Diesel does nicely

in new Citroen C4

Citroen C4, 2021, front
Citroen C4, 2021, side
Citroen C4, 2021, rear
Citroen C4, 2021, interior
Citroen C4, 2021, centre console, controls
Citroen C4, 2021, tablet holder
Citroen C4, 2021, tablet holder tray
Citroen C4, 2021, display screen
Citroen C4, 2021, boot

DIESEL cars face a tough future but for Citroen they remain a key component of its line up as the French brand goes about releasing its new C4 medium-sized hatchback.

To cover all bases, Citroen is making the latest C4 available with three powertrains - petrol, diesel and electric.

And while diesel engines are expected to make up only 17 per cent of sales for the newcomer - as opposed to more than 70 per cent with the previous model - they remain a ‘go-to' choice for many.

For those who need to cover long distances and haven't the time to recharge for around 45 minutes every 200 miles or so, diesel cars remain the most cost effective way of travelling.

So, for £22,740 Citroen will be starting off its new C4 diesel offering with a BlueHDi manual variant developing 110ps.

That car will cost £1,750 more than the entry-level petrol model when it arrives in a couple of months - but it's £6,440 less than the cheapest all-electric version and that's after the Government grant for low emission cars.

At the moment, the cheapest C4 diesel comes with a more powerful 130bhp version of the 1.5-litre BlueHDi engine mated to an eight-speed auto box and costs from £26,040 - still some £3,000 below the zero emission e-C4.

We have just tried the new C4 in top specification Shine Plus trim and that's a car that tips the scales from £28,255. Compared to the electric version in similar trim that's a £4,290 saving after the £3,000 grant.

Yes, the diesel costs more to run than the EV version - with diesel at around £1.25 a litre it costs £62.50 to fill compared to £6.50 for a full recharge of the e-C4 - but that gives a real world range of more than 700 miles on a full tank.

In the electric version you would have to recharge four times to achieve that and the quickest you can top up the e-C4's batteries to 80 per cent is 30 minutes from a rapid charger.

Compared to similar petrol versions of the C4 you could expect around 550 miles from a full tank and that would be at a cost of some £60 at current prices.

So diesel still has a place and Citroen's latest four cylinder engine is a very credible performer.

Not only did we manage to exceed the official best fuel consumption figure of 64.5mpg - we saw an average of 65.8mpg on the trip computer - but the car as a whole is breath of fresh air.

The C4 is innovative, technologically advanced and has Citroen's advanced comfort set up across the entire range which really does help contain driver fatigue.

Touches that are special to the car include a foldaway tablet holder on the front passenger side of the dash which is available on all but the entry-level car, a 10-inch touchscreen, full smartphone compatibility, a head up display and a host of driver aids including an advanced lane keeping system.

On the top range model we sampled that lane keeping system formed part of a semi-autonomous drive mode that adjusts the car's speed and steering automatically. It works - even in traffic.

Noise insulation is first class and the car feels very refined as well as being roomy front and rear. Boot space is 380 litres extending to a maximum of 1,250 with the rear seats folded.

Performance for the automatic is 0 to 60mph acceleration in 9.5 seconds and a maximum of 128mph and that compares well with its petrol counterpart.

Emissions on the diesel automatic are rated at 120g/km at best and - credit to Citroen - that is the same as CO2 output on the manual petrol engine in the range.

It's a good looking car with modern design tweaks all round and a flashback to earlier C4 models comes with a spoiler across the rear window which becomes an obvious feature through the rearview mirror.

Gear selection is done via a toggle switch on the centre console and there are three drive modes to go at with settings for eco and sport as well as an everyday configuration.

All models have an electronic parking brake but there is no auto-hold function which is probably the only feature it is lacking.

While Citroen has been clever in making the C4 a car for all circumstances and needs - and the electric version is one of the best EVs on the market - the very fact it is prepared to stick with ‘doomed diesel' shows an understanding of modern motoring that is sadly lacking among rivals in their rush towards electrification.

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