Citroen C4

Turbo triple adds spice to French vanilla

MICHAEL STAHL

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

ITíS no longer all that obvious to me why people buy French cars. I guess theyíre cheaper than German cars, while still having some (Western) European cachet. But itís been a long time since we assumed French quality to be much superior to that of mainstream makes, and French cars have had too many sales suicides to continue striving for quirkiness and character.

According to those who sell the Citroen C4, its customers are private individuals who put a priority on ride comfort and relatively high equipment levels.

This first facelift of the secondgen C4 hatch delivers more of the same, wrapping a world-beating 1.2-litre turbo triple thatís so good theyíve ditched the diesel.

The 1.2-litre ĎPureTechí petrol three-cylinder produces 96kW and 230Nm and, Citroen says, is a staggering 105kg lighter than the four-cylinder petrol (and 125kg lighter than the diesel) it replaces.

No less significant is the six-speed auto, which is standard across the range and has more gears than the C4 has ever had.

In hand with idle-stop and kerb weights trimmed by up to 125kg, the new turbo triple slashes combined fuel consumption to just 4.9-5.1L/100km. And thereís nothing weird or polarising about its character; no coarse three-pot growl, no rough edges, no turbo lag. Just a really strong and instantly admirable powertrain.

Youíd have to be a member of that increasingly rare species of Citroen-spotters to pick the 2015 C4ís new exterior lighting and 7.0-inch touchscreen inside.

The latter brings sat-nav to both Seduction ($29,990) and up-spec Exclusive ($33,990) versions, both of which also get automatic dualzone climate control, cornering fog lights and cruise control.

Exclusive level adds 17-inch alloys, panoramic glass roof, part-leather trim, keyless entry/start, and a bunch more electronic sensors and cameras.

The C4ís cabin is spacious, airy and pleasant, and the materials are nice. The front seats appear small, but are wonderfully accommodating, while the rear bench is flat and the glass roof robs headroom. As for design, Iím not expecting Jean-Paul Gaultier but if you covered the wheel hub, you couldnít pick this from a Kia.

Mind you, thereíd be no confusion once youíre underway. The C4ís suspension is remarkable, simply in its competence and composure.

Itís just on the taut side of the comfort scale, and potholed dirt roads highlight the cabinís excellent isolation.

Citroen admits the C4 is no hot hatch, but it is a car that makes you want to keep driving. And, I suppose, buying.

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Citroen C4 Exclusive 1199cc 3cyl, dohc, 12v, turbo 96kW @ 5500rpm 230Nm @ 1750rpm 6-speed automatic 1240kg 10.9sec (claimed) 5.1L/100km $33,990 Now

PLUS & MINUS

Bland inside and out; flat rear bench; compromised rear headroom Ride; engine/transmission; quiet cabin; front seating; uiet visibility; huge boot

Award to the State

PSA Groupís turbocharged PureTech three-cylinder engine has just nabbed the 2015 International Engine of the Year award. Compared with the atmo PureTech of 2012, the turbo features a steel crankshaft, highperformance steel conrods, heat-treated block, reinforced cylinder head, sodium-filled valves and a 240,000rpm turbo. Max torque of 230Nm is electronically flattened from 1400-4400rpm.