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Citroen e-C4 X Shine Plus 2023 review

The Citroen e-C4 X is more practical than the likeable e-C4 hatchback, but not everyone will be convinced by the bodystyle

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

We have our doubts whether many will see the benefit in the saloon-shaped body style, but at an identical price to the e-C4 hatchback alternative, the Citroen e-C4 X won’t cost you if you take the plunge. What you’re left with is a car that is comfortable and relaxing to drive, and, for the money, offers decent electric range. 

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Citroen’s e-C4 X reintroduces a niche to the mainstream UK market, but one that never quite found favour with buyers. 

The niche in question is nothing to do with the fact that this newcomer is all electric, or that Citroen claims its chunky wheelarch cladding offers SUV style yet keeps a fairly modest 1.5-metre roof height. Instead, it’s down to the rear end; the e-C4 X is a saloon. 

While four doors are hugely popular sellers among the premium brands, the layout has never quite found favour in smaller family saloon cars. The likes of the Ford Focus, Renault Megane and the Mazda 3 have all been offered in saloon styles in the past, but the five-door hatchback body style always vastly outsold them. Citroen still offers that choice, too – from the b-pillar forwards, the X is identical to the existing e-C4 – so what’s the benefit of the new model?

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From a cosmetic point of view, some buyers might prefer the more conventional look of the X. Where the hatchback gets a quirky, two-tier rear screen with a complex tail-light arrangement, the saloon gets a much cleaner rump. Viewed from the side, the three-box shape is neatly proportioned, adding a bit of elegance to the Citroen line-up. 

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But styling is subjective and what really matters is the numbers. That new fastback shape means the e-C4 X is 4,600mm long – that’s 240mm more than the hatch. The pair share an identical wheelbase, which means that all of that extra metalwork is behind the rear axle. The result is a big increase in boot space. At 510 litres, the X gains 130 litres of volume over the standard e-C4

The load bay is a fairly regular shape, and there’s an extra cubby under the floor to hold the charging cable. The rear seats can fold (they leave quite a pronounced step) which means that it’s possible to load longer items into a volume that expands to 1,360 litres. 

The issue is the opening itself. Without the rear window forming a portion of the opening section, the tailgate is appreciably smaller here. While it’s fine for suitcases and shopping bags, it means you’ll be compromised on those occasions when you want to move something bulkier. 

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The boot lid itself has a high line, and that is noticeable on the road. Look in the rear view mirror, and there’s not much to see because the rear glass is slim, and its position means that you see more sky than road.

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The rest of the driving experience is very similar to the standard Citroen C4 X. It’s a car that’s set up for comfort rather than fun, with soft dampers soaking up bumps capably while cruising. Even on some of the rough, pockmarked roads of our Worcestershire/Herefordshire test route, only the slightest bit of fidget was present at low speeds.

The trade-off is that it isn’t that exciting to drive. It’s stable and it goes around corners without any drama, and the steering isn’t the quickest or the most precise, but it does the job. For most buyers, it’s fine.

The e-C4 X doesn’t offer a mindblowing power level as with some EV saloons. The motor and battery tech is shared with a range of other EVs from the Peugeot/Citroen/Vauxhall side of the Stellantis Group, which means there’s 134bhp and 260Nm available for a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds. 

The throttle response is slightly keener in Sport mode (we felt this setting worked best, as otherwise the e-C4 X felt a little lazy moving off from a standstill), but regardless of the drive mode, the performance is more than adequate for daily use and the car is easy to drive smoothly. Refinement is great too, with a gentle hum of road noise the most obvious sound that enters the cabin.

Citroen claims the e-C4 X is capable of up to 222 miles of range, three miles more than the e-C4 hatchback. Our test, at roughly five degrees celsius, suggested a range of just over 200 miles when fully charged, and we averaged 4.0mi/kWh on a route which was admittedly a little favourable for economical driving. What is clear is that subtle improvements to this powertrain since we first experienced it in cars such as the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa Electric have improved its efficiency at high speed, so the range won’t take such a dramatic hit on motorways. Thanks to 100kW charging, it’s possible to add 59 miles of range in 10 minutes, while a 10-80 per cent top-up is completed in half an hour.

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Inside, the e-C4 X gets the same dashboard arrangement as the standard C4. The appearance is smart enough and there’s loads of storage (16 cubbies in total), while the infotainment system isn’t quite the sharpest or most intuitive to use in the class. On the plus side, the chunky knobs and switches for the climate controls are easy to work on the move.

Further back, legroom is excellent, though headroom feels a touch more claustrophobic than in the hatchback. 

Prices for the e-C4 X are identical to those of the standard hatch though, which means the first of three trim levels – Sense – costs from £31,995, with the top spec Shine Plus climbing to £35,495. Predicted residual values suggest that the X will depreciate slower than the regular e-C4, too.

While there’s no four-door alternative that competes directly with the e-C4 X, that price is competitive with other EVs. The new Ora Funky Cat is the same price as the Sense model yet has a much shorter range and a tiny boot. The soon-to-be-replaced Hyundai Kona Electric is similarly priced with a smaller battery, or several grand more expensive if you want to go further than the Citroen. The main hurdle for Citroen, and any other EV challenger, is the MG4; while its boot is a little smaller and not quite as comfortable, it’s as spacious inside, quicker, more fun to drive, yet for a similar range to the Citroen it starts from just £26,995.

Model:Citroen e-C4 X Shine Plus
Price: £35,495
Powertrain: 50kWh battery/e-motor
Power/torque: 134bhp/260Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 93 mph
Range: 222 miles
Charging: 100kW (10-80% in 30 mins)
On sale: Now
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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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