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Citroen e-C4 electric (2021) review: 4.0/5

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The Citroen e-C4 delivers on style and backs it up with a good electric performance.

Dave Humphreys

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: November 9, 2020

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: November 9, 2020

Tech Specs

Model testedCitroen e-C4
Electric system100kW electric motor plus 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmissionsingle-speed reduction-gear automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat hatchback
CO2 emissions0g/km
Motor tax€140 per annum (from 1 Jan 2021)
Range350km maximum, 300km 'accepted norm'
Maximum charging capacity100kW
Charging times30 minutes for 0-80 per cent battery charge on 100kW connection (CCS), five hours for 100 per cent battery charge on 11kW three-phase, 7 hours 30 minutes for 100 per cent battery charge on 32-amp domestic wallbox
Top speed150km/h
0-100km/h9.7 seconds
Power136hp
Torque260Nm
Boot space380-1,250 litres

The new all-electric Citroen e-C4 will be joined by diesel and petrol engines to give buyers a range of options to choose from, but it's the EV that we're getting our first taste of and it makes for an interesting and attractive proposition.

In the Metal:

Even though the Citroen e-C4 uses much of the same core architecture as the Peugeot e-2008 and forthcoming Opel Mokka-e, the quirky French brand has once again produced a more design-led vehicle that's sure to stand out from the crowd. The new Citroen C4 is classed as a hatchback, but we reckon it looks more like a crossover. Even so, it eschews the traditional boxy SUV shape, and instead adopts a sloping roofline that adds a sportier appearance to the car - and is somewhat similar to the fully electric Mazda MX-30.

Citroen's V-shaped lighting makes the front of the e-C4 even more distinctive and LED headlights are standard across the range. The sculpted sides and black cladding around the wheel arches and sills add a sense of raised ride height although there isn't a great deal of ground clearance in reality. That V-shape to the lights is mimicked at the rear, though the light clusters do look a little busy and, while there is a spoiler built into the tailgate, the Citroen does have a glazed area beneath it, similar to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and earlier Honda Civic models, so rearward visibility isn't that compromised.

Opening the tailgate reveals a 380-litre boot that includes a split-level floor. That space can be increased to 1,250 litres by folding the 60:40 split rear seats and, as the battery is housed within the floor of the car, this boot space is the same irrespective of powertrain type in the Citroen C4. Surprisingly, even though there's quite a slope to the roofline, interior headroom in the rear is good. There's a small hump in the centre of the floor, but overall, rear passenger space is good.

Up front is where the Citroen continues to deliver on its impressiveness. In the past, Citroen didn't always rate very highly for interior quality, often featuring swathes of cheap-feeling black plastic. Not so here, and while there is some plastic visible, the look and feel of the materials used are far better, which is a marked improvement for the French brand. A thin 10-inch touchscreen display is placed high on the centre console and forms part of a single unit that includes three physical shortcut buttons and the central air vents. Furthermore, Citroen is once again providing physical dials for its climate control (hurrah!), though you can still use the touchscreen to adjust the temperature if you wish.

There's ample storage space in the rest of the centre console, including space for a wireless charging pad that is flanked by USB ports of both types, and another larger storage space below accompanied by a 12-volt socket. Citroen doesn't utilise a traditional drive selector for the e-C4; instead there is a small metallic toggle switch and a small button for selecting 'park'. Behind that is space for two cupholders, but the Citroen's practicalities don't end there. By positioning the passenger front airbag higher up on the dashboard, there is a second tray-like storage area above the traditional glovebox. A pop-out tablet holder sits above this and, when open, allows for users to securely fit a tablet to the dashboard without affecting the safety of the front-seat passenger.

For the driver, there is a new steering wheel design that is modern yet clutter-free. The buttons on it have a high-quality look and feel to them, while a digital instrument display is accentuated by ambient lighting from either side. Citroen also fits a pop-up projector-style head-up display to reduce how much you need to take your eyes from the road.


Driving it:

You can't help but notice the supportive nature of the front seats when you climb into the Citroen e-C4 first. It's all part of the brand's dedication to comfort, a feature that it is using to help differentiate it from its rivals. This approach extends beyond the seats, as the e-C4 is also equipped with the company's Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension, which, without going into the technicalities of it, means that it is softer than most others'. Considering that so other car brands believe that firm suspension equates to a sportier or more dynamic driving experience, the setup of the Citroen is most welcome. Even on the largest alloy wheels available (18-inch in diameter) the ride is never anything but supple. Surface irregularities are nicely cushioned and even sharper, high-frequency bumps don't jolt through the cabin as they would in many of the C4's rivals.

Even though the Citroen e-C4 does have a softer-than-usual suspension arrangement, the handling doesn't fall apart in the corners. There is some expected body lean in tighter radii bends, but the e-C4 never lacks composure. Just as good is the steering as it delivers a happy medium in terms of feedback, not being overly light, but nor does it feel artificially weighted, even in the car's Sport setting. You'll need to engage that Sport mode if you want to match the claimed 9.7 seconds it takes the e-C4 to get to 100km/h from a standing start. It's not exactly neck-snapping acceleration, after all, as it only has a 136hp electric motor under that sculpted bonnet, but in all honestly why would you want more? The performance levels are more than adequate for the typical urban or city commuter and it can still clip along at motorway speeds with ease.

According to Citroen's WLTP figures, the e-C4 can cover up to 350 kilometres on a single charge over a combined cycle, which is more than the Peugeot e-2008 offers and should comfortably be enough for the average user. The Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Soul, as well as the Volkswagen ID.3, all beat it for total range, but these also have larger capacity batteries.


What you get for your Money:

Citroen Ireland has yet to confirm the specifications and pricing for any of the new Citroen C4 or e-C4 models. Once these are confirmed, this section of the review will be updated.

Summary

Depending on pricing, the Citroen e-C4 is one of the most promising electric crossovers of 2021. From its relevant driving range and high levels of comfort on the move, only its interesting styling may stand in the way of it becoming one of the best-selling electric cars of the year.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Kia e-Soul (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
Kia e-Soul vs. Citroen e-C4 electric (2021): similarly quirky styling means some will prefer the Kia e-Niro over the e-Soul, but both are mechanically all but identical. A larger battery gives the Kias a much better driving range than the Citroen.
Car Reviews | Mazda MX-30 (2021 pre-production) | CompleteCar.ie
Mazda MX-30 vs. Citroen e-C4 electric (2021): the Mazda takes a more unique approach, using a smaller battery, but it is just as sweet to drive. However, it offers less passenger space inside than the C4.
Car Reviews | Peugeot e-2008 GT-Line (2020) | CompleteCar.ie
Peugeot e-2008 vs. Citroen e-C4 electric (2021): despite using similar technology, the e-2008 doesn't offer as much driving range as the e-C4, but is slightly roomier inside and remains an attractive car.

Tech Specs

Model testedCitroen e-C4
Electric system100kW electric motor plus 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmissionsingle-speed reduction-gear automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat hatchback
CO2 emissions0g/km
Motor tax€140 per annum (from 1 Jan 2021)
Range350km maximum, 300km 'accepted norm'
Maximum charging capacity100kW
Charging times30 minutes for 0-80 per cent battery charge on 100kW connection (CCS), five hours for 100 per cent battery charge on 11kW three-phase, 7 hours 30 minutes for 100 per cent battery charge on 32-amp domestic wallbox
Top speed150km/h
0-100km/h9.7 seconds
Power136hp
Torque260Nm
Boot space380-1,250 litres