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Citroen C4 2.0i 16v VTS

Citroen

Review

LET’S not beat about the bush – the vast majority of cars that constitute the vast majority of fleets are pretty dull. They are humdrum and relatively risk-free – the perfect mix for an industry that runs successfully on predictability and security.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and being average, safe and secure is a damn sight better than being awful. But on the greyest of days, when a company car park is filled with the bland but worthy, it’s nice to see it brightened up every now and again with a Citroen C4.

This car is for drivers who would rather have a less run-of-the-mill lower medium car. It’s alive with innovation. While most of the competition is fairly conservative in its approach, the C4 rails against this, as any good Citroen should.

And in particular, of the two versions, the coupe’s long, low roofline stands out in a sector where higher MPV-like silhouettes are more common.

It looks absolutely fantastic. Our test car came in a very odd colour called Scott Yellow metallic, which is just about the same tone as a Post-it note.

Most cars would look appalling in this shade, but the unconventional, modernist angles of the C4 seem to suit it perfectly.

This French radicalism has its drawbacks though. Visibility out of the back window is very poor, and the area the rear windscreen wiper sweeps is comically small. If there’s mud about on the roads, the back screen gets covered and you’ve got an upside-down U about a foot across to look out of.

Rear headroom isn’t great, and the tapering rear impinges on boot space. But they are small concessions, outweighed by the advantage of driving something genuinely original.

As a performance hatch, the C4 2.0-litre VTS coupe has a few faults. There’s really not much grip from the front tyres, and in any road conditions other than absolutely dry, the nose of the VTS washes wide without needing much encouragement.

Also the brakes, while very powerful, are extremely snatchy, and even the most tentative prod ends up standing the car on its nose.

But the steering is direct and the 2.0-litre engine, which also propels the Peugeot 206 GTi 180 about, gives the C4 some decent, straight-line performance. But for all its sporty intentions, with its barking exhaust, spoiler and hugging seats, the C4 VTS is not really a very sporty car, in the Honda Civic Type R, Megane RenaultSport 225 sense of the word.

The steering wheel, with its fixed centre, takes some getting used to, and the two spokes are positioned so that its very hard to find a position that’s comfortable for your hands on the wheel over a long time, but I like it for the fact that it’s different.

The steering wheel is typical of the odd mix and mass of contradictions of the C4, because it’s strangely easy to pick fault with in many ways, but perhaps it is a case of highlighting oddity rather than criticising. And oddity done well is refreshing and fun.

At £17,195 on-the-road, you get automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control, five CD player, rear spoiler, 17 inch alloy wheels, climate control and plenty of safety equipment. The standard mesh/Alcantara seat coverings are also pretty funky as well.

Residual values are average for the sector at 31%/£5,225 for three years/60,000 miles, but it is expensive at the front end.

A marginally less powerful 165bhp Megane 2.0 T 16v Dynamique is more than £2,000 cheaper and would still be significantly less money even adjusted for specification. Don’t forget though – Citroens for book price are rare.

And what price can you put on driving a car that makes the Megane look rather staid by comparison?

The C4 coupe takes some getting used to, but it is worth investing the time to get to know it, for soon those quirks become endearing eccentricities.

Citroen C4 VTS fact file
Engine (cc): 1,997
Max power (bhp/rpm): 180/7,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 149/4,750
Max speed (mph): 141
0-62mph (sec): 8.3
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 33.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 200
Transmission: 5-sp manual
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 60/13.1
Service interval (miles): 20,000
On sale: Now
Prices (OTR): £17,195

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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