Citroen C4: Still going its own way
CITROEN'S tendency to bamboozle the consumer has been a consistent thread running through the company's history, writes William Scholes.
Just a couple of years ago, for example, you could find in its showrooms two very different models both wearing the C4 badge.
One was a wacky-looking family car, complete with plastic 'airbump' panels on its flanks, called the C4 Cactus.
The other was just called the C4 and was a more conventional alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
But where the C4 Cactus was wilfully individualistic, the regular C4 was what happens when a car gets enrolled in a witness protection programme.
Bland and forgettable to the point of anonymity - go on, try and picture one in your mind - the C4 quietly disappeared from the showrooms a while ago. Or at least I think it did - maybe it's been lurking quietly in the corner all this time, unloved and unnoticed.
Anyway, no such charge can be levelled at the new C4 which, while perhaps not conventionally handsome, is certainly eye-catching. It will replace both the dull-as-dishwater C4 and the idiosyncratic C4 Cactus.
This new C4 is cast in the relatively novel mould of SUV-meets-coupe-meets-hatchback, which among other things yields a higher driving position. Citroen says the car "plays with several design codes, which marks the beginning of a new era of Citroen style".
The interior is loaded with technology including a 10-inch high-definition touchscreen infotainment system.
A tablet holder has been integrated into the dashboard in front of the passenger, allowing them to view their devices while on the move should they want to. This doesn't seem to be the best idea, but there you are. Citroen says the airbag inflates above the holder - called 'Smart Pad Support' - so an iPad shouldn't smash in a passenger's teeth in the event of an accident...
Of more practical use will be the many driver assistance systems that we can also expect to find on board.
Citroen claims best in class rear knee room, while the glass roof should help make the C4 a pleasant car in which to travel.
Should petrol and diesel not be for you, there's an electric e-C4 version. It uses a 50kWh battery and 134bhp/192lb.ft motor which, Citroen claims, will return up to 217 miles between charges.
The battery comes with an eight-year warranty or "100,000 miles for 70 per cent of charge capacity".
Citroen says it will offer a "one-stop shop" solution for customers by installing a 32 amp charging wallbox in their homes. Using this, Citroen says "recharging takes as little as 7.5 hours with single-phase supply or even 5 hours with three-phase supply and an optional 11kW on-board charger".
If you can find a 100kW public charger, the battery can replenish "at a rate of approximately 6.2 miles/minute". Citroen says this is the best in the segment, and an 80 per charge can be completed in 30 minutes.
And as fitted on other Citroen models, the C4 comes with 'progressive hydraulic cushion' suspension to give the car a supple ride, though the company's comfy seats will doubtless help here too.
Underlining the gap between the fashion-free old C4 and the voguish new car is the option of 31 different combinations for the exterior alongside six different interior 'ambiences'.
Production will be starting after the summer, with deliveries across Europe expected after that. It's expected to reach Northern Ireland next year.