CITROEN has just launched its all-new next generation C4 family hatchback and this time there is the added choice of an all-electric version that joins the more traditional petrol and diesel variants.
With its raised ride height you could be forgiven for describing the C4 as a crossover vehicle, but with the likes of the VW ID.3 and Nissan Leaf in its sights, Citroen hopes the new electric C4 will impress potential buyers with its sporty hatchback design, wealth of on-board technology, practical dimensions and driving range of 217 miles between charges.
The five-door e-C4 is powered by a 50kWh battery driving a 136hp electric motor and it can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, topping out at 93mph. Charging from a 7kW home wallbox takes 7 hours and 30 minutes, but an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes if using a rapid charger.
Although there are strong comparisons, technology-wise at least, with stablemates the DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE and the Peugeot e-2008, the Citroen e-C4, which costs from £30,395 and is available in three trim levels, certainly has plenty of character of its own.
It looks modern, stylish, robust and athletic when viewed from any angle. Design cues include the new v-shaped light signature with LED headlights plus chrome chevrons spanning the width of the car. There is a sloping rear window, spoiler, distinctive rear light clusters and smart 18-inch alloys to complete the look.
We tried the range-topping Shine Plus e-C4 priced at Â£32,545 which included the Government's plug in car grant of Â£3,000. A few optional extras saw the final cost creep up to Â£33,090. Although it is more expensive than the ICE models, the running costs will be far lower especially with the zero carbon emissions figure bringing many tax incentives.
Move inside and the interior is beautifully modern and packed with the latest technology. There is a 10-inch high resolution touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and audio streaming, a DAB digital radio with six speakers, TomTom sat nav system, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, a heated steering wheel, a reversing camera, plus electrically-adjustable leather and textile seats that can be heated.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the slightly elevated seating position and all the controls, dials and readouts are simple to operate on the fly.
The touchscreen features sharp graphics and the menus are user-friendly with separate controls to operate the climate system.
When it comes to performance, the e-C4 certainly lives up to all the hype. It starts up in absolute silence and the pull-away power is instant and impressive. There is a Brake feature that increases the energy regenerated through braking which means single pedal driving is possible in stop/start city centre driving.
Out on the open road, there is plenty of acceleration through the single speed automatic transmission. The road holding is assured and body sway is kept to a minimum.
There are drive modes called Eco, Normal and Power that allow the driver to choose between performance and more economical driving and special mention to the excellent suspension system that does a worthy job of maximising comfort levels for all occupants.
In fact, comfort is an area Citroen prides itself on and the latest C4 is a great example of that with the brand's innovative suspension system featuring Progressive Hydraulic Cushions which helps smooth out the roughest surfaces.
My only slight gripe was the fairly light steering which is ideal in busier town centre settings, but a little more weight would be nice when firing through the faster B roads and country lanes.
For peace of mind, the battery on the e-C4 comes with a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles for 70 per cent of charge capacity.
In addition to the EV there are four petrol and two diesel-powered C4 models with prices starting from £21,005.
There's a choice of four trim levels called Sense, Sense Plus, Shine and Shine Plus. Entry-level Sense trim is not available on the e-C4.
We also had a spin in the C4 PureTech 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol model with eight-speed automatic transmission. This model could complete the 0-62mph dash in 9.4 seconds and maxed out at 130mph while delivering a combined 44.7-50.3mpg with carbon emissions of 131g/km.
The car, costing £26,605 (£27,355 with options) also impressed on the road. Drive it back-to-back with the e-C4 and it seems really noisy by comparison. But, in reality, the petrol engine is beautifully refined.
The acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive and once again, the car was happy powering through lanes or pottering through the crowded villages and towns along the way. Steering wheel-mounted paddles offer added driver engagement.
When it comes to practicality, all models have a boot that can swallow 380 litres of kit - a limit that increases to 1,250 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there are lots of handy storage spaces throughout the car too, including a large glovebox, a practically-sized central cubby area, cup holders, door bins, pockets in the seat backs and some handy trays.
There is a retractable system designed to hold a tablet computer which is a first for Citroen.
The new Citroen C4 is the first family segment car from parent company Stellantis to be offered with petrol, diesel or 100 per cent electric powertrains so customers have the maximum choice without any compromise on design, performance or practicality.