C for charismatic
The Citroen hatch had fewer quirks than previous models but still wasn’t to all tastes
NEW Citroen, a brand dating back to the beginning of the automotive age, has never gained much traction with Australian buyers.
Its cars, while generally lauded for their innovation and refinement, have always been orphans in this market.
The more conventional C4 of 2011 had fewer of the quirks that had Australians scratching their heads. Slightly longer and wider than the previous model and with rounded lines, it was an attractive looking hatch.
Head and legroom were larger than the predecessor, even in the rear. The seats were firm but comfortable, the softfeel dash was appealing and the conventional steering wheel was a welcome change after the quirky fixed-hub design of its predecessor.
The three trim levels were base Attraction, the mid-range Seduction and the top-of-theline Exclusive.
In Attraction spec, the 1.6litre four-cylinder engine turned a conventional fourspeed automatic transmission.
Among the Seduction’s raft of extra features, there were four engine options. The petrol versions produced 88kW or, in the zippier turbo, 115kW.
The 1.6-litre turbo diesel (82kW) came in regular HDI form with five-speed manual or eHDI, with six-speed auto and fuel-saving features such as stop-start and regenerative braking that promised 15 per cent better fuel economy.
The Exclusive had the petrol turbo or either diesel set-up.
On the road, the C4 was entirely competent with a supple ride and reassuring handling.
The base engine, despite its modest output, was more than adequate in most conditions but the torque of the diesel made it the pick of the bunch. NOW Buying a Citroen in Australia is something of a gamble. Unlike other brands there aren’t dealers on every street corner and you’re a long way from France if things go seriously wrong.
Owners generally were happy they bought a C4 but weren’t so content with the back-up or cost of servicing from Citroen dealers.
Potential delays in shipping parts from France are among the ownership issues, more so if you don’t live in a major city.
Using a specialist mechanic experienced in Citroens rather than a dealer can cut the cost of servicing.
The six-speed auto can be off-putting as it’s not as smooth as a dual-clutch auto other car makers use. It’s worth taking a longer test drive to see whether you like it.
One owner reported issues with the transmission, and added that the dealer was having trouble fixing it. That makes it doubly important to take a long test drive before you sign up for such a car.
Take a close look around the car for evidence of crash repairs, make sure all features are working and ask for a service record showing regular maintenance. OWNERS SAY
Since I bought my 2012 eHDI auto last year, I’ve done 20,000km and have had no reliability issues. The little diesel delivers epic torque from low revs, highway cruising is relaxed, the rolling acceleration is strong and it averages 4.5L/100km. The cabin is quiet, the seats are comfortable and the ride and handling are further strong points. On the downside the single-clutch auto is not for everyone, acceleration from traffic lights is leisurely and dealer servicing is expensive.
I’ve had my eHDI for five years and overall I’m satisfied with it. It has been quite reliable and the fuel economy great. There is a clicking noise in the gearbox when changing gears and the cost of dealer servicing is high.
The eHDi is a great car and we love it. It’s very stylish and economical but the auto sticks in neutral at times. So far the dealer hasn’t been able to fix it.
I love the C4’s spaciousness, comfort, smoothness and outward vision but I had trouble with the steering soon after I bought it. It needed a new hydraulic pump, which took several weeks to arrive from France.
I bought a 2012 Exclusive diesel manual in 2013. It is lovely to drive, the pulling power of the diesel on the open road makes touring country roads very pleasant and the fuel consumption is exceptional. I have been very pleased with the quality fit and finish and the overall tactile feel of the car. The stereo is of a high quality and the dual climate control aircon works very nicely. The boot is very capacious for a compact car. My only complaint is that the low-beam doesn’t shine very far but the high-beam is excellent. It has now done 71,000km and hasn’t given a moment’s trouble. The original Michelin tyres will need replacing soon. Being a manual, the brakes have not worn much either. SMITHY SAYS Quiet, comfortable, refined and economical — but it’s not for everyone.