Citroen e-C4 review: electric, with a side of comfort

Damien O’Carroll
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  • Superb ride quality
  • Amazingly comfortable seats
  • Extremely easy to live with
  • Range rules out regular road trips
  • Petrol version does everything just as well, but for much less money
  • Rather have a bigger glovebox than the weird tablet holder...

Platform sharing can often throw up some interesting contrasts in how different manufacturers approach this whole car thing.

For example, everything Mitsubishi built (and, indeed, still builds) on the GS platform it shared with Daimler Chrysler was solid, if unspectacular. The Lancer, ASX, Eclipse Cross and 2nd/3rd gen Outlander were (and still are, in the case of the ASX and Eclipse Cross) perfectly good cars that people liked, and they sold well.

Is it an SUV? Is it a hatch? Does it actually matter?

On the other hand, everything Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep built on the same underpinnings was utter garbage.

The Dodge Avenger, Caliber and Journey, the first-gen Jeep Compass and Patriot, and the Chrysler Sebring were nothing short of dismal in terms of build quality, design, performance and, unsurprisingly, sales.

The e-C4 shares its underpinnings with all the other small EVs in the Stellantis stable. But it has a better ride than all of them.

It was a similar story in Europe too, with everything that Citroen built on the platforms it shared with Peugeot just tended to look worse and fall apart quicker.

So it is somewhat surprising that two of the best cars built on the Stellantis Common Modular Platform (CMP or e-CMP in electric form) come from Jeep and Citroen. Yes, really.

Everything car produced so far on the CMP underpinnings has been, generally speaking, a very good thing in either ICE or EV formats. The Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa small hatches and their respective small SUV siblings, the 2008 and Mokka, are all attractive, well built and impressive efforts.

The styling is distinctly Citroen, albeit sadly without 'airbumps' anymore...

But the Jeep Avenger tops the likes of the Peugeot e2008 and Opel Mokka-e by being a more focussed and refined effort all around, and now the Citroen has a very apt secret weapon that elevates it above its platform mates - its suspension.

The term “magic carpet” is well overused when it comes to describing ride quality, but it is really the only appropriate way to describe the e-C4’s ride quality.

Yes, in a very Citroen-y move, the e-C4 (and, of course, the ICE versions of the C4) feature a proprietary suspension set up that recaptures that old Citroen magic of handling well and yet also being exceptionally comfortable and compliant at the same time.

The e-C4 replaces the ICE C4's combustion engine with 100kW/260Nm of raw electric power.

While Citroen is known for its hydropneumatic suspension, that isn’t what is under the e-C4 (that technology was discontinued a while back). Instead the e-C4 uses Citroen’s proprietary ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’, essentially another layer of shock absorption via a set of hydraulic progressive bump stops that isolates the car from road imperfections.

And, boy, do they work. The e-C4 has easily the best ride of any car on the CMP underpinnings, with possibly the best ride of any EV I have personally driven.

The term “magic carpet” is well overused when it comes to describing ride quality, but it is really the only appropriate way to describe the e-C4’s ride quality. It simply floats serenely over the road, totally unflustered by surface imperfections of any size.

While fairly conventional looking, the e-C4's interior is spectacularly comfortable.

This ride comfort is only enhanced by the fantastic seats that boast extra padding over the previous C4.

While the interior is relatively tame by the standards of other cars on the CMP platform, it is nicely laid out and, in a surprise twist for a Citroen, sensibly and logically laid out.

Don’t worry though, as there is still a good amount of weirdness scattered around, most notably the super-weird (and utterly pointless) tablet holder that is essentially a chunky rubber sleeve that lives in a drawer in the dash and slips over a very specific-sized iPad, and then clips into a holder in the dash on the passenger side.

The clunky tablet is pointless and weirdly specific, holding only a few iPad models...

Weirdly specific, utterly unnecessary and taking up way too much real estate in the dash that would be far better off allocated to storage, it is a mystifying addition and totally in keeping with some of the weird stuff Citroen has pulled over the years.

The e-C4 has easily the best ride of any car on the CMP underpinnings, with possibly the best ride of any EV I have personally driven.

While the comfort and ride quality is deeply impressive, handling isn’t overly compromised by it, though it bears remembering that the C4 is now more SUV-like, with a slightly jacked-up ride height and the inherent handling compromises that come with that.

The new C4's seats get an extra layer of padding over the previous model, and are superb.

The e-C4 also packs the extra weight of batteries, but this ultimately helps handling by keeping the weight down nice and low, and while the C4 is by no means a sports car, it can certainly hold its own through a set of corners.

This, combined with the satisfying EV torque and that superbly composed ride means that the e-C4 is at its absolute best when you get into a nice smooth flow and make the most of its attributes.

This would suggest that the e-C4 is perfect for long highway road trips, and indeed it is, but for one thing - the e-CMP platform is still very much for small urban cars, and the small 50kWh battery is proof of that.

The boot offers up 380 litres of cargo space, a flat floor that is level with the boot lip and a nice, wide opening.

Citroen claims a range of up to 363km on the WLTP test cycle, which generally translates to under 300 in real world driving - more open road running will drop this further.

Add to this a maximum DC fast charging rate of just 100kW (20 to 80% takes 30 minutes) and the e-C4 (and, to be completely fair, all of its e-CMP platform-mates) starts looking far more like an urban adventurer than an open road explorer.

That said, if you are after a comfortable and capable small urban EV, then you aren’t likely to find one more comfortable and capable than the e-C4. It’s also a bit of a bargain at the moment: the future of this $69,990 model is up in the air (which is a minus), but Citroen is currently offering “demonstrator” models at $58,990 (a big plus).

ENGINE: Single electric motor with 50kWh lithium-ion battery POWER: 100kW/260Nm GEARBOX: single-speed automatic CONSUMPTION: 14.5kWh/100km, Range 363km (WLTP) PRICE: $69,990

What are the key statistics for the Citroen e-C4?

The C4's underpinnings are the same as the other cars on the CMP platform, namely a 50kWh lithium-ion battery powering a 100kW/260Nm single electric motor on the front axle. Citroen claims a range of up to 363km for the e-C4 under the WLTP test cycle.

Is the Citroen e-C4 efficient?

Citroen claims combined efficiency of 14.5kWh/km for the e-C4 and while we didn't quite see this during our time with it, we probably spent more time on open roads than we did pottering around town, which would account for the high 16s we were seeing.

Is the Citroen e-C4 good to drive?

If you yearn for the classic Citroen combination of superb ride comfort and handling that is confident and predictable, then the e-C4 (or even the ICE C4) is the car for you. Sure, things get a bit understeery when you really start pushing it, but why would you want to do that when it is so good at superbly comfortable cruising?

Is the Citroen e-C4 practical?

Despite its relatively small size and coupe-style roofline, the e-C4 is surprisingly practical. With a decent amount of legroom in the rear and a 380 litre boot (1250 with the rear seats down) the e-C4 is spacious as well as comfortable. It is, however, somewhat let down by the bizzare decision to dedicate the majority of the passenger's side dash real estate to the complex and pointless tablet holder mechanism...

What do we like about the Citroen e-C4?

The superb ride and equally superb seats see the e-C4 punching well above its weight when it comes to comfort and refinement. And despite that it is still perfectly good around corners too. It looks great - and distinctly like a Citroen - and is delightfully easy to live with on a daily basis.

What don’t we like about the Citroen e-C4?

The limited range does make it more of a city car, with road trips meaning quite a bit of waiting around charging if you are planning a big adventure. While it is quite pricey for a small EV, the fact that it is essentially in runout and you can buy "demonstrator" models for $58,990 takes care of that, but throws up another negative in its own way. Also, that pointless tablet holder is just weird...

What kind of person would the Citroen e-C4 suit?

Someone who yearns for a Citroen that returns to the classic brand values of a superb ride, excellent comfort and sleek looks. And anyone considering an electric Peugeot, Opel or small Jeep should at least take an e-C4 for a ride first.


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