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Citroen C4 2.0i 16V VTS Coupe review

Looks like no other three-door hatchback on the road

February 2005

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

4 out of 5 stars

Likes:

  • Looks like no other three-door hatchback on the road
  • Ride, handling and refinement on a par with Ford's Focus and VW's Golf
  • High level of equipment fitted as standard
  • Impressive cabin ergonomics, especially from the radical steering wheel

Gripes:

  • The unusual two-spoke steering wheel can prove tiring to hold on long journeys
  • Centre-mounted digital display requires some acclimatisation time
  • A number of the much-vaunted technological advances are optional extras
  • Elevated driving position doesn't mix well with enthusiastic driving

With the three-door C4, Citroen rediscovered its ability to design and market desirable cars. Yes the firm's C2 and C3 are pleasing to the eye, but the change from Xsara to C4 has been more dramatic. A more daring approach has been used for the C4's interior too, which includes noticeably higher quality materials, the inclusion of high-tech gadgets and a radical steering wheel design.

When a manufacturer is willing to take a risk with the design of a new model you know there's a deep-seated level of confidence behind the decision. Citroen's three-door C4, optimistically called a Coupe by the French firm, is one such example. The five-door model is attractive enough, but the three-door was clearly styled from the outset to be different.

After a considerable period of conservatism, the three-door C4 is a refreshing change - and a sign that Citroen is keen to capitalise on its past extravagant endeavours. It's difficult not to be taken in by the car's coupe-esque rear, what with its dramatic sloping roof and, in the case of the flagship VTS, a distinctive spoiler.

The compromise you make in terms of practicality is easily offset by the C4's looks. Boasting more kerb appeal than the conservative Ford Focus and Volkswagen's Golf, the only thing to come close is Vauxhall's Astra Sport Hatch. However, the Astra is all show as it's the C4 that follows up its extrovert display with an innovative cabin design, clever ergonomics and an interesting range of, admittedly, optional equipment.

Another turn for the better is the way the C4 performs on the road compared to its predecessor, the Xsara. Aside from the welcome improvements to refinement and comfort, the C4 in Coupe guise is fun to drive enthusiastically - especially in flagship VTS trim. It may not offer the outright pace of a Civic Type-R, but the C4 is more of a quick all-rounder and something that's just as happy on the motorway as a twisty B-road.

Our verdict on the Citroen C4 2.0i 16V VTS Coupe

A noticeable and welcome improvement over the Xsara, Citroen's C4 stands head and shoulders alongside cars that are often perceived to be more attractive propositions. That the C4 has been compared favourably in the same breath as Ford's Focus, Vauxhall's Astra and VW's Golf illustrates how much work Citroen put into its mid-size hatch. The 'Coupe' three-door model goes one step further: its racy styling is a real talking point and is a nod to the charismatic Citroen's of the past. The driving experience is equally impressive.