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Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi micro-hybrid VTR+ with EGS

Click to view picture gallery“Citroen knows exactly what real
  customers really want in a car
  and the new family-sized C4 5-door
  hatchback delivers a customer-
  focused driving solution

TODAY, ALL REAL-LIFE CUSTOMERS want to pay less in the way of running costs and taxes. They want more versatile vehicles able to carry passengers as well as loads; they want more specification and generally a higher level of build quality; and they want smart looking cars on their driveways.

Citroen's aim with the new C4 — more of an evolution of the outgoing version — is to meet those demands, and generally speaking they have done that. Of course the price is going to be higher because of the increase in VAT in 2011 so prices begin at £15,595 and range up to £21,495.

There are three petrol engines built in conjunction with BMW/MINI (1.4 and 1.6-litre units with power outputs of 95, 120 and 155bhp) and four HDi PSA Peugeot-Citroen turbodiesels (90, 110, 150bhp), and an e-HDi micro-hybrid 110bhp version.

The high quality of
new C4’s interior finish
is immediately
apparent and makes
for a satisfying
on-board experience
Depending on the engine chosen, transmission options are five- and six-speed manual and conventional automatic or six-speed EGS automated clutchless manual gearboxes.

There are three trim and equipment levels, again depending on the choice of engine: VTR, VTR+ (the likely best-seller) and Exclusive.

The new C4 has balanced proportions giving a clear impression of roominess, on-road presence and conservative good looks. The flowing lines, purposeful front end and a rear spoiler suggest optimised aerodynamics. Chrome detailing combines with distinctive headlight styling, a longer wheelbase and sculpted alloy wheels for a sophisticated kerbside appeal.

Fractionally larger than its forerunner, new C4's external dimensions are a length of 4,329mm, width of 1,780mm and height of 1,494mm. The wheelbase of 2,608mm provides generous accommodation for all five occupants and a class-leading boot volume of up to 408 litres (1,183 litres with the rear seats folded down).

The high quality of new C4's interior finish is immediately apparent from the tactile soft-touch material on the top of the one-piece, moulded soft-feel dashboard and the generous amounts of chrome around the dials and vents. It gives a satisfying on-board experience as well as long-term durability.

The new C4's driver-focused cockpit delivers a feeling of on-road comfort and refinement. The layout of the controls initially looks a touch 'busy', but they are soon worked out.

Key aspects of the cabin can be tailored to individual requirements with, for instance, users able to set the intensity of the automatic air-conditioning to one of three different settings; adjust the colour of the instrument display and select their own 'polyphonic' sound alerts. For more levels of comfort, new C4 can be specified with massage front seats the first time this has been offered in this sector of the market.

Optional equipment
includes front and rear
parking sensors,
parking space ‘gap

Xenon dual-function
directional headlamps
and a tyre pressure
monitoring system
New C4 also offers a range of convenient technologies, a number of which are unique to the segment. There is a new blind-spot monitoring system, a cornering light function, cruise control and speed-limiter with favourite speed settings plus CitroŽn's innovative eTouch Emergency & Assistance System.

Selected models feature a new raised centre console another first for the class which houses a cooled and illuminated storage area that can take four half-litre bottles.

Other available equipment includes a Connecting Box that provides Bluetooth and a USB socket, front and rear parking sensors, parking space 'gap' measurement, Xenon dual-function directional headlamps and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

With CO2 emissions from 109g/km, the new C4 is one of the most ecologically-conscious models in the segment and all diesel models qualify for free VED road tax in the first year. A Gear Efficiency Indicator standard specification on all manual models signals the optimum moment to change gear and encourages economical driving.

Most significant news from the media presentation was the introduction of CitroŽn's innovative micro-hybrid e-HDi drivetrain with the HDi 110 turbodiesel engine and EGS automated clutchless transmission which delivers CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km.

A combination of several environmentally-considerate technologies including a second generation Stop & Start system with regenerative braking e-HDi helps to improve fuel efficiency by up to 15% in city driving conditions, with CO2 emissions reduced by around 5g/km. And, as already mentioned, the low CO2 figure means no road tax in the first year of registration and then just £30 a year thereafter. For company car drivers, the tax burden is only 13%.

Officially, the e-HDi model will return 64.2mpg in the Combined Cycle and on the hilly Cotswold roads my test car obliged with a very impressive 57.5mpg. More good news: the Stop & Start system worked really well — taking your foot off the brake causes the engine to immediately fire back into life without hesitation.

For the high mileage user this should be their model of choice. It is nice and easy to live with, day-in and day-out. With the most popular VTR+ specification this version costs £19,695 — just £800 more than the volume-selling non-micro-hybrid 1.6-litre 110 HDi version.

Officially this model
will return 64.2mpg
in the Combined Cycle
and on the
hilly Cotswold roads
my test car obliged
with a very impressive
For retail buyers who cover less distances, the most popular model will be the 1.6 VTi 120bhp petrol version with VTR+ specification costing £17,595. Its fuel economy is officially 45.8mpg but in real-life on the same Cotswold test route (same load, same speeds) the figure was 37.6mpg.

Relatively good, but 20mpg less than the micro-hybrid turbodiesel and not a lot quicker in outright performance.

However this petrol version does cost £2,100 less to buy but the road tax is more costly (at £125) and benefit-in-kind company car tax is 4% more. Get the calculator out to see which the best buy between the two is: eco-minded retail buyers or high-mileage business users will go the diesel route; lower mileage retail customers will stick with the petrol models.

With the new C4, Citroen promised to deliver features and functions that customers really want. And, yes it is very comfortable, yes it is very roomy, yes it is well built, and yes it is well equipped. Plus the handling is improved (although it's not dynamic, which isn't that important). The suspension performs best with the 16-inch alloy wheels fitted to VTR+ versions over the 17-inch items standard on Exclusive variants.

Against? The EGS clutchless transmission is an acquired taste and not as smooth or as slick as conventional full auto systems, 17-inch wheels do not cope well with UK road surfaces, and supple ride control is suited to comfort rather than precise agility.

That noted, you do get a high specification, improved build quality and five-star safety rating. The new C4's also very roomy, very comfortable, eco friendly with low running costs and it does deliver on most of Citroen's aims and promises. More importantly, it meets the demands of real customers in today's market. David Miles

Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi micro-hybrid VTR+ with EGS
| £19,695
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 11.2 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 57.5mpg
Power: 110bhp | Torque: 199lb ft | CO2 109g/km