Last updated on September 15th, 2021 at 08:54 am
- Practical size
- Well-equipped as standard
- Decent value
- Light steering makes drive uninvolving
- Longer range available from VW ID.3 for less money
- Mediocre performance
Range (WLTP): 217 miles Top Speed: 93 mph 0 to 62: 9 sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 3.2p
Citroen has a tradition of game-changing cars, from the 2CV to the DS and SM. But the company has been slow to enter the electric mainstream. There was the C Zero developed with Mitsubishi, and the recently released Ami has shown a return to innovative form. However, we’ve had to wait until 2021 before the quirky French manufacturer brought out a mainstream EV. It’s called the e-C4 and it’s an electric version of the new C4 “C Segment” vehicle.
Price and Options
The C4 has been through many variations over its model lifespan. It’s perhaps surprising to think that the C4 Picasso and C4 Cactus are variations of the same model. The e-C4 sits alongside new petrol and diesel C4s. All new C4 cars use a Groupe PSA (now Stellantis) platform called CMP, which is designed to support both electric and fossil fuel variants. So while this isn’t a pureplay BEV, it’s a bit more than just an electric drivetrain shoehorned into a platform initially meant for an internal combustion engine.
The drivetrain isn’t unique either. The e-C4 uses the same 134hp motor and 50kWh battery as so many electric vehicles from Stellantis. The Vauxhall Corsa-a uses this combination, as do the Peugeot e-208 and e-2008, the DS3 and even some vans from the group. The e-C4 sits somewhere between the Corsa-e and e-2008 in terms of size, although a bit closer to the latter than the former. This is a practical form factor for small families and city use.
The drivetrain choice is simple, and there are only three trims available with the e-C4 (the ICE C4 has four). The entry-level is Sense Plus costing £30,395, but for £950 more you can get the Shine trim, and for £1,200 on top of that there’s Shine Plus. All cars have the same 18in diamond-cut alloy wheels, LED headlights, rear parking camera and sensors, sat-nav and a decent array of safety features. Electronic heated folding mirrors and a head-up display are standard on all cars too. In other words, the standard equipment is quite generous, and you get keyless entry in all the e-C4s as well.
Moving up to Shine adds dark tinted rear windows and some chrome elements, a heated steering wheel, additional safety features, automatic headlights and front parking sensors, while Shine Plus adds luxuries like black leather seats, heated front seats, a rear armrest, more elaborate hi-fi, wireless smartphone charging in the front and an additional USB-C port for the rear.
There is a range of colour, design options and extras available. The basic colour is white, while £545 extra will get you grey, black, brown, light blue or platinum grey metallic. Red metallic paint costs £700. You can add park assist for £350 (Shine and Shine Plus only), and there are five colour packs that are free with most trims and £150 with the Sense Plus. You can also upgrade to 11kW three-phase AC charging for £300 and add a glazed sunroof for £800. An integrated dashcam is £300 and the Smart Pad system is an additional £100 if you add specific support for the iPad Air 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tablet A 10.5in.
You can add a few of the features from the next trim up as well, but they soon add up, making it much better value to just get the more expensive trim in the first place.
The e-C4 has typical Citroen cues with front lights like angry eye slits and the logo integrated into the grille design. The overall appearance is shapely and attractive. Although there’s the usual high stance we see from cars that flirt with being a “crossover”, the car still looks compact. The curves help the appearance but will reduce rear seat and boot space.
The e-C4 is a “C-segment” vehicle, so is a medium-sized car. It is smaller than the C4 Picasso and bears the greatest resemblance to the C4 Cactus, but the rugged plastic trim elements are much more maturely integrated. The alloys that are standard across all cars are bold and modern. It’s also surprising to see 18in rims as a standard fixture, further accentuating the value of the e-C4.
Whatever trim you choose, the e-C4’s interior will be black. For the Sense Plus and Shine trims, the material will be synthetic, while for the Shine Plus there will be some leather involved as well. The Shine Plus’s front seats are also heated. However, while these also have a massaging function, they are not electronically adjusted, which is a surprising omission in an otherwise comprehensive set of luxury features. The Shine and Shine Plus also add a heated steering wheel.
The headroom in the front is excellent, and the seats are comfortable. There’s a small cubby under the front arm rest, and a sliding door in the central console hides a pair of cupholders. There’s another small cubby further along, with Type A and Type C USB ports for phone charging plus a 12V car power adapter socket. With the Shine Plus you get wireless Qi charging for mobile phones.
The glove compartment is reasonably sized but some of its potential capacity is taken by the Citroen Smart Pad system. This includes a drawer within which you can stow your tablet in a special holder, with specific versions available for the iPad Air 2 or Samsung Tablet A 10.5in. Above this is a mount that also slides out of the dashboard. You then attach the tablet to this mount for the passenger to view – kind of a DIY Tesla media screen.
The rear has plenty of knee room – something Citroen claims is best in class, measuring 198mm. The headroom isn’t so much as the front nor as much as many high-riding electric vehicles, including the VW ID.3, due to the fastback-style rear. If you’re six foot or shorter, though, the rear is comfortable enough. There are the usual magazine holders, and in the Shine Plus you get a central fold-out arm rest with integrated cupholders.
A welcome touch is the central pair of air conditioning vents for rear passengers, which can be individually adjusted. With the Shine Plus, this is augmented by a both USB Type A and Type C charging ports for rear passengers to power their devices. All other cars just have a single Type A connection. The two outer rear seats have ISOfix points for child car seats on all models, too.
Storage and Load Carrying
With the rakishly sloped rear roof, the e-C4’s boot is a bit smaller than cars in a similar class. The Peugeot e-2008, for example, has 54 more litres than the 380 litres of the e-C4’s rear luggage space. There is a small extra compartment beneath the boot floor for storing charging cables and other maintenance items.
The rear seats can be tipped forward with the usual 60/40 split, which expands the boot to 1,250 litres. This is decent but behind larger crossovers such as the Kia e-Niro, or the MG5 EV estate. The boot floor is flat, though, and the space available will be good for shopping and small trips with four passengers, or carrying quite a lot more with two, although it will be a bit small for taking your offspring up to university.
The steering wheel is conventional and includes well-designed switch groups left and right. The left is primarily for adaptive cruise controls, on cars that have it (Shine and above), while the right is for controlling stereo volume and accessing the functions of a Bluetooth-connected phone. There are traditional stalks for lights and indicators on the left, and windscreen washers on the right. All very typical, but well executed and there’s a clear view of the 5.5in instrument binnacle behind. This is entirely digital, with a big numerical speed display, clear remaining battery charge information, and simple symbols for other functions.
Of course, you may not need to look at the binnacle a lot of the time because the e-C4 has a HUD across the entire range. This emerges from the front dashboard when you power the system up. It uses a separate panel rather than being projected directly onto the windscreen, but the contents are also well executed. You get a readout of current speed and limit, distance information to the car in front, and a colour representation of the sat-nav next turn which is clear and useful.
The drive controls are in the central console. A rocker switch selects forward, reverse and neutral, with an extra button to select B-mode for extra regenerative braking. Another button selects park, but there is an entirely separate lever for the electronic parking brake. Another rocker selects between the power modes, which consist of eco, normal and sport. There is a full complement of discrete air conditioning controls, which is always welcome, so you don’t have to mess around with a touch screen to change the temperature. The air conditioning is dual-zoned, too, with separate settings for the left and right of the car.
The 10in touchscreen is universal with all models, and this includes Citroen Connect Nav. This pack consists of three years of TomTom Live traffic and speed cameras – one of the best services in its class. The sat-nav itself is a little sluggish but the map design is clear and there is keyword search so it’s easy to find destinations. There are large icons for calling up the DAB digital radio and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You can also stream audio from a Bluetooth-connected device.
The main menu for car controls is not that extensive, but logically organised. You can also use a button in the central console to call up the charge controls on the LCD, which include the all-important delay function so you can take advantage of cheap night-time home power if your energy provider offers it.
Performance and Driving
The e-C4 is not the fastest EV we’ve driven by a long way. It takes 9 seconds to reach 62mph, which is hardly sluggish by general car standards but is for an electric car, where even the keenly priced MG5 EV takes a little over seven seconds and the VW ID.3 is faster still. You get decent torque off the lights like any EV, just not as much of it as some. Citroen has clearly adjusted how it uses this drivetrain compared to other Stallantis cars, with the Vauxhall Corsa-e in particular more than a second quicker to 62mph.
It’s not all about speed, however, and the e-C4 is otherwise pleasant to drive. The steering is very light, which doesn’t make for a particularly involving experience but is very easy going. It’s particularly handy when driving at low speed or parking. The suspension is reasonably soft, with a bit of body roll in corners but while mildly rough surfaces are absorbed well, more extreme speed bumps do cause a noticeable clunk. The e-C4 sits comfortable at motorway speeds, however.
Range and Charging
Where the e-C4 falls behind other Stellantis cars with this drivetrain in performance, it gains in range. The WLTP rating is 217 miles, which is considerably more than what the Peugeot e-2008 manages with 18in wheels (191 miles). The Corsa-e also delivers just 209 miles. However, this is still notably less than the VW ID.3 with its larger battery can achieve, for around the same kind of price, and there are Kia and Hyundai cars that last considerably longer, albeit costing more.
Charging is performed via the now nearly universal CCS port. With a 7kW AC supply, you can charge the car from empty to 100% in 7.5 hours, so an overnight or working day replenishment will be guaranteed. If you’re lucky to have three-phase AC and the e-C4 11kW upgrade, this will drop to 5 hours, and DC is supported up to 100kW. With a charger capable of delivering this level of power, you can restore 80% capacity in 30 minutes.
At the time of writing, Citroen was offering a free 7kW PodPoint home charger worth £509 with a new e-C4 purchase.
With a 14p per kWh home power supply, the e-C4 costs a very reasonable 3.2p a mile to run. It sits in a fairly low insurance group 22, below the Vauxhall Corsa-e or Peugeot e-2008, but the warranty isn’t up with what Kias and Hyundais offer, with a basic three years or 60,000 miles of general warranty. However, the battery warranty is the standard EV length, stretching to eight years or 100,000 miles for 70% capacity. The service interval is every two years or 16,000 miles, which is another benefit of electric cars.
The e-C4 comes with lots of safety features as standard, including Active Safety Brake with video and radar assistance to provide night functionality and cyclist detection, speed limit information, and even Lane Keeping Assist, which is often a premium extra with other brands. A Driver Attention Alert and Forward Collision Warning are also included.
Particularly useful with the Shine trim and above is Adaptive Cruise Control, something we increasingly find hard to do without in the frequently heavy British traffic and lengthy average speed limit zones. You also get Blind Spot Detection. The Shine Plus adds Highway Driver Assist, which is an even more sophisticated version of adaptive cruise control but doesn’t include automatic steering. All cars come with rear parking sensors and camera, Shine and above add front and lateral sensors, but if you want a 360-degree view when parking that comes as part of the £350 City Park Pack, which adds Park Assist and is only available for the Shine or Shine Plus.
|Price:||Sense Plus – £30,395; Shine – £31,345; Shine Plus – £32,545|
|Range (WLTP):||217 miles|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||7 hours 30 minutes|
|Charge time (optional 11kW):||5 hours|
|Charge time (100kW, 80%):||30 minutes|
|On Board Charger:||7.2kW (11kW option)|
|Cost per mile*:||3.2p|
|Cargo:||380 litres / 1,250 litres with rear seats down|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh