The Citroen e-C4 is a new all-electric family hatchback, and as well as offering the refinement of an electric powertrain, the e-C4’s main party trick is a driving experience that aims to be as comfortable as your favourite armchair.
There are increasing numbers of pure electric cars on sale, however new entrants in the family hatchback segment in particular are always welcome, especially ones that are relatively affordable. Enter the new Citroen e-C4 – could this entice lots of motorists to make the switch to an electric hatchback?
The Citroen e-C4 has a 50kWh lithium-ion battery with a 100kW (136hp) electric motor, with drive delivered through the front wheels.
In typical Citroen style, the design of the e-C4’s exterior styling is more unique than that of many competitors. Although it’s basically a family hatchback, the e-C4 also has a slightly raised ride height, presumably acknowledging the demand from consumers for SUVs. Inside, the dashboard has elements that will be familiar to drivers of other PSA Group cars, but it’s clothed in a – fairly simple – Citroen design approach.
The e-C4 has good amounts of space for occupants and luggage, with 380 litres of boot volume, or 1,250 litres with the rear seats folded.
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It’s likely that many potential Citroen e-C4 buyers will currently be driving petrol or diesel hatchbacks, and so the headline news is that the all-electric e-C4 is better to drive than a typical petrol or diesel hatchback, thanks to the refinement and responsiveness of the electric powertrain, and the ease of driving a car that requires no gear-changing.
However what sets the e-C4 apart is how comfortable it is to drive. Citroen puts this down to its ‘Advanced Comfort programme’, and in particular the car’s suspension system with ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’, which effectively cushion the suspension movement on poor road surfaces. Citroen would also say that the e-C4’s ‘Advanced Comfort seats’ play a role. Whatever technical features Citroen’s marketing department may provide, a comfortable ride was certainly evident on our relatively short first drive.
Comfort is also one of the drive modes, or alternatively you can select Eco or Sport. And there’s the ability to select ‘B’ for increased brake regeneration. The e-C4 is front-wheel drive, and combined with the 300 Nm of torque, enthusiastic acceleration out of wet junctions in Sport mode can sometimes result in wheelspin. Our relatively short drive didn’t allow a comprehensive test of handling ability, but other PSA Group cars on the same platform handle well, and initial impressions are that the same can be said about the e-C4. One benefit is the car’s 1,541 kg kerb weight, which is relatively light for a pure EV, which helps with a feeling of agility.
The infomedia system has elements that will be familiar to people who have driven other recent PSA Group vehicles, and it generally works well, and this system was supplemented by a head-up display on our test car. There are separate controls for heating and ventilation, below the touchscreen, which is good news.
There’s even a button that allows you to easily switch off the lane departure warning system (we’ve had increasing numbers of people contact us recently to agree with our view that LDW systems – supposedly fitted in the interests of safety – are, based on their experiences, one of the most annoying and potentially dangerous features of new cars, so well done to manufacturers that make it easy to disengage the systems).
So overall, our relatively short first drive showed that the Citroen e-C4 is a comfortable, refined and practical electric hatchback. However we struggled with one area – the gear selector, a small controller which you pull back or push forward to change gear – which sometimes didn’t appear to immediately engage Drive when shifting from Reverse. This may have been an issue with the early production French-registered test car that we drove, so we’ll reserve judgement on this issue for the time being.
The Citroen e-C4 has an official combined WLTP electric driving range of 217 miles. We report on the real-life electric driving range of all EVs that we test, but this wasn’t possible on this first drive event.
Most people charge their EVs at home; using a 7.4kW home charger, a full charge should take seven hours 30 minutes. You can also specify the e-C4 with the option to charge at 11 kW, which will deliver slightly faster charging when using a charge point with a three-phase electricity supply, such as at a workplace.
If you venture out and use the public charging network, a 0-80% charge will take just 30 minutes using a 100 kW rapid charger.
There’s also e Remote Control which enables you to remotely schedule charging or to set the car’s interior temperature – a very useful feature, especially in the winter months.
Electric cars do not charge at their maximum charge rate for an entire charging session – their charge rate typically starts off high with a battery with a low state of charge, then the charge rate decreases as the battery charge increases. See the charge curve for the Citroen e-C4 from Fastned:
The Citroen e-C4 is available in three trim levels: ‘Sense Plus’ at £29,180 after the £3,000 UK government plug-in car grant, ‘Shine’ at £30,130 after the grant (as tested), and ‘Shine Plus’ at £31,330 after the grant.
The e-C4 has a zero benefit in kind tax rate for company car drivers in 2020/21, and the fuel costs of pure EVs can be around one-fifth of the fuel costs of petrol cars.
The Citroen C4 is also available with petrol and diesel engines.
The UK government wants us all to be buying new cars that are electric by 2030 (plug-in hybrids have a stay of execution until 2035), so we need the widest range of EVs on sale for mainstream car buyers at the most affordable prices as soon as possible. The Citroen e-C4 is a welcome addition to offer motorists a pure electric family hatchback today, without waiting until 2030. As well as all the benefits that pure electric powertrains offer – including refinement, responsiveness, ease of use, low running costs and of course zero tailpipe emissions – the e-C4 delivers a comfortable driving experience, which is a very valuable selling point for a country with such poor quality urban road surfaces as the UK. And of course the e-C4 also offers distinctive Citroen styling. The Citroen e-C4 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.