The C4 comes in two guises – lairy three-door Coupe or family-orientated five-door hatchback. Ours is the far better-looking Coupe. The sharply-angled boot lid conjures up memories of the Honda CRX and gives the car a sleek, compact look when viewed from the side.
Our test car is the 2.0 HDi diesel VTS in metallic Scott Yellow (£350). It’s an interesting hue which has divided opinion in the Fleet News office. Acting editor Steve Moody thinks its unusual tone matches the unconventional looks of the car. I think the striking looks deserve something more intense than metallic mustard, but I can’t deny that it’s a bit different.
The VTS is at the top of the C4 range. Two derivatives are available, with either a 180bhp petrol model or our diesel version with 138bhp. But despite the power shortfall, the diesel model doesn’t lose out in performance. The 2.0-litre 16v HDi unit pushes out 236lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm, which makes for plenty of grunt low down in the power band and nippy, if not quite scintillating, performance.
The interior is awash with typically Gallic flair. The unique fixed-hub steering wheel makes no difference to steering once the novelty has worn off and increases safety thanks to the fixed airbag.
The hub’s buttons and dials are easy to reach, but there are an awful lot of them. In fact, there are an awful lot of buttons all over the place. On receipt of the car I spent two hours on my driveway with my nose in the manual, pausing every now and then to poke tentatively at one control or other. This is not a car you can just get into and go.
Our upholstery is a mix of black leather, Alcantara and a strange rubber webbing that Citroen calls ‘3D X Ray’. Whatever, it looks cool and is very comfortable.
The dash is a complicated but stylish affair, with a digital rev counter on top of the wheel hub. The optional NaviDrive system (£1,300) is housed in a fetching brushed aluminium surround while the speedometer and assorted everyday gauges live in a translucent display in a central binnacle on top.
The radio and hands-free phone controls are below that in a console once again jam-packed with buttons.
Our car has the optional lane departure warning syste. A camera in the windscreen ‘sees’ the white lines on the road and, should you wander across without indicating at speeds of 50mph or above, servos in the seat vibrate your behind to alert you. It’s a vital safety package and I just hope I never have need to use it for real, instead of provoking the system out of curiosity.
There have been a couple of problems since the car arrived. The VTS has a five-CD changer in the armrest. But select favourite track, start to drive, place arm on armrest, and the CD restarts itself. The bottom of the lid hits the changer’s buttons with the slightest pressure.
Then there’s the Navi- Drive’s complete crash coming off the M25 at Potter’s Bar. Everything from sat-nav to radio froze, only coming unstuck after I pulled over and restarted the car.
We’re hoping that these are isolated incidents which won’t spoil our time with Citroen’s stylish new offering.
Equipment and options
Total options: £2,125
Standard price (OTR): £18,095
Price as tested: £20,220
Model: Citroen C4 Coupe 2.0 HDi 16V VTS
Price (OTR): £18,095 (£20,220 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 142
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £49 a month
Insurance group: 10E
Combined mpg: 52.3
Test mpg: 37.7
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,100/28%
HSBC contract hire rate: £368
Expenditure to date: Nil Figures based on three years/60,000 miles
What we expect
THE C4 is a breath of fresh air in the lower-medium sector thanks to its striking looks, especially in Coupe guise with a rear-end design which makes it look much different to the more sober five-door car. The innovation continues inside, with features such as the fixed-hub steering wheel and the lane departure warning system. And although it looks much different to anything else, it should prove easy on the wallet thanks to the proven 2.0 HDi diesel engine.
The manunfacturer’s view
‘THE new C4 is perfectly placed to appeal to fleet operators and drivers. For drivers, the C4 delivers high levels of comfort, equipment and safety, all in an innovative package that offers real driving satisfaction. The C4 also provides solid economic advantages in terms of very low wholelife costs, including insurance group ratings as low as 4E and 60+ mpg combined figures.’
John Hargreaves, national fleet sales manager, Citroen UK