Citroen e-C4 electric review
Citroen's first proper go at an electric family car has been successful, offering good all-round ability with a unique character
- Very comfortable and refined
- Practical family transport
- Great charging capability
- Soft chassis can feel a bit loose
- Some rivals offer a longer range
- Steering is too light
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||217 miles||7hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7kW)||30mins (0-80%, 100kW)|
PSA – the parent firm of Peugeot, Vauxhall, DS and Citroen – is on something of an electrification mission, with lots of new electric cars popping up from each of its brands. However, while its sister brands have had electric cars on sale for over 12 months, Citroen is only just launching its electric effort – the e-C4. It shares much of its DNA with the Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE, yet retains a character all of its own.
While in the metal the C4 has a very distinct crossover vibe, the French manufacturer labels this as a family hatchback rather than an SUV. Forget the protective cladding and slightly raised ride height – Citroen's latest electric car has been developed to take on the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen ID.3.
Citroen has set the e-C4 apart from its Peugeot and DS siblings in appearance, but underneath it uses the same 50kWh battery and 134bhp electric motor as those cars. The result is a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds, a 93mph top speed and a 217-mile range on a charge. The Citroen e-C4 also benefits from the same 100kW charging technology as its stablemates, which allows for a 80% rapid charge in just 30 minutes. Topping up at home from a 7kW wallbox overnight takes around seven and a half hours.
Citroen is keen for the e-C4 to be a viable family-car option, so particular attention has been paid to its interior and to practicality. In the e-C4's cabin, quality is very good and a distinct step up from Citroens of old; standard digital dials and large touchscreen give a high-tech feel, while clever practical touches like hidden storage ahead of the gearlever and a tablet holder on the passenger side make it adept at dealing with family life. The boot measures in at 380 litres – just five litres off the Volkswagen ID.3's – and there's decent room in the back seats despite the sloping roof.
The car's unique approach is also apparent once you're on the road. Citroen's 'Progressive Hydraulic Cushions' suspension is standard across the range, so the e-C4 sticks to the brand's traditional comfort-orientated approach as it ably takes the edge off any nasty lumps and bumps in the road. It’s not perfect, however; the system can feel slow to react at lower speeds, while faster changes of direction often cause the car to feel loose or a little unwieldy.
The e-C4's light steering helps with parking, but we’d prefer a little more weight for extra confidence at higher speeds. It's less of an issue on the motorway, where the e-C4 really excels on refinement and comfort. Performance from the e-C4's electric motor is adequate: punchy but without making you feel queasy with every prod of the accelerator. A dedicated 'B' mode ramps up the regenerative braking to good effect.
There are three trim levels: Sense, Shine and Shine Plus. Sense brings LED headlights, 18-inch alloys, a head-up display and dual-zone climate control, as well as a 10-inch infotainment system with sat nav and a reversing camera – a feature you may find particularly handy due to the poorly designed split rear window.
The e-C4 Shine costs almost £1,000 more and gets dark tinted rear windows, extra safety kit, plus keyless entry and start, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors and a heated steering wheel. Top-of-the-range Shine Plus is priced at £31,330 and features a premium sound system, black leather, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, four USB sockets and a wireless smartphone charging pad.
It may be very closely related to the Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE, but the Citroen e-C4 feels unique – quite a feat in today's platform-sharing climate. It's not different for the sake of it, either: instead, the e-C4 is comfortable, quiet and easy to live with, with its quirks only adding to the experience. The e-C4 is a breath of fresh air in a marketplace full of bland crossovers with no defined purpose.