THE funky and big selling Citroen C4 Cactus has deservedly been getting all the publicity and accolades because it is such a good car but there is more to the new C4 range than this star turn as I have just found out when testing one of the other models writes Bryan Longworth.
C4 cars have just been updated and I have been driving the C4 Flair Blue HDi costing £19,145 with one of the new and very clean 1.6-litre diesel engines with low CO2 emissions of 95g/km which means no road tax to pay plus a combined fuel consumption of nearly 80mpg.
Combined fuel consumptions are prepared in laboratory conditions and cause confusion to many motorists because real life driving conditions usually result in lower mpg figures often about 10mpg less than the quoted figure and the test car on board computer showed that my consumption was less than 80mpg but nevertheless it was still quite impressive.
But before I go any further let me say that one thing which bugs me with many test cars is that the engine stop start button is often placed behind steering wheel stalks making it difficult to locate and secondly speedometers that are hard to see which can be annoying and a major problem especially when driving past speed cameras.
This is not the case with this Citroen for the stop start button is easily located on the central console and the large digital speedometer is right in front of the driver in the centre of the instrument binnacle where it can easily be seen in all driving and light conditions.
The five door C4 competes against competition such as the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra so it is up against some formidable cars in this class but I found that it really does the business and makes a tempting alternative to the aforementioned trio especially.
With a top speed of 122mph and a zero to 62mph time of 10.6 seconds the diesel engine was ideal for press-on driving with excellent handling although I would have preferred the steering to have been a bit more precise especially when compared to the competition.
The seven inch touch screen which was a £440 option on my test car was easy to operate especially for radio tuning but I am still not convinced about DAB digital radio because on one of my regular runs into the Peak District I kept losing my local station which does not happen on the FM waveband and it is quite annoying.
I was pleased to find that temperature controls for the heating and cooling system were manually operated with easy to see digital figures because some cars now have temperature controls on touchscreens which can be irritating to operate and not very user friendly.
Citroen stylists have managed to give the C4 a different look largely through the new headlights up front and at the back the rear 3D-effect lights highlight the wide tailgate which accesses the sizeable load area that is among the largest in this sector with a space saver spare wheel underneath.
The C4 is available with three trim levels with the Flair as tested being the top trim and it simply bristles with standard equipment including very cool 16 inch Wembley alloy wheels that improve the side profile of the car.
As I mentioned earlier the quirky C4 Cactus which is my kind of car has been getting most of the accolades and rightly so but the C4 as tested is a very good hatchback and should have considerable appeal to potential owners looking for a car with more conservative styling as an alternative to the competition.
Model: Citroen C4 Flair Blue HDi 120.
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo diesel.
Output: 120hp @ 1750rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 122mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: Combined 78.5mpg.
CO2 emissions: 95g/km.
Price: £19,145 on the road.