What is it?
UK car buyers are notoriously snobby when it comes to choosing the spec of their cars, snubbing the low-level trim levels in favour of the fully-laden ones. It’s why many manufacturers just don’t offer the basic grades that other markets get. Even Dacia – a brand renowned for its low prices – has ditched its cheapest options for Britain.
That brings us to Citroen C4 – the French firm’s latest funky hatchback-come-crossover. Introduced in early 2021, the brand has now decided to go the opposite way and launch a new entry-level Sense trim level. But is it one that’s worth considering?
This new C4 is essentially a replacement for the Citroen C4 Cactus – a funky, low-price model that was well-suited to families. This latest C4 is even available as an EV for the first time, but here our focus is the regular petrol and diesel options.
Bringing a stylish design and a focus on comfort – two things Citroens tend to be very good at – the high-spec models we’ve already tried have proven a welcome addition to this often-congested segment.
What’s under the bonnet?
At the same time as introducing this new Sense trim, Citroen launched two new engine options – the first is a 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel, though it has since been rolled out to other versions.
The second option – a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol producing 99bhp – is only available on this version, meaning it really is as ‘entry-level’ as it comes. Mated exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox, it can take the C4 from 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 114mph.
Though the diesel will be best for those looking for the lowest running costs (Citroen claims up to a remarkable 70mpg), this petrol is still rather good on fuel. We averaged around 50mpg with our time with it, while CO2 emissions of 122-136g/km are respectable too.
What’s it like to drive?
In this area, it excels, with a particularly comfortable ride that effortlessly soaks up bumps in the road. Whether you’re around town or on a motorway, it’s a very relaxing way to travel. This entry-level engine is also easily powerful enough for most situations and has no trouble getting up to speed when merging, while well-spaced gears mean it’s quite happy to sit at motorway speeds with minimal fuss.
Not that there’s ever a nice time to suffer from back pain, but it has been quite well-timed this week with having a C4. What a fabulously comfortable thing. Bravo Citroen pic.twitter.com/7HfqBzZM2Y
— Ted Welford (@TedWelford) November 5, 2021
The only slight gripe with the C4’s drive is that the split rear window impacts visibility out of the back – much like any car with a design feature like this, admittedly.
How does it look?
This might be the lowest C4 in the range, but even this comes with large 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, which certainly gives it plenty of street cred on the road. The overall design is funky too, and blends a standard hatchback design with SUV styling features, such as its plastic-clad wheel arches, while it does sit higher up than a typical hatch like a Kia Ceed.
With its fancy LED lights (both fitted as standard) and almost coupe-esque styling, the C4 certainly stands out on the road for the right reasons.
What’s it like inside?
Citroen has aimed to declutter the cabin on the C4, but unlike some rivals, has still retained physical buttons for elements like the climate control, which really helps to increase usability. This Sense model also still comes with a large 10-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, though annoyingly we couldn’t get the Apple CarPlay to behave itself on our test car. There’s a small digital instrument cluster, too, which helps to modernise the interior.
Despite that sloping roofline, there’s still plenty of room in the rear seats for adults too, and though the 380-litre boot isn’t especially big, it should offer plenty of room for most.
What’s the spec like?
This version might sit at the bottom of the C4 line-up, but the list of standard equipment you get is especially generous. Highlights include cruise control, that aforementioned 10-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and rear parking sensors.
Granted, there are no luxuries like heated seats, a head-up display and adaptive cruise control – which you get higher up the range – but you’ve got to ask whether you really need them.
The C4’s starting price of £21,310 also makes it very good value for money, undercutting rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra by one and two thousand pounds respectively.
‘Less is more’ is often a policy adopted in the sports car world, but we reckon it applies to the Citroen C4 too. When standard equipment is already this generous, when the price is affordable and the entry-level engine is more than up to the task, there really is little reason you should upgrade.
Though there might be sportier rivals, and some that offer big boots, this C4 is an easy-going choice that will happily slot into day-to-day life.
Model as tested: Citroen C4 Sense PureTech 100
Price as tested: £21,310
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol
Max speed: 114mph
0-60mph: 11.1 seconds