C for charis­matic

The Citroen hatch had fewer quirks than pre­vi­ous mod­els but still wasn’t to all tastes

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

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.

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