Author: Kieran Bicknell - 16 June 2021
Reviewed | Citroën C4 Puretech Shine Plus
I finally managed to get my hands on the petrol-powered variant of the Citroën C4 for a weeks road test.
A surprise long-distance trek to Cornwall was on the cards; The perfect scenario for testing a family car on a typical ‘holiday’ journey. I had already driven the wonderfully comfortable Diesel C4 and the rather exciting electric e-C4 versions.
Specifically, I was driving the well-specced ‘Shine Plus’ edition with the Puretech 130 engine, coupled to the EAT8 automatic transmission – the same as the one in the Diesel version I drove during the media day.
Everything is the same as the other two models in terms of the body shell, again reinforcing the idea that the EV model in this range is ‘just another car’ rather than becoming an all-singing, all-dancing attempt to stand out and I’m a big fan of that.
That also means that this petrol-engined variant gets the same excellent – if perhaps divisive – styling, the same wonderfully ergonomic and unfussy interior layout, the same simple minimalist instrument panel which I loved… well, you get the idea.
I decided that I’d help move my friend up to their new flat in Wiltshire from their current home in Cornwall. Now, I don’t know about other journalists, but I love it when I have a ‘proper’ drive with a press car, so I jumped at the opportunity to make use of the C4.
On the drive down, I was impressed by how refined the overall experience was. Comfort is the name of the game for Citroën, and this C4 indeed ensures that box is firmly ticked.
Firstly, there are the wonderfully soft seats, with Citroën seeming like one of the only mainstream manufacturers that still make their seats’ squish’ when you sit on them. Then there are the excellent creature comforts on this range-topping model, the superb ergonomic layout, and the fantastic driving position. It’s like Citroën knew precisely what was needed in a long-distance cruiser and put it all together.
There’s also the matter of the adaptive cruise control system. Usually, I’m not too fond of ACC for being over-reactive to cars in front and for being too slow to speed up when changing lanes. However, the system fitted to the C4 was excellent in my experience, easily blowing all other ACC systems I’ve tried so far out of the water. Big points to Citroën!
There was also the luggage capacity, which was thoroughly tested by moving numerous large bags and the most oversized suitcase I’ve seen in my life, with the C4 taking it all in its stride.
Truthfully, I don’t think there could’ve been a better choice of journey and car for this situation. Not only did the C4 get an actual ‘real world’ workout, but it performed flawlessly, keeping both myself and both passengers comfortable enough to still feel refreshed at the end of the 3+ hour journey, which is no mean feat.
So, what’s not to like? Well, there are a few things, actually.
I’ve previously mentioned the gearbox used in the new C4 isn’t the best, though my time with the petrol example has only serviced to bolster this feeling. I found it far too jerky and laggy in slow-speed, creeping traffic, making for a somewhat unpleasant experience, despite the box being great when on the go.
Then there’s the steering, which appears to be disconnected and vague one minute, then will all of a sudden seem to wake up and ‘catch’ with the resulting ratio change being notable from the driver’s seat and leading to some unusual moments of over-inputting in a crossover – there’s a first time for everything I guess!
In fairness to Citroën, though, those were the only two real issues I had. There are other small worries, such as thinking the tiny ‘P’ selector for the gearbox might be too small and fiddly, while the boot space feels way more shallow than it should be, but these aren’t going to put people off buying a C4.
So, having tested all three models in the new Citroën C4 range, which would be my pick of the bunch?
I’d have to stick with my initial instincts here and pick the diesel. That wonderfully easy-going motor just sits so well against Citroën’s comfort-first ethos, though truthfully, it was a close call between the diesel and the EV, with the diesel only just pipping the e-C4 to the post due to my own lifestyle requirements.
All three of the Citroën C4 variants are excellent and largely similar – simply pick whichever propulsion system suits your lifestyle best and enjoy; You won’t be disappointed!
Citroën C4 PureTech Rating: 4.5/5