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Citroen C4 Coupe 2.0 HDi 16v VTS



DESPITE its soft primrose yellow paint, the Citroën C4 still reminds me of the hi-tech robot that regularly skates across our TV screens. I think it’s a great-looking car.

It’s taken the place of the fiery Vectra VXR on my drive and at first the change from 252bhp to 136bhp took some getting used to. I’d fought to hold the Vectra back and the C4 seemed reluctant in comparison.

But after two weeks, the outrageous power and prodigious thirst of the big Vauxhall estate are a distant memory and I’m settling in to the Citroën very well. I can’t tell you much about economy apart from I haven’t had to put any diesel in it yet and when my wife drove it at the weekend the ‘distance-to-empty’ readout actually went up.

I drive it harder than she does, after discovering that a bit of welly makes the car come alive. I’d criticised the steering for having a slightly ‘dead’ feel until I was late for an appointment last week and needed to drive it in a style for which it has clearly been designed.

The faster I went, the more the car seemed to enjoy it and rewarded the heavier foot and harder turning. It is the sporty VTS model, after all, and I got to my meeting on time.

It’s also nice to know that my wife’s less hurried style can eke out the fuel.

That TV robot, whose head I climb into every morning, represents the C4’s technology, with which it bristles. I love the centre-mounted binnacle with its bright digital read-outs, the steering column-mounted LCD rev counter and the centrally-located navigation and entertainment panel. The interior is really smart and very comfortable.

With the seat and steering wheel correctly adjusted, I still find the gearchange a bit of a stretch and I’m afraid the feel of the gearbox is pretty rotten. Downchanges are particularly vague.

Continuing with the criticism for a few moments, the rear spoiler lives up to its name and spoils the view in the mirror. It’s just wide enough to completely obscure cars travelling a safe distance behind me.

The family hasn’t had much experience of two-door cars and the doors on the C4 seem particularly long.

They are presumably laden with their own technology – central locking, electric windows, mirrors that fold when you lock up – and eight-year-old Katy, who’s always been on the dainty side, struggles to get the passenger door open.

Once she gets it moving, she finds it hard to stop and so to spare the bodywork of cars parked next to us she now has to climb out of daddy’s side.

Fact file:

Price: £17,995 (£20,220 as tested)
Mileage: 13,507
CO2 emissions (g/km): 142
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% tax-payer: £59 per month
Insurance group: 10
Combined mpg: 52.3
Test mpg: 44.0
CAP Monitor RV: £5,425/30%
Contract hire rate: £404
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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