Citroen C4 1.6 VTR+

Can the five-door justify its greater ownership costs, while striking looks ensure three-door stands out from the crowd.

The Citroen C4 has a split personality. Choose the five-door, and you get a neatly styled family hatchback. But opt for the three-door, which Citroen insists on calling the Coupé, and you end up with a sleek machine that features a strikingly different rear.

Its vertical back window could have been inspired by the original Honda CR-X, and it gives the sportier C4 a personality that’s far removed from its practical stablemate.

Despite their chalk-and-cheese styling differences, Citroen has chosen to charge exactly the same price for both variants. So a 1.6-litre VTR+ model will set you back £15,495, irrespective of the number of doors you need.

That instantly levels the playing field when it comes to choosing which variant to buy, although the three-door enjoys a slightly stronger residual value. It will retain 26.0 per cent of its list price after three years and 30,000 miles, compared to 25.3 per cent for the five-door.

As a result, the Coupé will be worth £153 more than its family friendly stablemate when the time comes to sell. This is repeated across the entire C4 range, although the difference is even more pronounced if you go for the 1.6 HDi diesel in VTR+ guise. The Coupé has a residual of 30.0 per cent, against 28.8 per cent for the five-door.

While this is hardly likely to offset the discomfort of having to squeeze between the folding front seat and B-pillar when climbing into the back for family buyers, it will be all the incentive some customers would need to choose the sportier model.

Of course, there are other compromises associated with the less practical variant. Unlike the other cars in this test, the Coupé has less rear legroom than the already cramped five-door, and its boot is six litres smaller, too.

But it’s not all bad news, because the three-door comes with slim C-pillars and large side windows. These combine to provide much better over-the-shoulder visibility thanin the five-door.

Both cars feature the traditional C4 hallmarks of a fixed-hub steering wheel and a centre-mounted digital display for the instruments. Buyers can also now specify the latest generation of the company’s NaviDrive system, complete with a 30GB hard disc and USB audio connection.

On the road, all C4s come with the French firm’s trademark ride comfort, which makes for smooth progress over uneven surfaces.

But the latest revisions don’t go far enough to lift the car into the top tier of family hatchbacks. You can now specify the powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is shared with MINI and Peugeot, while the revised looks have been designed to bring it in line with Citroen’s larger C5. However, the C4 is let down by an interior which is simply too cramped to compete at the highest level.

As that’s the case, if you are planning to choose the Citroen over its opponents, you might as well go the whole hog and take the sleek-looking Coupé. Not only does it make a bigger statement, it’s guaranteed to turn more heads, too.

Details

Price: £15,495WHY: 3dr - Facelifted Citroen hatch offers more space than three-door variant.5dr - Do the C4 Coupé’s rakish looks demand too many compromises in usability?

Environment

Both variants have the same CO2 emissions. They fall between their rivals here in terms of eco credentials.

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