Citroen C4

It hardly seems fair! Citroen's stylish three-door C4 grabs all the attention, yet the five-door is expected to do the hard work and become the top seller. We have covered the coup� from every angle recently. Now it's time to tell the story of the impressive hatch.

The Citroen C4 has various features which distinguish it from many of its rivals, yet it is competitive in a number of key areas. It's a practical yet stylish vehicle that has proved a capable motorway cruiser. And while it may not be as nimble as some more mainstream competitors, keen pricing means this car is a refreshing alternative.

It hardly seems fair! Citroen's stylish three-door C4 grabs all the attention, yet the five-door is expected to do the hard work and become the top seller. We have covered the coup� from every angle recently. Now it's time to tell the story of the impressive hatch.

Practicality is vital in this sector, and the C4 hasn't overlooked it. The family oriented machine aims to steal sales from established contenders including Ford's Focus and VW's Golf. But despite sporting an extra pair of doors and a more conventional rear, the hatch is still the most daring machine in its class. It's distinguished by unusual tail-lights and a curved roofline, yet is not too radical.

At the front, the bold double chevron links it with its coup� sister, as do clever details such as the side indicators on the door mirror posts. The five-door also has a very aerodynamic shape for low wind noise and good economy.

Inside, the hatch continues to impress. Large windows and a low waistline give a roomy feel, backed up by plenty of space. Rear passengers can sit comfortably behind tall occupants, and headroom is generous all-round. Boot capacity equals the coup�'s at 320 litres.

A good layout and quality materials make the cabin pleasant and comfortable to sit in. Novel touches such as the much-vaunted fixed-hub steering wheel and see-through digital display are useful, although drivers with a small- er reach may have to take a hand off the wheel to operate the hub controls.

On the road, our test car's 1.6-litre petrol motor felt on a par with rivals. With a full load of passengers and luggage it may struggle a little, but in most circumstances it remains smooth and relatively quiet, helped by the well insulated cabin. The five-speed gearbox is well matched to the engine, making light work of motorway cruising.

Above all, the C4 is comfortable in most conditions. It deals with urban potholes and coarse M-way surfaces with ease, and it is relaxing to travel in. While enthusiastic drivers may ultimately find a Focus or Golf more satisfying, the Citroen is tidy and controllable at speed.

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