Citroen C4

We've already driven the five-door, and now Auto Express has sampled the three-door version of Citroen's promising new C4. The Coupe, which is radically different from the hatch, goes on sale later this month and the range is expected to start at less than £13,000.

The three-door Coupe is yet another impressive addition to Citroen's exciting C4 range, and shows exactly how free-thinking and radical the manufacturer is becoming. We can't wait to try out the new car on UK roads to see how it measures up against its competitors.

We've already driven the five-door, and now Auto Express has sampled the three-door version of Citroen's promising new C4. The Coupe, which is radically different from the hatch, goes on sale later this month and the range is expected to start at less than £13,000.

For that, you get one of the most adventurous looking cars on the road, with its distinctive kicked-up rear and integrated boot spoiler. As well as looking good, the Coupe confirms exactly what we said about the C4 when we drove the five-door in Issue 830. This is, quite simply, the best Citroen in years.

The newcomer exudes such quality that it outclasses the firm's already decent offerings such as the C2 and C3. Unlike its Xsara predecessor, the C4 has a really well finished cabin, full of soft-touch plastics and high-grade materials. It also has a lot of flair, with a design that's unique to this market sector.

The driving position is superb, and there's plenty of space for front passengers. However, rear headroom is limited due to the low, curving roofline. Visibility all-round is excellent, aided by the optional full-length glass roof fitted to our car. On the road, the 1.6-litre petrol engine is lively. The 16v unit is carried over from the old Xsara and is economical and fairly refined, although it tends to sound coarse at high revs.

Dynamically, the Coupe is as agile as the five-door, with composed handling and impressive body control. The most notable improvements are to the steering, which is much more precise than on previous Citroens and feels well weighted. It's light at parking speeds, but positive and stable while cruising.

The brakes are incredibly effective, too. But whereas the French firm's previous offerings seemed snatchy and over sensitive, the C4's pedal action is smooth and progressive, with much more feel. Also significantly improved is the car's gearbox. Instead of the vague, rubbery shift found in many French machines, the Citroen has a smooth, precise change that's among the best in the compact family sector.

Make no mistake, the C4 is one of the best in its class. It might not have the volume appeal of some rivals, but if you look beyond cheap and cheerful Citroens of old, it offers a fine mix of quality, driver appeal and dramatic styling.

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