Alternative Gallic hatch is a gallant effort in a hotly contested sector and its price is as eye-catching as the design.

The third Citroen to wear a C4 badge is very spacious and comfortable for a high-riding compact hatchback that is highly specified for our market in sole (but customisable) Shine trim. You can’t help but notice the bold styling but ought to note the aggressive $40k pricing, too.

The C4 sits on a platform typically used for smaller Peugeot-Citroen cars and makes the most of every millimetre. Both the profile and various design details evoke memories of its spiritual forebear from five decades ago, the now-classic Citroen GS, judged European Car of the Year for its innovative design and ride and handling qualities that stood out in the early 1970s.

Contemporary design elements are original, cohesive and characterful. You get serious visual identity at the front with an unmissable double-chevron grille that extends into Y-shaped daytime running lights. Bold sculpturing in the bonnet and side panels breaks up the bodywork and the long, sloping bootlid features an angular spoiler on its trailing edge. Fancy LEDs live in every light cluster.

So that you know, the test car’s Caramel Brown metallic paint (a $550 option and another obvious talking point) appeared in combination with the standard grey colour pack and Urban Grey Ambiance cloth and leatherette upholstery. ‘Diamond-cut’ Aeroblade alloy wheels are fitted with fairly narrow-section tyres for efficiency and ride comfort. Other highlights are black wheelarch
extensions, a black rear lower bumper with dainty twin exhaust pipes, and ‘overtinted’ rear windows.

Up front, the flat driver’s seat is sumptuously padded but could do with more lateral support. And more steering adjustment would benefit taller drivers who otherwise enjoy a semi-command driving position. The roll-call of equipment is deeply impressive at this price point. You certainly get all the assisted driving tech and safety features you could hope for and an unconventional instrument and widescreen info layout with a useful colour head-up display. The 10-inch capacitive touchscreen has very good 3D navigation and some physical controls aid usability. Camera displays are truly excellent.

The offbeat character of the hard-working turbo triple is apparent at start-up, and has a gravelly but characterful tone under load, especially in Sport, but settles down nicely on a cruise and partners pretty well with the relaxed 8-speed auto. We encountered instants of low-speed lurch and some hesitancy from step-off. Some inconsistency is also apparent in the steering weight and feel, and as speed picks up, body roll can enter the equation. But most buyers will covet a smooth and quiet ride much more than dynamic prowess and the hydraulic cushion fluid-filled suspension mountings deliver in most settings. Given the modest speeds that most of our driving takes place at, you don’t really need more grip or dynamic tuning, although a Golf GTI driver will be in for a culture shock.

A quirky and relaxing drive, the C4 Shine represents very strong value and mostly shone during a stressless week of urban motoring. A bit more charm and driver appeal would help it live longer in the memory.


ENGINE 1199cc 3-cyl turbo-petrol

POWER 114kW@5500rpm

TORQUE 240Nm@1750rpm

TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN front-wheel drive

WHEELS 18-inch alloys

TYRES 195/60 R18

LENGTH 4.36m

WEIGHT 1267kg

0-100km/h 8.9 secs

FUEL CLAIM 6.1L/100km

PRICE from $39,900



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