New 2011 Citroen C4 review

But while the new C4 looks like more of an evolution than a revolution, the new French hatch also feels like it has grown up -Citroen has added versatility, good running costs, a larger interior, stronger build quality and impressive specifications to the mix – all areas that count in the competitive small family car sector.

There are seven powertrains, including three economical diesel engine and three simple specifications, which are all well-equipped for the price range, which starts at around £16K.

This C4 is a little longer than the previous model, and packs in 408 litres of boot space that extends to nearly 1200 litres with rear seats down – and it wraps all that storage space in a conservative but clean design.

Get inside the new Citroen hatch and there are soft-touch materials and chrome details on the dash – it makes the C4 feel well put together and looks smart too.

You can personalise these controls to quite a high standard, depending on your own likes and dislikes and specify the likes of massaging front seats – a first for this sector.

Customisation even stretches as far as the lighting colour of the dashboard and the sounds the instruments themselves make.

The old ‘alive with technology’ claim is borne out on the C4 by gadgets like blind-spot monitoring system, cornering light function, Bluetooth, parking sensors, tyre pressure warning systems, cruise control and even eTouch Emergency & Assistance System, which alerts the emergency services.

The extra safety-oriented kit helped the C4 to a near perfect 97 per cent in the safety assist section of the EuroNCAP crash tests, and the car received a top five-star rating overall when it was tested in 2010.

On the road, handling is good but, like all Citroens, where the new C4 really works is the comfortable suspension.

The relaxed nature of the C4 will suit the innovative micro-hybrid diesel engine with stop-start technology and an automatic clutchless transmission, which delivers CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km and fuel economy of 64.2mpg.

This is enough to fall into VED band B, meaning £0 for the first year and just £30 in subsequent years – a major seller in the small car market as rising fuel prices take their toll.

A good all-rounder is the 120bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, which returns 45.8mpg on the combined cycle and offers a good balance of running costs and performance.

It may not have the sporty drive of the Ford Focus, but the emphasis with the new C4 is on attractive exterior looks, low running costs and a higher quality cabin packed full of gadgets.

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