Citroen C4

2 Jan, 2007 (All day) Graham Hope
Good driving position, superb high-speed refinement, attractive styling, adequate practicality, excellent economy
Cheap feel, jamming glovebox, chunky central digital speedo, awkward fixed-hub steering wheel

Steamed up! That's how I am feeling about Auto Express's long-term C4

Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing seriously amiss with our garish gold Citroen. But recent months have highlighted an irritating trait of RV06 EEX which I, quite literally, cannot see past when asked to give my verdict on the car.

The problem? Misting. Simply put, unless the air-conditioning system is constantly switched on, the French hatchback's windscreen and windows quickly become irritatingly cloudy.

And that in itself throws up two further issues. Firstly, driving around with the air-con turned on obviously adversely affects the fuel economy. As I've mentioned in previous reports, I'm extremely impressed with the 44.2mpg the Citroen has returned over the past nine months. However, our road testers estimate that with the set-up off, I might have topped the magic 50mpg mark.

Secondly, it's prompted no end of arguments between myself and Mrs Hope. If the air-con goes on, the temperature has to be pretty high to keep her happy, while I prefer things a little cooler.

This small issue aside, the C4 has continued to impress. A 1,000-mile round trip to Scotland showed the Citroen to be a decent motorway cruiser, with the excellent driving position and comfortable seat a real boon for a six-footer such as myself. Normally, the eight-hour journey to visit family just south of Aberdeen leaves me feeling shattered. But as the C4 is such an easy, relaxing car to pilot, that wasn't the case this time.

And practicality-wise, the Citroen has excelled, too. More recently, the folding rear seats ensured that taking a coat stand home from the furniture store was a cinch. I just wish it was as easy to put the 'self-assembly' stand together! Niggles? Well, apart from the misting mystery, there are a couple of other gripes. On three occasions in recent weeks, an alert has sounded and dash light illuminated to warn me that my front-seat passenger is not wearing a belt... even though no one is sitting there. Spooky! Opening and shutting the passenger door seems to sort this - until the next time.

I've also complained about the central digital speedo in the past, as it can be a little distracting for the driver. It's since been pointed out to me that from the outside the read-out is pretty similar to the orange sign you see on vacant taxis. It's not a look that any car should aspire to in my book. Still, at least if the screen is steamed up, no one will be able to see in and mistake me for a cabbie...

Second opinion
I'm much more of a fan of the C4 coupé than the five-door - our model doesn't quite have the 'je ne sais quoi' that the French firm put into the styling of its three-door version. However, as with Graham, I do appreciate this car's brilliant economy and practicality. A trip to the Forest of Dean, Glos, from London hardly affected the fuel gauge, and the boot - while not big by class standards - was big enough for my needs. Gary Lord, production editor

Key specs

  • On fleet since: March 2006
  • Price when new: £15,240
  • Running costs: 36.2ppm
  • Mileage: 7,642/44.2mpg
  • Engine / Power: 1.6 litre
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 5/£275
  • Any problems?: Irritating fogging in cabin, random seatbelt alert warnings
  • Equipment: None