Though compact, the e-C4 can surprise with how sweet it is to drive and ride in.
Regular readers would know that I have a soft spot for French cars. This came about when back in the 80s, one of my uncles in Malaysia joined Citroën’s sales team. From then onwards, I was privy to Citroën brochures up the wazoo from a young age because he knew that I was enthusiastic about cars. Of course, that didn’t temper my deep-seated keenness for Saab (RIP 😢), but I digress. Citroën has held a special place in my heart ever since, which then brings us on to the e-C4 that draws inspiration from the CX of 1974 and brings it into the modern era, electrification et al.
Price-wise, the e-C4’s chief competitors are the BYD Atto 3 100kW and Nissan Leaf Electric, both of which are listed at slightly more than the e-C4 and the Nissan being the most expensive of the trio. All three electric vehicles (EVs) fall under COE Category A.
Aside from its iconic chevrons, one would likely notice the e-C4’s split headlights and daytime-running-lights (DRLs) arrangement. It looks a bit quirky, but Citroën is supposed to be the quirkiest of the French manufacturers, so this is right up its alley. The headlights themselves are LED items, and are complimented by LED foglights further down, which also double up as direction lights when turning either left or right.
The four-door coupe crossover sits on 18-inch rims shod with Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance 195/60R18 tyres. For once, you won’t hear a peep out of me regarding smaller rims and thicker tyre sidewalls in a bid to improve ride quality. More on this later.
Black plastic trims clad the bottoms and wheel arches of the e-C4 and contrast nicely with the test car’s Polar White paintwork, only being broken up strategically by blue anodized-looking surrounds. Blue… because electric. The doors also feature comfort access which unlocks the doors when one approaches the car with key in pocket, and locks them when walking away after parking.
Round the back, one finds a split-level rear windscreen that’s bifurcated by a spoiler, and flanked by split-level taillights. More Citroën quirkiness but this design cue comes together quite cohesively. Otherwise, the rear-end is simple and underlined by yet more black plastic cladding and underscored by the rear centrally-mounted foglight.
Boot space is modest at 380-litres, but we need to remember the coupe-like proportions of this four-door crossover. The boot floor can be raised and lowered depending on whether a seamless loading floor with no lip is preferred, or more cargo carrying capacity is needed. The rear seats can be dropped if even more capacity is needed, but Citroën doesn’t quote a figure for this expanded space.
The rear seats are rather comfy, but with the driver’s seat set to my seating position, legroom in the back is snug. So is headroom owing to the e-C4’s compact coupe-esque proportions, but not for me since my 1.82-metre tall frame consists of longer limbs and shorter torso. That said, one does need to watch their head when climbing in and out. I’d gladly ride back here for trips up to 30 minutes but not longer. Those of more normal to petite proportions won’t have any issues back here though, and will remain cool thanks to rear aircon vents that also feature USB charging ports below them.
The front seats are comfortable too, and feature manual adjustment fore and aft, up and down and for lumbar. It’s quite easy to get into one’s preferred driving position, and nothing got in the way of doing so. Both front and rear seats are trimmed in black leather and leather-effect textile, and more chevrons can be found here in motif.
The right-sized two-spoke steering wheel then falls naturally to hand, and can be adjusted for reach and rake. Both spokes feature buttons and toggles for various functions including audio and adaptive cruise control. Also worth mentioning is automatic headlights and wipers are standard-fit.
The instrument screen is simple, compact and easy to read. There are three display modes to choose from – Driving, Computer and Minimal to suit one’s fancy. A nifty touch is the side-lit mood lighting that brackets this screen and can be adjusted for brightness levels. Complimenting the instrument screen is a head up display (HUD), whose polycarbonate projection screen rises from the top of the dashboard and displays vital driving and adaptive cruise information, and warnings clearly and legibly.
Panning left, we find the infotainment which is of the touchscreen variety and features a physical volume knob and a couple of shortcut buttons below the screen for quicker Home and Car function access. Also featured here is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for smartphone integration. The latter worked well during my drive but I found the display area to be a tad small owing to the infotainment’s menu functions on either side still being visible. Not a big deal though. In-car technology isn’t the e-C4’s strong suite, but its simplicity and minimalism was also greatly appreciated. Also appreciated greatly were the physical aircon controls (YAAAAAY!)
The audio system is also pretty decent, although a bit boomy in the bass department but I was able to tune this to my preference. Bienvenue played crisp and loud and it was fitting to rock out to Celvin Rotane in a Citroën.
In yet more Citroën quirkiness, there’s a drawer above the glovebox that can be slid out to accommodate flatter items like files and paperwork, or presumably, an appropriately-sized laptop. Prefer to prop up an iPad or Android tablet to watch a movie? Well, the e-C4 has you covered there too with a tablet holder right above the tray. QUIRRRRRKY! But hugely useful.
Just a week prior, I’d tested a BMW 735i that was on air suspension. Folks, you’re not going to believe me when I say the ride comfort in the e-C4 is 85-90% that of the Bimmer. See, told you you wouldn’t believe me. Go take a test drive and experience it for yourself.
The reason for this is something called “Citroën Suspension with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions.” The French engineers must have dabbled in sorcery and witchcraft to come up a relatively simple suspension system that rides THIS well without resorting to air ride or the oleo-pneumatic system that Citroën was famous for back in the day.
Just as a side note, Rolls-Royce also used Citroën’s oleo-pneumatic system because it was THAT comfortable. But I digress. Back to the modern day suspensiony cushiony hydraulic thingy.
Even a rutted gravel track could not faze the e-C4, for it rode so well down the rough stuff. Actually, well before the gravel track escapade, and immediately after collecting the car, I collected Joel from the office for the photoshoot. You know those small but sharp humps found in multistorey carparks that can rattle your bones to the core if not taken very slowly? Well, the e-C4 thumped over one such hump at more speed than would be advisable as though it almost wasn’t even there, shrugged the damn thing off as if to roll its eyes and go “PFFFFT!”, and caused Joel and I to look at each other and exclaim, “SOOOO comfy lah!“
The story was pretty much the same for the rest of the drive. However, comfy does not mean a wallowing ride either with the e-C4 remaining well composed down streets and highways. That’s why I say the engineers must have dabbled in sorcery and witchcraft. With some escargot thrown in for good measure.
Visibility from the interior is good, but rearward visibility takes a little getting used to due to the aforementioned bifurcated rear windscreen. Not a pain though, just a process. A quirky one at that. Another quirk comes in the form of the blind spot monitoring system, whose glowing warning indicator in the wing mirrors looks like the birth of a new star or someone boring a hole in the mirrors with a laser from afar. Nifty!
The e-C4 is easy to drive and place going forward. In reverse, there’s an exposed rear view camera that works well when the weather’s dry but falls to bits when the skies open up. This is endemic of exposed reversing cameras and isn’t specific to Citroën. However, its compact proportions mean that the e-C4 is easy to park without the camera.
Another little niggle comes courtesy of the forward collision warning system that flashes up an amber-coloured warning on the instrument display and HUD, featuring the rear end of a car with the front end of another car close to each other and with stars emanating from between the two, with the words “Obstacle ahead.”
This system is a tad too sensitive and displays the warning even when one is not sitting right on the bumper of the vehicle in front. Given how chaotic Parisian traffic can be, I’d imagine that any hot-blooded French person would soon impale the instrument display and bludgeon the HUD with a baguette in a fit of rage given how frequently this warning flashed up. Why the system was made this sensitive is beyond me.
What isn’t overly sensitive is the way power is delivered to the road. 130hp from the electric motor delivered via the front wheels is not going to set any speed records for sure, but it comes in progressively and is easy to modulate. Floor the accelerator and progress becomes brisk but never unnerving, and keeps with the relaxed and comfortable ethos of the e-C4.
Charging the battery pack was also a straightforward affair, with Citroën claiming the charge level can go from 0-80% in just 27 minutes at a 100kW DC charger. My own experience suggests that this number is about right.
So what about energy economy? Citroën claims 14.5kWh/100km or 6.9km/kWh WLTP average, and I was able to better this number at 14.08kWh/100km or 7.1km/kWh over a test-driven 518km. This puts the e-C4 at number 3 on our energy economy table, just behind the current (see what I did there?) champion BYD Atto 3 and 2nd-place MG4.
Given the e-C4’s 50kWh battery pack, over 300km per full charge would be reasonable to expect. I wish the battery pack could have been a little bigger though, for 400km of range would have been ideal. As usual, the obligatory “your mileage may vary” disclaimer needs to be stated.
If it isn’t apparent by now, I really enjoyed my time with the Citroën e-C4. Nothing here feels contrived. Quirky, yes, but that’s what’s so lovable about this four-door coupe crossover. Plus its quirky looks turns heads. No one can ever accuse an e-C4 owner of driving something mundane-looking. It is SUCH a sweet car to daily-drive, and kudos to the French engineers who made it happen. Vive la France!
Photo Credit: Joel Tam (@r129_365)
Translation Credit: Christophe L
Battery Size: 50kW
Drive: Front wheels
0-100km/h: 10.8 seconds (claimed)
Range: 363km (claimed)
Energy Economy: 14.5kWh/100km or 6.9km/kWh (claimed)
Price: S$171,999 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Citroën Singapore
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