Published on Sunday 19 May 2013 14:35
(3 door coupe, 5 door hatch: 1.4, 1.6 petrol, 1.6, 2.0 turbodiesel [SX, VTR, VTR+, Airdream+, Exclusive, by LOEB])
By the time the Citroen C4 had reached middle age, the dancing robot had morphed into an ice skating one and the changes made to the car had improved it in a number of ways - some concerned with improving efficiency. When the original C4 was introduced in October 2004, Citroen thought that high-tech would sell the car but, in the event, it distanced as many potential buyers as it attracted. By 2008, the technology had matured very well, many of the C4's niggling reliability issues had been ironed out and the market, too, had changed. Buyers wanted a car that was inexpensive to run but reliable as well. In short, the C4 had to shape up or ship out.
The 2008 model year changes included subtle styling updates, a revised petrol engine line up, and the adoption of low-rolling resistance tyres from Michelin. The existing 1.6i 16V and a 2.0i 16V engines were scrapped in favour of 1.6 litre units (co-developed with the BMW group) called the VTi 120 bhp (Variable valve lift and Timing Injection) and THP 150 bhp (Turbo High Pressure). The interiors of the cars were tidied up a little and used better materials, there was a new navigation system with a 7-inch screen and a 10GB hard drive. The number of trim levels across the range was also rationalised.
What You Get
By the time the 2008 restyle rolled round, Citroen had managed to shift over 900,000 C4s, so the Alive With Technology theme was certainly chiming with some. The refettle involved restyling the front end to look more like the C5 and launching the 1.6-litre VTi (Variable Valve Lift & Timing) petrol engines. The mainstream C4 range is split between Coupe and Hatchback models. 'Coupe' is Citroen-speak for 3-door, the family-orientated 5-door derivatives being called simply 'Hatchback'.
The engine range opens with Citroen's older 90 and 110bhp 1.4 and 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol units. Best, however, to try and stretch either for a diesel or for one of the more modern petrol engines. Many will choose the 120bhp 1.6-litre VTi option, attracted by its 120mph performance and 42mpg combined fuel economy.
Interiors are spacious with the Coupe providing similar amounts of rear legroom and boot space to the Hatchback. The boot opening is narrower, though, and the levers that fold the front seats forward allowing access to the rear have a habit of sticking up to catch the shins of passengers climbing in.
All Citroen C4 models get ABS with EBD and brake assist, twin front and lateral airbags plus side window airbags. There's a multi-function trip computer, a CD stereo, remote central locking, electric front windows, electric door mirrors, power steering and cruise control with a speed limiter. This is a well equipped car and it becomes even more so as you ascend the trim level range. Citroen's Europe-wide navigation system, MyWay, was introduced, which features a high-resolution 7-inch colour screen, Bluetooth and USB connectivity as well as an audio system with a built-in 10GB hard drive.
What You Pay
The updated C4 range opens at £4,500 for a 1.4LX hatchback on a 2008 58 plate. Opt for a 1.6 16v SX auto and you'll need around £5,500 for a 39,000-mile car. Around £8,000 will net you a diesel, in this case a 1.6 HDi VTR+. A VTR+ petrol isn't priced too far differently. £9,000 lands a 2010 three-door C4 1.6 16v VTi by LOEB coupe.
What to Look For
Ensure that your C4 has conformed with all product recalls as there were call backs for a brake master cylinder and a front seatbelt issue, and new parts should have been retrofitted. The niggling problems of panel fit, detaching floor mats and intermittent electricals of the first C4 models were well and truly excised in the facelifted cars. Check that the rear wiper works, as the cable routing can lead to fraying and the cruise control is prone to going on the fritz. The EGS automated manual gearbox is one to watch out for as clutches often give up the ghost after about 25,000 miles. Head gaskets have been an issue on the 1.4-litre petrol engine. The 1.6-litre HDi diesel 110 is deemed the most reliable powerplant.
(approx based on a 2008 C4 1.6 VTR+) Consumables for the Citroen C4 are reasonably priced. An air filter is around £10 with an oil filter retailing at approximately £15. Spark plugs are £9 each with a timing belt setting you back around £30.
On the Road
The C4 rides with impressive smoothness and composure but it doesn't quite offer the level of feedback you sometimes want from a sporty hatchback. The variable assistance power steering has an accurate feel and the car is nicely balanced through corners.
The engine range opens with Citroen's older 90 and 110bhp 1.4 and 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol units. Probably a better bet is either a diesel or one of the more modern petrol engines. Many will choose the 120bhp 1.6-litre VTi option with its 120mph performance and 42mpg combined fuel economy..
In general, these high-revving petrol units are not without their charm but many buyers will be swayed by Citroen's impressive HDi common-rail diesels. The 1.6-litre HDi oil-burner is remarkably quiet. In 92bhp form, it will reach 62mph from standstill in 12.5s and if you upgrade to the 110bhp option there's a 11.2s time for the sprint and the option of Citroen's 6-speed electronic gearbox.
It's fair to say that when the Citroen C4 was first launched, its new and relatively untested technology deterred quite a few used buyers. Neither was it a car without reliability issues. The quality control process tightened up notably over the life of the car and the post-2008 models represent a decent bargain. Far more adventurous than its Peugeot 308 sibling, the C4, especially in Coupe guise, remains a great looking car. If you hanker after a bargain nearly-new that's not going to look old for quite some time, this is a good place to start.