Citroen all-new C4 and E-C4 online launch event

In Citroen, Electric cars, Short Cuts by Kieran Bicknell

Representing Citroens latest attempt to conquer the C-Hatch segment, the all-new C4 and E-C4 was revealed o over 2,500 journalists across the globe via an online live-streamed event and Q&A session. Whilst the star of the show was, of course, the new C4 and E-C4, there is certainly an air of intrigue around the reveal event itself – is this a glimpse into the future of automotive reveals, with the majority of the audience taking part online? Only time will tell.

With the Citroen brand having returned to form over the last six years, Citroen has streamlined their product range and ‘sharpened’ their brand ethos, which has resulted in a 30% growth in the last six years, meaning that Citroen currently sits atop the top 12 fastest-growing automotive brands in Europe.

Government bills, climate action groups and emissions regulations have forced the automotive world to look towards alternative power sources, with fully-electric EV vehicles being the number one choice of alternative propulsion; Thanks to Citroens market reputation and customer base in the C-hatch segment, it means they are perfectly positioned to launch the new C4, available as both a traditional ICE-powered car and as the fully-electric E-C4.

Citroens brand ethos is Audacity, Comfort and Humanity – and it’s certainly fair to say the immediate design of the C4 is audacious. The styling is sure to be divisive – or ‘disruptive’ to quote Pierre Leclercq (head of design), though Citroen definitely deserves credit for producing such a bold design and not staying ‘safe’ whilst still producing a car that is immediately recognisable as being a Citroen product.

Designed to rival the Ford Focus or VW Golf, the C4 has ‘morphed’ into a crossover with some impressive dimensions to back up its strong styling. Measuring in at 4,360 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,525 mm high, the all-new C4 and E-C4 are significantly larger than their rivals, meaning the driving style will likely be significantly more like a small SUV than a traditional C- segment hatchback.

The design language is instantly recognisable thanks to its sculpted, angular ‘face’ and flowing silhouette which can trace its origins back to the Citroen CX and GS, with strong use of horizontal lines to emphasise the width of the C4. The all-new C4 benefits from strong proportions and a purposeful stance that is not common within the C-hatch segment, thanks to its raised ride height, long bonnet and large wheel setup. Keen-eyed readers will also notice strong C4 cactus and C5 aircross styling influence, though when asked during the Q&A session whether we should see the new C4 as a direct replacement for the current C4 Cactus, it was confirmed that this should be seen as an ‘evolution’ or ‘successor’ rather than just taking the current C4 Cactus and upgrading or updating elements as Citroen see fit.

Road presence is also a strong point of the new C4, thanks to its bulky, yet well-proportioned styling and ride height. Visibility should also be a strong point of the new C4 range, though I can’t help but feel that rearward and rear 3/4 visibility may be tricky due to the high tailgate lip and thick C-pillars that are likely to restrict the drivers and occupants view out the back.

During the presentation, a significant emphasis was put on the design and comfort of the new C4s interior, which stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest of the Citroen range in terms of style and technology. The centre of the dash is dominated by a 10” digital display which also integrates the majority of the usual controls you would find on the centre console, which is part of several initiatives designed to ‘open up’ the cabin for the occupants. Alongside these design cues, an openable panoramic glass roof also brings light and space into the interior of the new C4.

Citroen are aiming to become the measure by which all other competition are judged in terms of interior comfort and styling in their market, with the all-new C4 being designed to maximise interior space and practicality, giving the C4 the “ultimate comfort experience for drivers and passengers.”

There is certainly a smorgasbord of clever design and technology showcased in the new C4 and E-C4, with the aforementioned 10” display taking pride-of-place in the centre of the dash; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity feature as standard, along with wireless charging capabilities. A HUD (heads up display) slides out from the instrument bezel whilst driving, giving the driver a plethora of information without having to take their eyes off the road ahead. The front seat passenger has access to a pop-out device holder that is stowed in the front dashboard, designed to allow them to use their tablet or phones safely and conveniently whilst on the go. The new C4 features custom-designed seats with comfort at the forefront of their creation, including the use of a new type of foam that is specifically designed to improve vibration absorption.

Speaking of vibration, the E-C4, in particular, has a trick up its sleeve here; Specially-designed wheels on the E-C4 model are designed to help reduce road noise and absorb vibrations that become far more noticeable in an EV than in a combustion-engined car, meaning that EV drivers will also benefit directly from Citroens ‘Advanced comfort for all’ program. All models will also benefit from Citroens latest progressive hydraulic suspension, meaning the ride for both EV and ICE models should be buttery-smooth.

Safety is key when developing new cars and with the C-hatch segment being popularised by families, the all-new C4 aims to be at the forefront of automotive safety technology, with no less than 20 driving and safety aids built-in. One of the most interesting technologies featured in the new C4 range is the “Highway driver assist” which is the ‘first step towards autonomous driving’ – not to everyone’s taste, but no doubt it is easily switchable on/off depending on your preference.

Practicality is a strong point of the new C4 family also, with best-in-class second-row knee room, thanks in part to a rather clever cutout design for the rear of the driver and passengers seats, allowing rear passengers more legroom without the need to extend the wheelbase of the car further. Boot space is also promising, with a 380l capacity with the rear seats up, along with a 2- position floor that allows for a flat loading area when the rear seats are folded down, ideal for those family errands to the tip or furniture shopping.

Available with a choice of three petrol, one diesel and a fully EV powertrain, the presentation focused mostly on the battery-powered E-C4, and rightly so. ICE choices are all variants of Citroens 1.2-litre PureTech engine, whilst the only Diesel option is a 1.5-litre 101hp option, though it has not been confirmed that all engines will be available in the UK. The highest-powered powertrains will be offered with an eight-speed automatic, whilst the diesel is available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto box. All models will be front-wheel drive only.
The EV figures are certainly impressive, and represent Citroens commitment to their ‘Electric for all’ chapter. Powered by a 50 kW/h battery, real-world WLTP range is quoted as 350km (217 miles) whilst charging to 100km of range is possible in 10 minutes at a rapid charger, making the new C4 an ideal car for city commuters and those who undertake longer journeys on a regular basis. EV performance is quoted as being 100kw (equivalent to 136hp) whilst 0-62 is dispatched in 9.7 seconds, though performance is certainly not the aim of the game here.

Interestingly, Citroen expect to see around 8-10% of sales being made up of the E-C4, potentially even rising to 20% depending on government regulations around EVs and emissions restrictions.

Sadly costs and pricing have not been confirmed as of yet, though Citroens commitment to “clean, safe and affordable mobility for all” was re-enforced, which bears well to say that hopefully the E-C4 version, in particular, won’t be priced too highly, with the ICE version likely being less expensive due to readily available technologies.

One final note is that Citroen CEO Vincent Cobée stated that the launch of the C4 and E-C4 also leaves the door open to a new concept in the coming months – what that may be is unclear, though I’d certainly wager it’ll be an EV of some sort, following the ground-breaking Ami concept shown earlier this year and the new E-C4.

Order books are expected to open at the end of summer, whilst we can expect to see the new C4 range on the road towards the end of 2020.

Kieran Bicknell

Motoring writer

Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.