Motoring: Lots of choice from Citroen

Going into a modern-day Citroen showroom is a lot like a child opening the door to one of those old-fashioned sweet shops, its shelves groaning with all manner of treats and surprises.

Just like that emporium of confectionery, Citroen dealerships offer their visitors lots of choices. Take the C4 as an example. Unlike some manufacturers which have restricted engine choice, the family sized C4 is offered with petrol, diesel and all electric power options. After being overseen from the UK for several years, Citroen distribution in Ireland is once again back in the hands of the Gowan Group, an experienced distributor which also handles Peugeot, Opel, Fiat cars/commercials, Jeep, DS, Alfa Romeo and Honda in Ireland. Its parent group, Stellantis, is investing €30 billion over the next four years, so it’s a serious player.

My test C4 was a petrol-engine model. Sitting in the C-Hatchback segment of the market, it is considered to offer more than the traditional hatchback thanks to best-in-class height, ground clearance, seat height position and interior legroom when compared to its competitors.

With similar dimensions to some B-SUV competitors, the C4 can claim crossover status. While it has best-in-class height (1,525mm) and ground clearance (156mm), the C4 also offers pre-eminent driver eye height (1,220mm) for improved visibility and ease of access.

Citroen offers four different petrol variants, and all have similar 1.2 litre cubic capacities. The difference lies with the bhp which varies from 100-155. I drove the 130bhp version which came with a really nice 8-speed automatic transmission.

After a period driving lots of electric vehicles (EVs), it was great to get behind the wheel of a petrol car again. It meant I could go on a journey without planning in advance where I would find a charge point and worrying if the charger space would be free of other vehicles when I got there.

My eyes could focus more on the road ahead rather than continually checking the state of the car’s battery and the range that was left.

We are, of course, seeing ever increasing fuel costs, yet I still see this refined, sufficiently powerful and economical (6.9 l/100km, 41mpg) car as a worthwhile option. Electric cars most certainly have a big part to play in the market and will appeal to many people’s type of driving needs, especially as driving ranges increase, but I have to admit the petrol-powered C4 brought a smile to my face.

Featuring double-stage headlights with chrome chevrons stretched across the entire front of the car, the pretty C4 retains that French style trait we’ve come to expect from this carmaker. The Obsidian black metallic paintwork further enhanced its appearance. Its rear spoiler does, however, slightly restrict rearward visibility.

As with all Citroën vehicles, the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme features suspension with progressive hydraulic cushions, advanced comfort seats and, for the first time, Citroen Smart Pad Support which includes a retractable media support and tablet-holder on the passenger side of the dashboard.

It’s also got four USB connections and a boot volume of 380 litres, which is expandable.

On the inside, the contemporary dashboard, softly shaped door panels and soft, supple materials throughout impressed me. The 10” colour touchscreen infotainment screen - the nerve centre of this car - is also standard across the range.

While the wide horizontal dashboard relays a feeling of space, I was happy to see that not everything was controlled by touch. The heating controls, for example, have rotary-style knobs.

This C4 really was a lovely car to drive. I liked its comfort and driving elements and I fell fully in love with its automatic transmission; for me, this is a must-have option.

In terms of specification, there are four grades available: Feel, Feel Pack, Flair and Flair Pack.

I drove the Flair version, which was well-spec’d. The huge list of safety, comfort, convenience and leading technology features makes for a reassuring and happy driving experience. There is also a five-year warranty and three years’ roadside assistance.

It was the combination of choice, overall driving capability and extended customer care that persuaded me to give the C4 my number one vote in the medium car category at the recent Irish Car of the Year awards (a category it duly won).

Prices for the new C4 start at €24,740; test model, €31,690.