The Citroën C4 family hatchback was recently reinvented as a coupé SUV. We've already lived with the electric car version, but now we're seeing how the petrol compares...

long-term tests

The car Citroën C4 Puretech 130 S&S Sense Plus Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it’s here To see if petrol power is just as appealing as electric in Citroën’s coupé-styled SUV

Needs to Have enough space for all my photography kit, keep me in touch with the office and be comfortable for long trips

Mileage 16,459 List price £23,010 Target Price £22,061 Price as tested £24,805 Test economy 48.7mpg Private price now £17,036 Dealer price now £19,165 Trade-in price now £16,632 Running costs £3900 (fuel)

26 April 2022 – Graduation day

When the Citroën C4 turned up at my door, it had a number of tough acts to follow. Having previously run enormous, go-anywhere pick-up trucks and a seven-seat SUV, I had some trepidation about whether downsizing was the right move. How would I get all of my photography gear, and myself, into the C4’s modest proportions? Well, after six months of ownership and more than 15,000 miles covered, I’m pleased to say that I needn’t have worried.

The coupé-like styling of my C4 ensures that it stands out from the rest of the SUV crowd. Indeed, I have fallen in love with the way my car looks, and although it may be stretching things too far to say that parts of it look like they’ve come from a high-end sports or performance car – such as the large air vents on the lower front bumper – I do think my car looks more aggressive than a lot of other family sized SUVs. And I like that. 

long-term tests

Those looks don’t come at the expense of practicality, either. I think Citroën managed to eek out every last inch of space in the C4, meaning that I never struggled to fit all of my photographic equipment inside. I was also pleased to find plenty of space for odds and ends, so my wallet, keys, phone and plethora of drinks bottles always had a home.

Like any in-market car buyer should, I made sure to do my research before picking the C4, and having read Al Clements’ reports on the larger C5 Aircross SUV, and Allan Muir’s opinions on the electric e-C4, I was excited to see if my combustion-engined C4 had the comfortable ride my colleagues had experienced. And it certainly did. In fact, getting into the C4 for a long motorway trip home never felt like a chore, because it excelled in those big-mile journeys, cushioning any blows from lumps or bumps in the road.

long-term tests

This smooth ride had another side benefit, albeit one which is probably unique to automotive photographers. In order to get the exciting car-to-car tracking pictures you see online and in print, we use a car in front of the subject, and getting that perfect shot means we need a car that’s stable, with a smooth ride which won’t jolt us around. The C4 quickly became my favourite car for this job, doing better than many more expensive models. 

The 1.2-litre, 128bhp petrol engine in my C4 wasn’t the last word in absolute performance, but there’s a good reason why we consistently recommend this engine across the Peugeot and Citroën line-up – it’s punchy enough for most situations, pulls strongly from low revs and is economical to boot. The fact that I got so close to the C4’s official fuel economy figure during my time with it is testament to that, and even though I was often travelling fully loaded, I rarely felt the need to put my foot down to pick up speed. 

long-term tests

I went for a manual six-speed gearbox in my C4, because having had cars with automatic gearboxes for so long, I found myself missing the more tactile driving sensation that a manual brings. I enjoyed the light shift action and short throw of the C4’s gearbox, and I wouldn’t hesitate to choose this again.  

The number of coupé-styled SUVs which buyers can choose from is growing by the day it seems, but my C4 remains one of the few options at the cheaper end of the market, and that’s why it shines so brightly in my opinion. It’s allowed me to have all the wow factor I wanted from my new car, at a very sensible price. Add in that it’s proved to be perfectly practical for my needs, economical and decent to drive, and has even helped me in my day job, and I’d say this photographer’s apprentice has graduated with honours. I wouldn’t hesitate to have one again.

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