Citroen used to be known for making some of the most comfortable and daring cars in the world, then it stopped making those for a while. But now it really wants you to notice the new E-C4, which is one of Europe’s most striking EVs to behold. It’s based on very familiar underpinnings, so its specs and performance aren’t anything new or impressive, but what you will do in this EV is turn heads.
The E-C4 is the electric version of the latest Citroen C4, which you can also have as a diesel or gasoline model, and you can even get it with a manual gearbox. But the electric one is easily the pick of the range, since it’s the quietest and because of its extra weight, it also has the best ride quality.
|2022 Citroen e-C4
|1 Permanent magnet synchronous motor
|134 hp / 260 Nm (191 lb-ft)
|50 kWh (45 kWh usable) Lithium-Ion
|219 miles (353 km) WLTP
|€41,009 before incentives
But you won’t discover how comfy the E-C4 actually is if you can’t get over the way it looks and dare to step aboard. It is a bold departure from the old C4, a forgettable hatchback related to the Peugeot 308, and in fact, it’s no longer a hatchback. Citroen has turned the latest C4 into a kind of high-riding coupe-like crossover that doesn’t appear quite as tall as most crossovers, although its ride height does give it away.
And we’re going to be talking a lot about the suspension in this one. Not necessarily its height, but its merits of being able to offer probably the best ride quality of any vehicle its size without even resorting to adaptive dampers. Citroen used to be famous for its hydropneumatic suspension, but that has been discontinued for a few years and now the manufacturer has introduced a type of progressive bump stops that turn the C4 (and the E-C4 in particular) into a magic carpet.
Gallery: 2022 Citroen E-C4 First Drive Review
As dramatic as the E-C4 looks from pretty much all angles, the platform it rides on is very familiar and not that new. It’s the PSA EMP1 platform that under new owners Stellantis will be called STLA Small and will end up being used in a whole slew of models including many that will make their way to America.
Just like all EMP1-based vehicles, some of which we’ve already driven, like the Peugeot e-208 or the DS3 Crossback E-Tense, the E-C4 is front-wheel drive only, moved by a single 100 kW (134 horsepower) motor that draws juice from a 50 kWh battery pack; usable capacity is 45 kWh and the vehicle is WLTP rated to be able to cover 353 km (219 miles).
Acceleration is leisurely at best, since the E-C4 needs almost 10 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62 mph), which is to be expected given that it weighs 1,636 kg (3,606 pounds); top speed is 150 km/h (93 mph). With that being said, you will never really be left wanting for power since the vehicle’s 260 Nm (191 pound-feet) of torque is delivered instantly and the vehicle picks up nicely even when you accelerate while already traveling at high speeds.
Citroen loves suspension so much, it gave the E-C4’s suspension its own... suspension. The company’s proprietary Progressive Hydraulic Cushions is basically another layer of shock absorption that isolates the vehicle from road imperfections and really does work. This is easily the most comfortable car this size that I’ve ever been in as it just glides over pretty much anything.
Further enhancing the plushness were my tester’s optional comfort seats which have 15 millimeters (just over a half inch) of soft padding. All this just makes the E-C4 feel like a car from decades ago, in a good way, and it woos you into driving in a relaxed manner.
One thing I noticed about the suspension was the fact that even though for the rear, the vehicle only has a semi-independent setup - a cost-cutting measure - ride quality was remarkable. The non-independent suspension usually makes its presence felt over bumps, negatively affecting ride quality and giving the rear end an unsettled feel.
Not in the E-C4, though. During my drive, I frankly didn’t notice this at all and I drove it on many bad roads and my city’s horrific tram tracks that really stick out and should have been refurbished 30 years ago. It just feels settled and planted no matter what you drive it over, even when you go over large road imperfections at higher speeds.
Another thing that dominated the driving experience for me was just how light the steering is. At low speeds, you only need a finger to turn the wheel lock to lock, and this overly-light feel never really goes away, making the E-C4 not the most precise machine going into a corner. The strong body roll doesn’t help either.
Phone Home, Phone Home
There’s no getting away from the fact that the E-C4 looks like nothing else on the road. Its face reminds me of some sort of alien craft - no matter how many new cars are sporting this type of look, with the separate daytime running lights and headlights that sit lower on the fascia, I just can’t get used to it and call it pretty. It’s certainly not unattractive, and it works with the rest of the design, but it’s also just a bit weird.
The side is my favorite place to view the E-C4 from. It has nice proportions, a very sporty fastback-like greenhouse and I really like how they made the upper part of the rear lights look like a little spoiler. It goes across the rear screen and while you can see it from the driver’s seat when you look in the rearview mirror, it doesn’t block that much of the view.
The rear light clusters also deserve attention. The upper part lifts with the hatch (the aforementioned small spoiler), while the lower part stays in place and it looks quite unique when open. Trunk space is 380 liters (13.4 cubic feet) and you can lower the rear seat to get 1,250 liters (44.1 cubic-feet).
Inside the E-C4 is quite roomy and visibility all around is surprisingly good. There’s a small quarterlight in the C-pillar that helps make the blind spots really small. The seating position for the driver is fairly low - not at all SUV-like - and the steering wheel is small and squared off on the top and bottom.
In front of the driver you get a small 5-inch screen, a similar size to the one in the E-C4’s main rival, the Volkswagen ID.3, although the Citroen’s graphics aren’t quite as sharp. No such complaints for the 10-inch central screen, though, as its is really sharp and it responds to touch inputs quite well - pinching to zoom on the map works fairly well, although it’s not quite at the top of the class.
Materials are not exceptional and while I didn’t mind the swathes of hard plastic on the dashboard (something that’s common in Japanese cars, for instance), I did not appreciate the limited padding on the central and door armrests - these were the biggest letdown for me as they just kept the interior comfort levels from being unmatched.
As a six-footer I had no trouble sitting behind myself in the E-C4. Interestingly, unlike other electric vehicles that are built on a common architecture with ICE models, the E-C4’s floor in the rear doesn’t seem like it’s been raised, which would push your knees up when you sit in the back, making long journeys uncomfortable. It is the same as in the ICE versions, as is the capacity of the trunk.
In spite of the way it looks, the E-C4 makes for a good everyday vehicle, with ample space for four and a realistic range of around 250 km (155 miles) on one charge. It is one of those vehicles that does reward careful, frugal driving and you should be able to hit 300 km (186 miles) without trying too hard and it is not too hot or too cold outside.
The electric C4 is a third more expensive than fuel burning models, starting at just under €35,000 in most European markets, and that’s before any incentives are applied. Here in Romania, for instance, you can get the E-C4 from €27,400 all in, which is a pretty good deal considering what you’re getting.
It doesn't quite have the best range or performance in class, but it's also not the most expensive vehicle in its size bracket, so if you can get over the way it looks, then it's certainly a worthy of your consideration.