- Family hatch
- Refreshingly comfortable electric car
- More spacious than a lot of rivals
- All models are well-equipped
- Not the most polished of interiors
- It's not fast nor particularly fun to drive
- Real-world range still won't be enough for some drivers
Unless you're already a convert to the electric revolution, you may be torn over whether an EV is the right thing for you. Factors such as price, range and practicality are the key issues that come up time and again in consumer surveys and the Citroen e-C4 addresses all of these. It has a start price of a little over £30,000 (or, more importantly, sub-£400 a month on finance), the ability to travel more than 200 miles between charges and there's enough interior space to use it as your sole family transport.
It's based on the quirky new Citroen C4 and, indeed, doesn't actually look that different to a diesel or petrol model. That's because Citroen (like its in-house rivals Vauxhall and Peugeot) has taken the approach that it would rather offer conventional cars with a range of fuel sources, rather than sell solely-electric models (like the Volkswagen ID.3 or Renault Zoe).
Not that the Citroen e-C4 looks particularly conventional. Just like the standard C4, it's a bit of an oddity, in that it doesn't really know what it is. Citroen says it's not a crossover (look at the Vauxhall Mokka-e or Kia e-Niro if that's what you're after), but it certainly sits higher than hatchbacks like the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen ID.3. If anything, it's a coupe-crossover – a kind of budget electric version of the BMW X4 – similar to cars like the Toyota C-HR in size.
While the Citroen e-C4's a bit of niche model, it does one thing extremely well indeed: comfort. Its clever suspension setup means it will glide over bumpy roads particularly well – indeed, it's even more comfortable than the standard C4. That's unusual for an electric car as the weight of the heavy batteries usually upsets ride quality.
A trade-off is that it leans quite a lot if you enter a bend too quickly, while the steering is anything but sporty. There's plenty of grip, though and it feels reassuringly safe to drive.
There's just one motor/battery combination available in the Citroen e-C4. This combines a 50kWh battery with a 136PS electric motor driving the front wheels. In official tests, it can travel up to 217 miles on a charge (which compares favourably with rivals), while standard CCS rapid charging means a 100kW rapid charger can add 80% juice in around half an hour.
It's not a particularly quick car to drive, although its instant (and silent) acceleration will surprise anyone who's not driven an electric car before. It's peppy enough for town driving, but acceleration (and range) soon starts to tail off at motorway speeds. If you're looking to spend a lot of time on the open road, you'd be better looking at a Tesla. Or a PHEV.
Comfortable seats add to the Citroen e-C4's cosseting vibe, while the interior looks a bit smarter than you might expect from a Citroen. It's certainly not a premium interior, but there are some smart finishes. We like that the e-C4 uses actual physical knobs and buttons for operating the climate control – they're much more intuitive than the touch-sensitive pads used in the Volkswagen ID.3.
It's a spacious choice, particularly for those in the front, who'll enjoy a relatively high-up seating position and loads of storage areas. There's even a special tray to keep your iPad or Android tablet and somewhere to place your smartphone.
The Citroen e-C4's sloping roofline means it feels a bit more cramped in the back, but you can squeeze two adults in back without too much discomfort. The boot's usefully large, capable of lugging 380 litres of luggage – that's exactly the same as the petrol model's, meaning you won't sacrifice space by opting for the electric model.
And that pretty much sums up what the Citroen e-C4 does so well. Unlike some electric cars, it doesn't shout about its credentials, but neither is it a compromise, either. It represents very good value for money, while it feels like a petrol or diesel C4 to drive – albeit with the refinement advantages of an electric model.
If you're looking for the petrol and diesel version, you need our Citroen C4 (2021-) Review.
Is the 2022 Citroen e-C4 right for you?
The Citroen e-C4 is an electric car designed to suit buyers who are potentially torn between a conventional petrol or diesel car and an EV. It's an easy car to live with and as straightforward to use as an EV can be. The driving experience is acceptable rather than exciting, but unless that's a deal-breaker it's a sensible choice.
What’s the best Citroen e-C4 model/engine to choose?
The only engine choice in the Citroen C4 line-up is whether you want the petrol, diesel or electric version. If the electric e-C4 is the car for you, it's available exclusively with an 136PS electric motor combined with a 50kWh battery pack.
There are a number of trim levels to choose from: Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus. All are well-equipped (the Citroen e-C4 does without the basic Sense trim that's available on the standard car), with even the most affordable e-C4 featuring sat nav, 18-inch alloy wheels and Citroen's Safety Pack Plus. The top-of-the-range Shine Plus is worth stretching to – it still represents good value for money and features desirable kit including part-leather seats (heated in the front), a premium sound system and a wireless phone charger.
What other cars are similar to the Citroen e-C4?
It shares a platform, motor and battery pack with the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka-e and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense – so they should be on your radar, too. We'd also chuck the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric into the mix, as well as the new Mazda MX-30.
The e-C4 also rivals non-crossover alternatives; electric hatchbacks like the Volkswagen ID.3, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric. You might also be considering pricier alternatives like the Tesla Model 3 or Ford Mustang Mach-E.
You sit higher up than you would in a Nissan Leaf, which is a good thing for both comfort and a view of the road ahead. Adjustable lumbar support is standard on the driver's seat, while both front seats can be moved up or down depending on your preference. For electric seat adjustment, you'll need a top-spec Shine Plus model.
In terms of design, the Citroen e-C4 really doesn't feel that different to the standard C4. It's a very different approach to bespoke electric models like the Volkswagen ID.3, but some buyers prefer it that way. The only way you'll know that you're sitting in an EV is the toggle on the centre console, which lets you select 'drive' and set off – but even that could just be a gear selector from an automatic petrol or diesel car.
It's a very modern interior – much more grown-up than the old C4 Cactus – with lots of cool aluminium finishes and neat touches. We like the physical controls for the air conditioning – it's a much better (and safer) approach than burying them in the navigation system.
Quality and finish
The Citroen e-C4's cabin is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality and finish. While it looks pretty classy, some of the touchpoints don't feel quite as expensive as you might expect. In fairness, it's not a premium car (nor is it trying to be), but does the dashboard have to be quite so scratchy? There are some fairly harsh finishes lower down in the cabin, too, but they feel like they'll do a good job of deflecting years of family life.
It compares well compared to other electric cars, though. Even the Volkswagen ID.3 has some surprisingly flimsy materials in the cabin, while it's in another league to the ancient Nissan Leaf.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Citroen e-C4
The Citroen e-C4 comes with a 10-inch navigation system which, unusually for a modern electric car, doesn't try to be too clever in its operation. You even get a physical volume knob, which might look old school but is much better than having to root through menus to turn the volume down. There are a few physical shortcut buttons, too, although it stops short of having a rotary dial (like that in the Mazda MX-30) to make operation easier on the move.
There are slicker navigation systems on the market, although the graphics look smart enough and there isn't much of a lag between you touching the screen and it responding. If you want to mirror apps from your phone, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while wireless phone charging is standard on top-spec Shine Plus models.
Space and practicality: Citroen e-C4 boot space
The Citroen e-C4's dimensions make it 4360mm long and 1800mm wide, making it slightly larger than some small SUVs and about the size of a family hatchback. Packing a load of batteries into an electric car without affecting boot space is quite a challenge, but the Citroen e-C4's 380-litre luggage capacity is exactly the same as the standard C4. It's bigger than a Mazda MX-30 or Vauxhall Mokka-e's boot, while only marginally smaller than the Volkswagen ID.3's.
What does that mean in the real world? Well, the Citroen e-C4's boot has loads of space for your weekly shop, and should accommodate a family's weekend away luggage fairly easily, too. There's a height-adjustable boot floor, which means you can reduce the amount of boot lip for lifting items over, while there's space underneath for storing cables. This works well until you need to recharge with a full boot. If you need more space, the rear seats drop easily, leaving a fairly flat surface area.
Boot space aside, the Citroen e-C4 is a fairly roomy family car. Kids will be happy on the back, while headroom for adults is limited slightly by the e-C4's sloping roofline. There's loads of room in the front, helped by a generous amount of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel. All models come with a height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, while top-spec Shine Plus models feature electric seat adjustment.
One novelty that we like is the tablet tray in the dashboard. This gives you somewhere to store your iPad or Android tablet – with it pulled out, there's a mount so your passenger can watch Netflix (other streaming services are available...) on the move.
The Citroen e-C4 uses clever Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension. This has been used with mixed success in other Citroen models, but it certainly provides a comfortable ride in the e-C4. It helps, too, that all Citroen e-C4 models come with the same 18-inch alloy wheels, meaning the tyres are chunky enough to absorb lumps and bumps in the road.
A trade-off is the handling. It feels safe and reassuring, with loads of grip in bends, but it's not as agile as the rear-wheel-drive Volkswagen ID.3. You'll notice quite a lot of body lean during fast cornering, too. Not a problem for everyone, but you might want to slow down a bit if your passengers suffer from travel sickness.
Still, it's easy to drive, helped the high(ish) seating position giving you a good view of your surroundings. Things aren't quite so great when it comes to reversing – as with a lot of modern cars, rear visibility is pretty poor and it's not helped by the e-C4's rear spoiler splitting the rear screen. All e-C4 models come with a reversing camera, though, which comes in very handy when backing into a parking space.
The steering is usefully light, which adds to the Citroen e-C4's low-effort vibe (especially around town), but it's certainly not a sporty choice. For truly effortless motoring, we'd recommend flicking the drive toggle to 'B' mode, which ramps up the regenerative braking. This allows the car to slow down as soon as you lift off the accelerator (capturing energy in the process) meaning, with some careful driving, you'll rarely have to touch the brakes.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Citroen e-C4?
All Citroen e-C4 models use the same 136PS electric motor as the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka-e and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. If you've not driven an electric car before, you're in for a treat. All of its 260Nm of torque is available from the second you hit the accelerator pedal (no waiting for the revs to build or the automatic gearbox to drop down a gear) – so it feels very nippy from a standstill.
That's great around town as you can dart into gaps in the traffic or whizz between traffic lights. The power soon fades away when the speed builds, though, so it doesn't feel quite so punchy on the motorway. Its 0-62mph acceleration figure of 9.7 seconds is pretty mediocre for an electric car but it's comparable with a 1.0-litre petrol Ford Focus.
If you want an EV that's going to shove you back in your seat, we'd recommend the smaller Peugeot e-208 or pricier versions of the Volkswagen ID.3.
Maximum EV range in the Citroen e-C4
The Citroen e-C4 can officially travel for up to 217 miles between charges. This will be a chunk less in the real world, especially over winter when you've got the heating on high and your headlights on all day.
It compares fairly well against rivals – its platform-sharing relations (the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka-e and DS 3 Crossback T-Tense) will all travel shorter distances on a charge, while a mid-range Volkswagen ID.3 manages around 260 miles between top-ups. If you want to travel a long way without stopping, the Kia e-Niro can officially cover 282 miles on a charge, while the big-battery Hyundai Kona Electric provides 278 miles of range.
Refinement and noise levels
Replacing a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor has obvious benefits in terms of refinement. The e-C4 will accelerate in near-silence – a slightly odd sensation if you're not used to it, but one that'll soon have you wondering how you put up with a grumbling engine for so long.
Sometimes, the lack of engine noise in an electric car makes rattles more noticeable, as well as wind and road noise. The Citroen e-C4 is brilliantly subdued, though – it does a superb job of isolating you in the cabin.
Safety equipment: How safe is the Citroen e-C4?
The Citroen e-C4 comes with the Safety Pack Plus pack, featuring all the latest safety tech designed to prevent you from being in a crash in the first place, including Citroen's advanced Active Safety Brake 2.0. This uses video and radar assistance to detect a potential collision (including night-time and cyclist detection) and apply the brakes if required. Speed limit information is also provided, as well as traffic sign recognition. It will also alert the driver if it detects that you're not paying attention and nudge the steering if you stray from your lane.
Other standard safety kit includes a puncture repair kit (note: no spare wheel), Active Blind Spot Detection (on Shine and Shine Plus models) and Post-Collision Safety Brake (which applies the brakes after a crash to prevent further collisions).
The Citroen C4 was crash tested by Euro NCAP and received a four star safety rating, which isn't class-leading but still respectable.
Just like with filling up with petrol, you'll pay a premium for the fastest and most convenient public chargers. Expect to pay around 60p/kWh to top up at a motorway service station, meaning a 10-80% charge of the Citroen e-C4's 50kWh battery will cost you around £21 – it's worth doing the maths to see if that's cheaper than an equivalent petrol or diesel car.
Depending on your electricity tariff, a top-up at home will cost about £7.50, meaning you'll pay less than 4p per mile in 'fuel'. That's pittance.
If you haven't got an electric car charger at home, you can charge using a three-pin plug. This isn't ideal (so much so that it's an optional extra that Citroen will discourage you to buy), and it'll take around 24 hours to fully charge the e-C4.
How reliable is the Citroen e-C4?
The Citroen e-C4 is too new to have any clear indication of how reliable it will be, but there is the upside of an EV that it has fewer mechanical parts to go wrong compared to a conventional car.
Less reassuring is the performance of Citroen as a whole, coming 25th out of 30 manufacturers in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Survey. The hope is that as a newer vehicle the Citroen e-C4 will perform better than its stablemates.
Insurance groups and costs
The whole Citroen e-C4 range sits in either group 22 or group 23, so it's simply down to which version you choose - but you're unlikely to get a big premium difference whichever way you go.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Citroen e-C4?
As an electric car, you won't pay any road tax on the Citroen e-C4. That's a yearly saving of £165 compared to petrol and diesel models, while rivals with a list price of more than £40,000 are subject to an extra £355 in VED for the first five years.
The Citroen e-C4 starts from around £31,000, rising to just over £35,000 for a top-spec model. That's broadly in-line with the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e yet slightly cheaper than the Volkswagen ID.3.
Of course, you can save even more money by looking for a lightly-used example. It's still a very new car but it is starting to trickle down onto the used market, with ex-demonstrator models available for £28,000. A saving of £2000 isn't to be sniffed at on an in-demand electric car – especially as it allows you to skip the waiting list.
Trim levels and standard equipment
The Citroen e-C4 trim level line-up mimics that of the standard car, albeit without the entry-level Sense trim. That means the range kicks off with the Citroen e-C4 Sense Plus model, which features LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
On the inside, there's a 10-inch navigation system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), Citroen's fancy Advanced Comfort seats, a tablet computer holder and LED interior lighting. The electric model also comes with a 7.4kW single-phase onboard charger as standard, remote temperature pre-conditioning, a heated steering wheel and the SafetyPack Plus (with Active Safety Brake 2.0).
A Citroen e-C4 Shine model will build on this with dark tinted rear windows and keyless entry/start. It also gets extra driver-assistance tech, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Blind Spot Detection and Speed Limit Information.
Sitting at the top of the range, the Citroen e-C4 Shine Plus features a premium sound system and Hype Black interior ambiance. Part-leather seats are standard, as well as electric driver's seat adjustment and heated front seats. There's a wireless phone charger and four (count 'em) USB sockets. The e-C4 Shine also comes with Highway Driver Assist, which uses cameras to adjust the speed and direction of the car within its lane.
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