We road test the stylish new four-door version of the pure electric Citroen e-C4…
The “affordable” end of the EV market is becoming extremely competitive – and Citroen is up for the fight.
Starting with the bargain basement Ami city runabout, through to the e-C4 hatchback, and up to the e-Berlingo and e-SpaceTourer people carriers, there’s plenty of choice from the French manufacturer in the sub-£40,000 category.
The latest model is the new e-C4 X, which isn’t just a saloon version of the e-C4. Sure, there’s some déjà vu initially because it looks identical from the front.
However, it’s new from the rear doors back, and unlike its sibling, it’s only available as an EV (no petrol or diesel engines).
And rather than just stick the boot in (remember the Vauxhall Belmont, Ford Orion and Volkswagen Jetta?), Citroen has given the e-C4 X a sleek derriere that’s much sexier than the hatchback.
The marketing blurb claims it “combines the elegant silhouette of a fastback with the modern look of an SUV”. I wouldn’t go that far, but it certainly has added kerb appeal.
The Citroen e-C4 X is around 240mm longer than the e-C4 cargo space is larger too (up from 380 litres to 510 litres). There’s also a decent amount of room for passengers in the rear seats, and if you need more load space, the rear seats can be folded flat to create an area of 1,360 litres.
Other than that, the e-C4 and e-C4 X are very similar, in terms of spec and driving experience.
Both are only available with a 50kWh battery mated to a 134bhp electric motor with drive via the front wheels. In theory this provides a range of up to 222 miles and delivers a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds.
You get 100kW DC rapid charging, meaning a 10-80% top-up can be completed in 30 minutes when connected to a compatible public rapid charger. Or to put it another way, hook it up to a 100kW charger and it will add 59 miles of range in 10 minutes.
Naturally, it will also fully charge overnight at home using a wallbox, and regenerative braking will recover energy otherwise wasted when slowing down or coasting.
There are three trim level available – Sense, Sense Plus and Shine.
Starting at £31,995, Sense kicks off the e-C4 X line-up. Offering the best value for money, it comes as standard with LED exterior lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus a 5.0-inch digital driver’s cluster, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, plus safety essentials such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keep assist.
Next up is the mid-spec Shine (£33,995) which adds built-in sat nav, a head-up display, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a reversing camera.
Finally, range-topping Shine Plus (£34,495) gets Alcantara and leather effect upholstery, heated front seats and Safety Pack Plus with Highway Driver Assist (semi-autonomous driving capability).
Inside, the e-C4 X is comfortable, thanks to Citroen’s famed Advanced Comfort padded seats. Elsewhere, apart from the odd hard surface, the cabin is a pleasant place to be with a logical layout.
Thankfully, up front it hasn’t gone completely minimalist and still retains some buttons and dials for essentials. The infotainment touchscreen is much improved, but it still isn’t the slickest system out there.
I also wasn’t keen on the old school head-up display which projects info onto a plastic panel above the dashboard. It works well enough, but it was right in my line of vision.
Oh, and a special mention for a clever storage solution above the glovebox which allows your front-seat passenger to view a tablet device via a retractable holder fully integrated into the dashboard.
On the road, the Citroen e-C4 X is much the same as its hatchback sibling. In other words, it won’t put a smile on your face, but it delivers a smooth ride (though “magic carpet” is pushing it) and impressive cabin refinement.
It doesn’t offer gut-wrenchingly fast acceleration like some EVs, but it’s eager enough for everyday driving.
There are three drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), but frankly Normal hits the spot. Eco is fine for pottering around town, while Sport adds a little zip. However, push it on more challenging corners and there’s a fair amount of body roll, so the e-C4 is best enjoyed at a more leisurely pace.
Elsewhere, light steering and a relatively high driving position add to the easy on-the-road experience. It would just be nice if the brakes were a little more progressive.
Real-world range is likely to be closer to 200 miles, but if you can live with that then the e-C4 X is a welcome addition to the affordable EV scene.
I suspect it may prove to be popular with taxi drivers too, because that boot can consume a serious amount of luggage. However, families might prefer the wider hatchback opening of the e-C4.
Rivals include the MG4 EV, Peugeot e-2008, Kia Niro EV, Ora Funky Cat and Renault Megane E-Tech.
Verdict: Sensible, smooth, safe, comfortable and practical, the all-electric Citroen e-C4 X’s distinctive design delivers a fastback-style rear end with the boot of a large saloon.