Citroen C4 focuses on refinement
TURBO ENGINE FROM PEUGEOT 308 HAS GIVEN THE CITROEN C4 NEW RANGE A BIG BOOST
According to local distributor Sime Darby Automobiles (SDA), the official Citroen factory designation for its new hatchback is C4 New Range. Not C4, but C4 New Range.
Somewhat ironic given that SDA has rationalised the C4 down from three variants to just one highly specified model in its just-launched facelifted form.
That’s partly due to the buyer profile of the C4: in its previous incarnation, 85 per cent of buyers opted for the flagship model. But the facelift is also surely an acknowledgment of the brand’s growing pains in New Zealand.
SDA relaunched Citroen back in early 2013 with the popping of champagne corks (literally) and an ambitious plan to increase sales by 40 per cent to 400 units in 2013 and 500 in 2014.
Volumes of 302 in 2013 and 381 the year after clearly haven’t called for another round of bubbly.
The C4 is arguably SDA’s most important Citroen model.
But following a major SDA restructure and ongoing dealer development, the company is sticking to its guns. It still wants to grow Citroen.
The C4 is arguably its most important single Citroen model. It’s always represented 20 per cent of volume and SDA’s goal is to increase that to over 30 per cent with the new car (between five and 10 sales per month).
It’s not immediately apparent how that might happen. The new C4 looks much the same as the old and the price has gone from a start point of $25,990 in the previous generation to a single sticker of $34,990 for the new car. But stay with us.
The sheet metal is indeed the same (there are new lights and extra chrome), but underneath the C4 has gained the outstanding 96kW/230Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engine already offered in the Peugeot 308. Despite being well down on capacity and cylinder count compared with the old engine, the new mill has 8kW more power and serves up a whopping 70Nm more torque at just 1750rpm.
With the new engine comes a six-speed automatic gearbox, which means a not-so-fond farewell to the ghastly four-speed gearbox of the previous model. The transmission helps with an impressive combined fuel economy figure of 4.9 litres per 100km.
But what about that price? As already discussed, nobody bought the old entry-level C4 anyway. The new model is still a $3500 step up from the previous C4 Exclusive, but gains extra equipment that includes a seven-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and keyless entry/start.
We don’t need to sing the praises of the new powertrain too much as it’s pretty familiar from that other PSA brand: it’s as smooth and energetic in the C4 as it is in the sister 308 and certainly a massive leap forward over the old model.
Despite a radical revision under the bonnet, the corporate pecking order dictates that this C4 is a facelift rather than a new model. It isn’t likely to pick up the new EMP2 platform that underpins the 308 and (oddly) C4 Picasso people-mover for two years.
It’s a tricky situation which Citroen has sought to deal with by refocusing the C4 on comfort and refinement, in contrast to the 308’s sportier nature. The suspension has been made slightly softer, there’s more sound deadening around the car and extra sealing on the doors. Even the seats have softer bolsters.
With that in mind, there are also a number of luxury-oriented options: a panoramic glass roof ($1500), flashier 17-inch alloy wheels to replace the standard 16-inchers ($1000) and a touch of high-tech with blind-spot monitoring ($1500), which is packaged with a colour-customisable instrument panel as fitted to the DS4.