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Citroen C4 – on sale now

Citroen

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Review

Since the introduction of the Euro NCAP crash tests, safe cars have become sexy. But now, as most newcomers seem able to gain five stars for occupant protection, greater lengths have to be reached before cars stand out as safer than the rest.

The lane departure warning system (LDWS), which alerts the driver through the seat if the car crosses white lines on the road at high speed, was introduced on the revised Citroen C5 and is now also available on the all-new C4 hatch and coupe range.

And in an attempt to move the sector goalposts on security, the C4 is also offered with laminated side glass.

This takes 10 times longer to break into than normal side glass, which deter potential thieves.

A further protective measure is that some versions of C4 have plastic covers attached to the front door to protect the bonnet release catch when the door is closed.

And speeding? Where cruise control is fitted, there is a limiter setting to prevent drivers breaking speed limits (this can be overridden in an emergency by stepping hard on the accelerator pedal).

The C4’s steering wheel centre is fixed to house a uniquely shaped driver’s airbag that is said to offer better protection than round airbags – buttons around the perimeter operate controls.

Citroen is coy about its sales ambitions for the car, simply because the C4 is so different from the Xsara, and with two distinct model lines it is a bit of an unknown quantity. The manufacturer wants a sector share of 4-5%, which should equate to about 20,000-25,000 units in the UK in a full year.

Franchised dealers have just completed a special training course on the C4 to ensure they are fully briefed on all the technology available, and a high-profile TV advertising campaign – where a C4 coupe becomes a Transformer-style robot and does a little dance before reverting to its original state – runs through the Christmas period.

While up to 40% of C4 sales will go to businesses and company car user-choosers, the lion’s share will be to retail customers, largely due to the relatively low profile of the Xsara in the fleet market.

With its strong background in diesel technology, Citroen believes the 1.6-litre HDi versions, offered in both 92bhp and 110bhp format, will be the strongest sellers with most customers choosing the mid-specification VTR and SX trim levels.

Strengths: Styling and safety
Weaknesses: Doesn’t match Astra and Focus for interior quality
Opportunities: Safety conscious buyers
Threats:It has been a busy year for lower-medium sector launches
USP: Who said competent means dull?
Prices: £11,095-£18,395
Engines: Diesel: 1.6 HDi 92bhp and 110bhp, 2.0 HDi 138bhp. Petrol 1.4 90bhp, 1.6 110bhp, 2.0 138bhp, 2.0 143bhp (auto), 2.0 180bhp
Transmissions: 5spd man, 4spd auto.
Efficiency: Diesel: 60.1-52.3mpg, 125-142g/km CO2; petrol: 44.1-33.6mpg, 153-200g/km CO2
Rivals: Focus, Astra, Golf, 307...

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