New C4 is hoping to put the boot into its rivals
- 31 May 2011
- 2 Comments
By Philip Hedderman
THEREwas a time when I thought marketing was all about fake tan, spivs and plenty of old hat.
I still do to a certain degree, but my attitude is beginning to mellow a little.
You see, the old phrase ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil” was left ringing in my ears last week while testing the new Citroen C4.
As an “insider”, I should have been well briefed on the new C-Segment offering from the French Marque – and I thought I was.
I’d read the first reviews, scoured over the car’s dimensions and studied the spec which comes with each individual model.
I was armed with the necessary info, knew where I was going and there’d be no little surprises along the way.
There was plenty of surprises – all of them good and one which would turn out to be be very pleasant indeed – a deal maker.
But more about that later.
When all-new Citroen C4 premiered at the Paris Motor show last September it had one objective in mind – to knock the Focus off the Ireland’s best seller plinth.
Now, that’s a mammoth task and, if it had been the ambition of its predecessor of the same name, it would have been laughable.
Times have changed though … and nobody’s laughing.
The French boys have had embarked on a seismic shift in the way the brand is marketed (spivs in fake tan) and who it’s aimed at.
Build quality is the new buzz word and gone are the days when the double chevron symbolised cheap and cheerful.
Brilliantly engineered cars is what they are now striving for, not brilliantly made adverts which we all love.
To herald the dawn of a new era, Citroen also relaunched the DS beginning with the DS3 and is soon to be followed by the DS4 (launched her in the next couple of weeks) and DS5.
But there is no use having a funky version of a poor product so they tested the water with the C5.
It received a very positive welcome from the motoring press, as did the new C3.
But the Holy Grail is the C segment where Ford has dominated for almost 15 years now.
Breaking that stranglehold is not going to be easy and only a combination of excellent drive and handling coupled with a top quality finish will do.
The very first thing you notice about the new C4 is how conservative it looks.
You’d usually find something quirky about the design which would have the Marmite effect on you – either love it or hate it.
Not this time round.
That said, the ‘less is more’ approach on the outside is the Polar opposite inside and that build quality is evident from the moment you sit behind the Audi TT-style leather steering wheel.
The cabin is loaded with technology all managed by the Citroën eTouch system which controls the on-board computer, Bluetooth and cruise control.
Optional extras is quite vast and includes hill start assist, Lane Departure Warning System, Xenon lights and a blind-spot monitoring system.
It’s also one of the safest cars on offer with ABS with EBD , ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) and an army of airbags.
The new hatchback also comes with a 5-star Euro NCAP rating, including a 97% score in the ‘Safety Assist’ category – the highest score for any vehicle of its type.
It also has a gargantuan boot – boasting a class-leading over 408 litres of luggage space.
Great, but how does it drive?
Exceptionally well in fact.
There’s plenty of poke in the 110bhp 1.6 litre diesel and the steering is crisp and precise.
The drive was engaging on twisty minor roads and mega comfortable cruising on motorways.
It’s also very frugal thanks to the eco friendly diesel engine keeping emissions down (109g/km) and annual road tax to €104 while returning up to 67mpg.
The model I tested managed to squeeze well over 1,000 kms from a tank of juice and I can only hazard a guess that the six speed box could have covered a further 100 klicks.
All in all, the C4 is a very enjoyable, capable car but not nearly enough to worry Ford.
That said, nothing as yet has, but with scrappage prices starting at €14,999 it’ll certainly trouble the rest.
Yep, you read it correctly, the scrappage price is just under €15k – this is where the fake tan boys come in.
Citroen need to take a leaf out of Renault’s aggressive marketing book and get out there, in people’s faces and tell them .
With little under 29 days of scrappage left – I fear it’s too little too late.
The New C4 is available in three trim levels – VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive.
You can choose from three HDi diesel engines with 5 or 6-speed manual gearbox and a 6-speed EGS, plus two BMW co-developed petrol 5-speed manuals.
– PHILIP HEDDERMAN