Citroen’s first proper go at an electric family car has been successful, offering good all-round ability with a unique character
Very comfortable and refined
Practical family transport
Great charging capability
Soft chassis can feel a bit loose
Some rivals offer a longer range
Light steering doesn’t inspire confidence
PSA – the parent firm of Peugeot, Vauxhall, DS and Citroen – is on something of an electrification mission, with lots of new electric cars popping up from each of its brands. However, while its sister brands have had electric cars on sale for over 12 months, Citroen is only just launching its electric effort – the e-C4. It shares much of its DNA with the Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE, yet retains a character all of its own.
While in the metal the C4 has a very distinct crossover vibe, the French manufacturer labels this as a family hatchback rather than an SUV. Forget the protective cladding and slightly raised ride height – Citroen’s latest electric car has been developed to take on the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen ID.3.
Citroen has set the e-C4 apart from its Peugeot and DS siblings in appearance, but underneath it uses the same 50kWh battery and 134bhp electric motor as those cars. The result is a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds, a 93mph top speed and a 217-mile range on a charge.
The Citroen e-C4 also benefits from the same 100kW charging technology as its stablemates, which allows for a 80% rapid charge in just 30 minutes. Topping up at home from a 7kW wallbox overnight takes around seven and a half hours.
Citroen is keen for the e-C4 to be a viable family-car option, so particular attention has been paid to its interior and to practicality. In the e-C4’s cabin, quality is very good and a distinct step up from Citroens of old; standard digital dials and large touchscreen give a high-tech feel, while clever practical touches like hidden storage ahead of the gearlever and a tablet holder on the passenger side make it adept at dealing with family life. The boot measures in at 380 litres – just five litres off the Volkswagen ID.3’s – and there’s decent room in the back seats despite the sloping roof.
The car’s unique approach is also apparent once you’re on the road. Citroen’s ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ suspension is standard across the range, so the e-C4 sticks to the brand’s traditional comfort-orientated approach as it ably takes the edge off any nasty lumps and bumps in the road. It’s not perfect, however; the system can feel slow to react at lower speeds, while faster changes of direction often cause the car to feel loose or a little unwieldy.
The e-C4’s light steering helps with parking, but we’d prefer a little more weight for extra confidence at higher speeds. It’s less of an issue on the motorway, where the e-C4 really excels on refinement and comfort. Performance from the e-C4’s electric motor is adequate: punchy but without making you feel queasy with every prod of the accelerator. A dedicated ‘B’ mode ramps up the regenerative braking to good effect.
Read more: Driving Electric