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Car group tests

New Citroen C4 vs Volkswagen Golf

Citroen’s new C4 aims to make waves in the compact family car class. We see if it can sink VW’s capable Golf.

Citroen C4 vs Volkswagen Golf

Citroen has rediscovered its flair, with its cheeky and capable DS3 supermini beating the best in a series of Auto Express group tests. Now, top brass want to pull off the same trick in the compact family car sector with the all-new C4.

Gone is the quirky look of the previous model, in favour of more grown-up styling. The C4 also promises strong practicality, as it features a spacious cabin and one of the class’s largest load bays, while on the road, the emphasis is on refinement. As before, there is a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, plus the EGS semi-automatic box. We test the punchy 2.0-litre HDi oil-burner in flagship Exclusive spec.

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Pitched against the new C4 is our undisputed champ in this sector: the Volkswagen Golf. The legendary hatch is now in its sixth generation, and it still sets the benchmark. So, can Citroen continue its winning ways, or will VW put an end to this French renaissance?

Verdict

We knew the VW Golf was a class act coming into this test – and the new C4 only highlights the depths of its talent. On the surface, the Citroen has a lot going for it, as it’s spacious, solidly built and, in range-topping Exclusive trim, very well equipped. It’s also refined and delivers a surprising turn of speed. The trouble is, we can’t help feeling the car is a bit of a missed opportunity for 

the company. The styling is anonymous, while the lacklustre driving dynamics leave it lagging behind the class leaders. As a result, the Golf maintains its grip on the compact family sector. There are few, if any, significant flaws in the package, and Match trim shows it in a positive light. The VW is well equipped, good value for money, highly desirable and great to drive. It will take something special to knock it off top spot.

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