Review: Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010)

Rating:

Brave styling, decent quality interior and excellent crash test ratings. 1.6 HDi EGS qualifies for £30pa tax. Good compromise between ride and handling

Narrow front footwell awkward for people with big feet. Other drivers you pass can read the speedo.

Recently Added To This Review

17 February 2019

Report of total electrical failure of 2006 Citroen C4 at 83,000 miles. Probable cause the ECU or the wiring loom. Read more

6 September 2018

Report of 2007 Citroen C4 SX petrol automatic ticking over 200,000 miles on orginal engine and transmission. Benefit of oil and filtert service every 10,000 miles. Read more

29 January 2018

'Depollution system faulty' message appeared on 2005 Citroen C4 1.6 HDi 110 VTR Plus. Owner told to drive on motorway for 90 mins in 4th at 65 mph, which did not clear it. Garage is quoting £195... Read more

Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010): At A Glance

Buyers of medium size motors never had it better.

A much more solid new Golf; a dramatic new Astra; a better built, more refined new Focus. And now, stepping smartly from the bottom of the class to the top, the stunning new Citroen C4.

Five different petrol engines, from a hard-worked 90PS 1.4 to a fire-breathing 180PS 2.0 litre. Three diesels from a 92PS 1.6HDI to a 138PS 2.0HDI. Only 5 speeds in the boxes of all but the 6 speed 2.0HDI. And automatics on the way for the 1.6 and 2.0 petrol engines.

The two bodies are completely different, yet the space inside them is virtually identical. The cracking 3-door coupe is £400 less, and a benefit of its low rearward sloping rear window is excellent vision for reverse-parking. They are five seaters with five proper belts, but there's less headroom and comfort for back seat piggy-in-the-middle than there is in the new Focus.

Citroen C4 2005 Range Road Test

Citroen C4 1.6 HDi EGS Road Test

 

What does a Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010) cost?

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Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4260–4275 mm
Width 1769–1773 mm
Height 1458 mm
Wheelbase 2608 mm

Full specifications

As befits a Citroen, the dashboard is radical. The centre digital speedo is translucent so you can easily check your speed in all lighting conditions. The rev counter sits just above the fixed steering wheel hub and glows completely red when you red-line. Audio controls, cruise control and speed limiter, phone controls and multi-function display controls are grouped around the fixed hub, with the horn at the bottom. It all works wonderfully well.

And the equipment lists just go on and on: cruise control with speed limiter in all models; lane departure warning system optional in top models, which vibrates the seat if you cross a white line without signalling; directional Xenon headlights; NaviDrive or Bluetooth pre-prep for hands-free use of mobile phones; front and rear parking sensors; tyre pressure sensors; laminated side glass; a partitionable boot to stop things rolling around; Thatcham 5-star anti-theft system (emergency wheel now stowed inside the boot); 5CD autochanger in the armrest; even a built-in air freshener that adds a choice of fragrances to air entering the car; an expected 5 star NCAP rating for crash safety and 3 stars for pedestrian safety. In Citroen's words, it's "alive with technology". But what's nice is that none of it is gimmicky. It all makes sense.

Child seats that fit a Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010)

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What's the Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010) like to drive?

I got to drive four variations, in completely the wrong order, starting with the range-topping 180PS VTS coupe, externally distinguished by a hoop spoiler over the back window and internally by a really nice brushed aluminium dash panel. The roads were a very good test, ranging from bumpy narrow single tracks to fast, smooth, undulating ‘A' and ‘B' roads, with good sight lines and hardly any traffic. And it was raining most of the time so there were patches of standing water to contend with.

In those conditions, some cars fall to pieces, especially if their tyres are too wide and their suspension too stiff. Not this one. The VTS simply romped it. Fast, safe, with minimum understeer and none of the ‘rear steer' Citroen featured on the ZX and Xsara.

Next, the most important model: the 1.6HDI 110, which it should be noted isn't cheap. At £14,895 for the 5-door SX and £15,495 for the 3-door VTR Plus, the 110PS diesel is a whacking £1,700 more than the equivalent 110PS petrol versions. For that you also get ESP, and you could save a whole £1,000 by plumping for the 92PS 1.6HDI. That said, Focus 1.6 TDCI 110 Eu IV LX 5-doors start at £14,690, so it's HDI 110 prices rather than Citroen prices that are out of line.

I like PSA's 1.6 110PS 16v diesel so much I expected a great drive, and I got it. Not quite as much ultimate grip as the VTS 180, but a bit more compliant Plenty of power and torque, and not too much as can be the case from PSA and VAG 2.0 litre 16v diesels. And a red-line of 5,000rpm, which makes it more petrol-like to drive. The right engine in the right car for today.

The 138PS 2.0 petrol VTS is pretty good too. Quick, smooth. Handles nicely. And at £14,895 (£600 less) it's a sportier though juicier alternative to the dearer 110PS HDI VTR Plus.

Lastly, but not leastly, the £13,195 110PS 1.6 petrol SX, closest in spec to the 115PS Focus Ti-VCT driven last week. And the crucial question: which is best?

These two cars really are neck and neck. They both ride and handle better than the equivalent Golf (I haven't driven a 1.6 Astra). But the roads I drove them on were very different. Nothing much in it on performance. The C4 SX has a horrible plastic steering wheel rim, but you can soon ignore that. The ride is compliant. Handling both tidy and fun. Yet the Focus ride and handling combination is more completely developed, just that tiny bit closer to perfection and more satisfying as a result.

But there really isn't much in it. The Focus is slightly more solid. It feels better put together. On the other hand, the C4 looks fresh and stylish where the Focus looks conservative and dull. You could argue one against the other endlessly. And at the end of the day plump for your choice while still respecting your best mate's reasons for buying the other.

Footnote: A week with a C4 1.6 HDI proved a bit more illuminating than the one day test-drive of various different models in the range.

The 1.6 16v diesel remains a stunning combination of petrol smoothness with diesel ooph. I took a Porsche Cayenne and BMW 318C1 2.0 owner for a short ride and neither of them realised it was a diesel. The handling and grip are definitely first class. The ride suffers slightly on 205/50 ZR 17 tyres but not the car's ability to surmount speedhumps, which it dismisses with contemptuous ease. Gearing is exactly right at 30mph per 1,000rpm in 5th. Biggest problem is that, even for me, the narrow footwell simply isn't deep enough. I'm just 5' 9" and driving close-up I couldn't get my left foot off the clutch. So I had to drive long-legged and that didn't leave enough room for me to comfortably sit behind myself. I think the C4 is definitely going to present problems for taller drivers. Another criticism is the lack of anywhere to lay down a ‘Bluetooth' phone. For most of us, a mobile and linked earphone make more sense than a car manufacturer's integrated system that might not be compatible with our phones. But I wound up having to stick my phone in the ashtray.

Another questionmark is, though the 92PS 1.6HDI and the 136PS 2.0HDI are EU4, the 110PS 1.6HDI isn't. If it was, the BIK base would be 15%. As it is, the BIK base is 18%. So company drivers pay on the basis of their car costing 20% more. At £2,564,the BIK base of the same VTR-Plus 5 door with the 136PS 2.0HDI is less than the £2,861 for the 110PS 1.6HDI.

So, minor niggles and a major one for company drivers choosing the 1.6HDI 110 in 2005. It's still an excellent car. And up there with the Focus at the top of a class containing some other very good cars.

 

UPDATE: CITROEN C4 1.6 HDI EGS

This may look like just another Citroen C4.

But it is actually one of the most ‘environmentally correct' cars you can buy.

It's a medium size 5-door, 5-seat hatchback with a 110PS 1.6 litre diesel engine and a six-speed transmission with an electronically controlled electric clutch. (You can drive it on an automatic licence.)

But what sets it apart from every other medium size hatchback (apart from the Toyota Prius) is that it emits just 120g/km CO2.

That will qualify it to be congestion charge exempt when the new 120g/km rule comes into effect in 2009. It delivers an official combined economy figure of 62.8mpg. And, right now, 120g/km means you pay only £35 a year annual VED.

So, what's it like to drive?

Slowly, around the suburbs and in traffic it's fine. When you stop, drive disconnects completely so you don't have to brake unless you're on a hill (no hill holder, unfortunately). Drive reconnects very smoothly when you set off again. And there's no jerk from 1st to 2nd.

It's not quite as smooth driving in full-automatic out on the open road until you get used to feather-footing the accelerator pedal and anticipating the changes by lifting slightly. I tried it both that way and using the paddles. But soon got the knack and even driving a hilly cross-country route in the snow found it better using the electronic change than paddle-shifting unless I needed positive downshifts for overtaking. The power, torque and gear ratios are all about as right for each other as they could possibly be. So, though this is a relatively low powered car, it definitely doesn't feel underpowered and it is possible to make excellent, smooth progress on A roads and Motorways.

The ride and handling compromise is very good too. Obviously this model favours low rolling resistance so the tyres were 205/55 R16 Michelin Energy. Not the grippiest, but probably the most sensible for the car. Eventually it slides, but you know well in advance what its limits are and it stays easily controllable even over its limits.

Despite using the cruise control to limit motorway speeds to just about legal I didn't manage to achieve anything like the quoted 62.8mpg combined. But at 48.7 over 696 miles I did exactly match the official Urban cycle figure which my colleagues at The Telegraph reckon is always the best figure to go by. Not bad considering the car was fully laden with four adults and their luggage. And also remarkably similar to the overall figure I got during my long-term test of a Toyota Prius.

It's worth repeating some of the other excellent features of the C4, notably its extremely clear line-of-sight digital speedometer. (I've actually read the speeds of other C4s from this as they overtook me.) The cruise control and speed limiter are easy to operate from the rigid central steering wheel boss. The wheel is pleasant to hold. The seats comfortable enough for a 320 mile non-stop journey.

Good car, then. And a worthy, sensible alternative to the Prius, if and when the new 120g/km congestion charge comes in. But a good car anyway.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4i 44 mpg 12.8 s 153 g/km
1.6 HDi 59–64 mpg 11.2–12.5 s 115–128 g/km
1.6 HDi 90 64 mpg 12.5 s 114–115 g/km
1.6 HDi EGS 63–64 mpg 11.2 s 115–120 g/km
1.6 THP 41 mpg 8.4 s 164 g/km
1.6 VTi 42 mpg 10.0 s 159 g/km
1.6i 16V 40–42 mpg 10.0–10.6 s 159–169 g/km
2.0 HDi 51–53 mpg 9.7 s 139–145 g/km
2.0i 16V 34–37 mpg 8.3–9.2 s 182–200 g/km

Real MPG average for a Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

86%

Real MPG

27–70 mpg

MPGs submitted

316

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Citroen C4 (2004 – 2010)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What are the cheapest used cars with lane departure warning?

Some friends were recently involved in an accident and are keen to purchase a used car with some sort of lane departure warning system as a result. Can you recommend the cheapest used cars which have this feature or may have had it fitted as an optional extra?
Citroen C4 had this as an option from the start in 2005. Crossing the line set up a vibration: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/citroen/citroen-c4-2005-range-road-test//
Answered by Honest John
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