomous emergency brake, and road sign recognition.
But opt for the lesser ‘Feel’ variant and the price dips to an attractive S$115k with COE, though you lose some of the active safety (adaptive cruise, blind spot monitors, road sign recognition), the wireless charger, and the sunroof in the process, which we think is a fair trade.
The contemporaneous styling is a big draw for the new C4, but the fact that it has lots of equipment, and a decent amount of practicality and can be quite efficient are what should stand out for buyers now.
Just don’t expect it to behave like a ‘real’ SUV, but a high-riding hatch instead, and enjoy the lines.
Book a test drive with the new Citroën C4 now!
[Source article: carbuyer.com.sg/2022-citroen-c4-review-singapore]