Our featured car today is, to give it the full title, a Citroen C4 Flair BlueHDi hatchback and it is painted Bourrasque Blue. Bourrasque means, apparently, a gust or squall, and in this context I guess is meant to suggest a storm-laden sky. Whatever, it is a strong and effective colour not really done justice by my photographs. It is very reflective which is why I had to re-shoot the exterior snaps to exclude the ‘hall of mirrors’ type reflections of yours truly.
This is a vehicle that I believe is somewhat overlooked because of its siblings the Cactus and the upmarket DS4 – DS now being a separate brand in its own right but remaining pretty much the same car under the covers. What I feel Citroen have done is to divide the target clientele for this model. In general younger buyers will go for the funky Cactus and those with extra cash on the hip will plump for the posh DS4. I see the regular C4 as fitting right in the middle.
Hopefully it will stand out individually because in many ways it is a very good car. It is smart and quite shapely but doesn’t really stand out in the family hatchback sector like its siblings. Although there have been some styling updates and a three model trim range – Touch, Feel and Flair – it doesn’t really get the blood flowing, but then not every car buyer is looking for adventure.
Under The Bonnet
Citroen now offer some efficient new engines including two 1.2L three-cylinder petrols, a couple of 1.6L diesels and the engine in our test car, a powerful 148bhp 2.0L diesel ‘BlueHDi’ Euro-6 compliant motor. This is the engine that, for me, lifts the C4 out of the doldrums. It matches fuel efficiency with a generous chunk of power. Citroen reckon that over 70mpg is possible (with Stop/Start) and this may be possible if you drive like a parsimonious Scrooge. Here in the real world though – and with me driving – over 50mpg was achieved with ease. That really is good as is the splendidly tax-busting CO² level of 98g/km.
On The Road
The Citroen C4 is responsive and pulls strongly (273lb.ft torque) through to around 4000 revs at which point a shift up will ensure brisk and nimble progress. As mentioned It isn’t a car that is going to set your pulses racing but it is flexible, being easy to drive around town yet more than capable at a motorway cruise, enhanced by a smooth-shifting six speed manual ‘box. The ride is a tad soft and pliant for my taste but most drivers will find it very comfortable with very little intrusive wind noise at legal speeds.
The other downside for me personally – and I suspect this won’t be the last time you will read me griping about this – is the steering. It really is way too light. A babe in arms could hurl with the wheel about with ease. The steering is accurate and goes where you put it but there is none of that elusive ‘feel’, although I suspect that most buyers won’t be too exercised by that. It’s my contention that a regular family car like this ought to have that mysterious something extra for a keen driver to get hold of.
There’s room enough in front although I suspect that very tall drivers will have an issue with finding the right driving position despite the adjustable steering column and seat adjustment. The seat fabric seems robust although I personally didn’t like it and would likely choose the leather option. Otherwise our Citroen C4 came pretty much fully loaded. I love the panoramic sunroof although it does impinge upon headroom in the back seats. Still a must-have though.
Again, tall passengers will find the back seat comfortable enough but a bit cramped. Certainly not a car for five adults. Children will be perfectly content though. The lack of legroom in the back is at least compensated by a really good boot of 408L capacity – that’s more than a Focus or Golf. It is well shaped, with hooks and straps plus a 12v socket. Ample space for a vacation.
Our car came with a host of extras, itemised below on the specification sheets. It’s all there including climate, cruise, Bluetooth, navigation and the like. It even came with a very un-pc ‘smokers pack’ which for thirty quid appeared to consist of an old-school lighter in the 12v and a plastic pot ashtray that took up one cupholder. Put the money towards the cost of the optional spare wheel instead.
As I hinted at up the page, this is a car that could be overlooked as one’s eye will be turned by the brighter alternatives, yet the Citroen C4 has a lot to recommend it and I expect dealers like the Howards Group will have some good offers. I can see this motor being purchased by someone who wants a good, economical, no-nonsense car in which to shift the family about. In Flair trim and with a few options (making the price a very reasonable £22,360) it has all you could reasonably want for your money and lesser specified versions start from around £14k. Well worth short-listing when the time comes.