mReview: Citroën ë-C4 - Better in Electric Form
French automaker Citroën has always been a bit of a maverick in the car industry.
In their 104 year-long history, they've usually taken the road less travelled when it came to building cars, whether it's in the realm of design or engineering – just take a look at their original DS and SM masterpieces to see what I mean.
And it's the same case here with their latest electric car, the ë-C4. With left-field aesthetics and intelligent mechanical setups that place ride comfort as top priority, Citroën is seeking to win over the hearts and minds of car buyers here who are seeking something a bit different from the norm.
Looks That Grow on You
It's truly love – or hate – at first sight when it comes to the brand's latest EV crossover. With bold strokes running across every square inch of the car, the ë-C4 is not meant for those who want to stay incognito in traffic.
This electric model shares virtually the same sheet metal as its petrol-powered equivalent, although now you get bright blue trim pieces on the plastic cladding, and a set of ë badges just below the side mirrors.
Like most other contemporary crossovers, the ë-C4 sits fairly high (at 1,525 mm) with 195/60 R18 Goodyear tyres, and is covered with black plastic panels on its lower half to sell the illusion that it's ready to take on the rough elements outside.
Its wheel arches bulge out ever so slightly, and its bonnet has prominent and sharp contours on the sides. There's even a stylish sloping roofline and side windows that taper towards the back; all intentionally crafted to exude a sense of sportiness and power.
I'm still not entirely sold on the V-shaped LED light signatures on the front and rear however, especially with their bulbous glass housings that seem to protrude out of the Citroën's metal shell.
But there's no denying that when it comes to low-light situations, these lights do a commendable job in illuminating the road ahead, and even giving the ë-C4 a distinctive look.
And in Citroën's credit, the chrome horizontal trim pieces that seamlessly blend the LED daytime running lights with the double-chevron badge are gorgeous.
Things are decidedly more grounded and sensible on the inside, with logically laid-out switchgear and highly ergonomic seats to cocoon all occupants in comfort. It's also specced out rather nicely, with a dual-screen setup and a sleek head-up display for the driver.
Squint hard enough and you'll even find similarities with the Mokka-e and e-2008; after all, they hail from the same Stellantis family and cross-share plenty of parts. And that's not a bad thing, especially if they work perfectly fine.
With that said, the ë-C4 does possess some qualities that make it a uniquely Citroën product. The door card is peppered with bright blue textured panels to liven things up, complete with subtle contrasting patterns printed on it.
It also uses the brand's Advanced Comfort seats, just like the ones found in its larger C5 Aircross sibling. In other words, you get supple and cushy fabric-leather seats that remain supportive even on uneven road surfaces, thanks to textured foam at the surface and denser ones at the core.
Other plus points are the highly tactile buttons and switches, such as the HVAC controls on the dashboard and the multi-function controls on the steering wheel. They are a pleasure to operate with, with the right amount of resistance and damping that outperform even those found in much fancier cars.
Connectivity in the ë-C4 is good too, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (albeit wired for both) via the dash-mounted 10-inch infotainment display. There is a port for USB Type A and Type C each up front, a 12V power socket, and even a wireless charging pad that's large enough for most smartphones.
The drawer-like glovebox is a neat touch, sliding out rather than flipping downwards like most other cars. I'm not a big fan of the tablet holder though. It slides open above the glovebox as a separate panel, but it's a fairly niche functionality that not many owners would utilise often, if ever.
Perhaps Citroën could consider omitting this feature on future iterations, and use the saved resources to beef up the rest of the interior, which seem to be full of hard and scratchy plastics.
Rear occupants will find it cosy at the back, with supportive seats and more than enough space for two full-size adults. You get dual AC blowers and the same USB Type A and Type C charging sockets available, which means cooling and device connectivity are guaranteed.
Headroom may also be a bit limited for taller passengers above 1.75 metres due to the sloping roof, so do take note. And with the considerable floor hump in the middle, a third adult occupant at the back is not advised for longer journeys.
Speaking of which, the ë-C4 makes for a decent road trip companion, with a boxy boot space that allows for up to 380 litres to utilise. The load lip is thankfully extremely shallow, so luggage loading and unloading procedures are fuss-free.
Remove the parcel shelf and flatten the 60:40 split rear seats, and you get about 1,250 litres of available cargo space and a near-flat flooring.
Buttery Smooth Drive
On the move, the ë-C4 is a smooth operator through and through. Thanks to its single 97 kW (130 bhp) motor that delivers up to 260 Nm of torque, it simply pulls away quickly from a standstill – in fact, much more assuringly than its petrol-powered twin.
For most drivers who are simply looking for an effortless driving experience right after turning the car on, this Citroën delivers exactly that in spades.
This extends to the steering feedback, which is exceedingly light. This means that along routes where lots of turning is required, the ë-C4 does not require much labour in turning the steering wheel. And when the roads get bumpy, the standard-issue Progressive Hydraulic Cushions system come into play, evening out most bumps and potholes with shocking ease.
It also excels in the braking department, which is not something I usually praise in many electric cars. The ë-C4 features regenerative braking to bring it to a stop without tapping on the brake pedal. There's still enough give for the car to creep forward in traffic jams, which I personally prefer.
However, should you want a bit more bite, the car comes to a complete and smooth stop when you apply the brakes proper. It even comes with active safety features as standard, such as Active Safety Brake that alerts the driver of obstacles ahead, and automatically slows the car down if there's no response.
On the flip side, it's not a particularly engaging driver's car. With the light steering and somewhat sedated power delivery, the ë-C4 feels out of place when pushed hard. Even when you press the lightning button to enable Sport mode, the crossover struggles to put all 130 electrified horses down.
And despite its sporty crossover looks, the ë-C4 is still very much designed for calm city driving. This means that with the comfort-oriented suspension and high-riding dimensions, it's unable to dance around the corners as confidently as other contemporaries like the Hyundai Ioniq 5.
Citroën claims a real-world range estimate of about 363 km, which in all fairness is more than adequate for most drivers in Singapore. During my testing, the range was on the lower end of the 300 km range, even with bouts of hypermiling.
Curiously enough, it lost about 8.0 to 10 km of range every time the car was started up. This is not a normal occurrence and it should be a one-off issue, as other Citroën (and by extension, Stellantis) cars with similar mechanical setups have not displayed this symptom.
Finalement, C'est Pas Mal
Priced at S$174,999 (accurate as of press time), it faces some stiff competition from companies like rising star BYD and even its own Peugeot cousin.
But all things considered, this electric Citroën presents a well-balanced package for those seeking an unconventional-looking vehicle that also meets pragmatic needs such as space and comfort, edging out its competition ever so slightly.
And with its smooth new electric powertrain, the ë-C4 is now an even more compelling option for buyers than ever before.
|Citroën ë-C4 50 kWh Specifications|
|Price: $174,999||VES Band: A1|
97 kw (130 bhp), 260 Nm
4,355 mm x 1,800 mm x 1,525 mm
Photo Credits: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)
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