First Drive: Citroën ë-C4
Citroën’s all-new family hatchback challenger follows other new PSA models by offering a full-electric version, promising a long range and low running costs. Martyn Collins takes the ë-C4 for an early drive.
Sector: LARGE SUV Price: £35,370-£36,845 Fuel: 157-168mpg CO2: 32g/km
The all-electric version of Citroën’s new family hatchback is the fifth and arguably most mainstream model in its electrification offensive, intended to shake up the sector.
Starting deliveries in January 2021, it’s built on the PSA Group’s CMP modular platform, this time in its longest form, and is mechanically similar to PSA’s recent electric supermini models, the Peugeot e-208 and the Vauxhall Corsa-e.
Underneath, there is the familiar 136hp electric motor, combined with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
On top of its zero tailpipe emissions, other fleet-pleasing figures of the ë-C4 include the 217-mile WLTP range, equating to 0% BiK. This figure seems believable, as after our mixed 25-mile test drive, the range was still showing just over 190 miles.
A Type 2 charging cable is included; the carmaker believes that most will charge their ë-C4’s via chargers, rather than a three-pin plug. When it is time for charging, it takes seven and a half hours to a full charge via a 7.4 kW wall box. Use a 100kW fast charger, and this drops to 30 minutes for an 80% charge.
Citroën’s USP is comfort, and the ë-C4 is the latest model fitted with its clever Progressive Hydraulic Cushion dampers; their best application yet in our opinion. Even as an EV, we’d go as far as to say this could be the best riding small-family car in its class. It’s comfortable with impressive composure, despite the standard 18-inch alloy wheels. But you can feel some extra weight (236kg) in corners, resulting in slightly more body roll, and the steering seemed even lighter and more devoid of feel than the ICE version that we drove at the same time.
The ë-C4 feels quick off the mark and there are three modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. Normal is best for everyday use, with the sharper throttle response of the Sport setting able to make the most of out-of-town driving. Eco is a charge-saving mode, with retarding of the throttle being the most obvious feature.
Design-wise, the electric C4 retains much of the design of the standard model; itself a big step up from the outgoing C4 Cactus and marking a clear move to coupé SUV looks. The main changes for thet ë-C4 are the addition of blue ‘e’ badges, a blue anodised colour pack for the front bumper and side trims, and different lower bumper trim, because of the lack of an exhaust pipe.
Inside, space is generally impressive, although the rear is more compromised with the curved hatchback design. Plus, ë-C4 models get their own custom set of interfaces for the touchscreen and instruments.
While the C4 is offered in four trim levels – Sense, Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus – the ë-C4 ditches the Sense model and kicks off with the £32,180 Sense Plus, which has a head-up display, Citroën Connect Navigation and innovative ‘Smart Pad’ controls.
From £33,130, the Shine trim adds adaptive cruise control and Active Blind Spot Protection. The range-topping £34,330 Shine Plus includes a premium Hi-Fi system, plus leather and textile trim.
Regardless of the trim, the electric Citroën C4 is sure to appeal to fleet drivers in the small family class, bringing all the benefits of an electric drivetrain but without compromising the brand’s renowned comfortable refined drive.
There seems to have been an explosion of plug-in hybrid rivals in the SUV sector, many from Citroen’s sister brands DS, Peugeot, and Vauxhall. However, the ë-C4 stands out with its impressive comfort and affordable prices.
Key Fleet Model: Citroën ë-C4 Shine
Strengths: Comfort, equipment, running costs
Weaknesses: Compromised rear space
Fleet World Star Rating