New Citroen e-C4 54kWh review
An upgraded powertrain puts the balance between performance and range in the hands of Citroen e-C4 drivers
The 54kWh battery, improved electric motor and standard-fit heat pump make the updated e-C4 worth considering over the original version. Those after increased range, and greater consistency in its delivery all the year round, will be better served than those wanting punchier performance. But the gains should still be sufficient to keep the e-C4 in the mix for those after a compact family EV. Let’s hope Citroen rolls it down to more affordable trim levels in its new-look line-up.
We like the Citroen C4 and e-C4 at Auto Express – and you appear to agree, having voted it top dog in our 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. But things move fast in the pure-electric market, so Citroen has taken advantage of a new, EV powertrain within its parent Stellantis group to beef up the e-C4’s credentials.
Specifically, the new version of this funky crossover – Citroen’s slightly left-field take on family transport – mixes a 154bhp electric motor with a larger 54kWh battery that’s the same size physically as the old 50kWh unit but has greater energy density. Citroen claims that even with more power than the old 134bhp motor, the new specification increases the potential range of the e-C4 to up to 261 miles, a gain of 17 per cent. It gets the same rapid charging rate too, at 100kW, so you can get from 20 to 80 per cent of battery capacity in under half an hour.
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In an unusual move, the new version is being introduced in addition to the original spec, instead of replacing it; Citroen believes that some customers will be happy to sacrifice 40-odd miles of range to save a few quid on monthly payments.
On the road, it’s genuinely hard to feel the difference between the old e-C4 and the new one – but that’s down to calibration that some might call clever, others sneaky. In normal mode the car runs with pretty much the same power output as before, presumably making use of the extra battery capacity and the new motor’s slightly better efficiency to deliver the improvement in official range.
But if you want the system’s promised extra 20bhp, you’ll need to reach down between the front seats and flick the e-C4 into its Sport mode. This brings noticeably more punchy throttle response, even when you’re doing 60mph – but, of course, you’ll be paying a price for this extra pace because you’re predicted range takes a hit every time you use it.
It’s almost as if Citroen has put the trade-off into the hands of the owner, allowing them a choice of more range or greater performance – but never both at the same time. At least it doesn’t feel particularly slow in normal mode in all but motorway situations, and there are other benefits that come with the new powertrain – not least the standard fitment of a heat pump, which should make it more likely to stay close to its claimed range in cooler winter conditions.
The rest of the e-C4 package remains easy to recommend. It sits on the smallest of the Stellantis Group platforms yet still manages to ride better than many larger Citroens, including the C5 Aircross, with decent compliancy over pock-marked roads and suppleness over speed bumps. Larger, sharper inputs can expose the limits of Citroen’s ‘hydraulic cushions’, a glorified name for bump stops, and there’s a fair amount of body roll if you throw it at a corner. But adapt to this, and the light steering, and the overall ability to shield you from the worst of what’s below you actually allows you to press on in a surprisingly wide range of situations. You might even enjoy it.
The onboard tech is decent too, since the e-C4 features the improved digital instrument panel and central infotainment system that made its debut in the C5 X. The crisp display is matched by a responsive processor, and while the interface isn’t perfect, it’s definitely a match for anything you’ll find in, say, a VW Group rival.
Citroen is in the process of overhauling the line-up and specs across its entire range, so it’s actually unclear if anyone will be able to take delivery of a new-spec e-C4 in one of the older trim levels. However, it’s being introduced on the top trim level only for now, which means a fairly hefty price of £37,195 (more than £5k more than the entry-level version with the smaller battery). Still, at least that means you get plenty of kit, with 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a head-up display, heating on the steering wheel and front seats, the 10-inch infotainment system, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera all included.
|Model:||Citroen e-C4 c-series 54kWh|
|Powertrain:||54kWh battery, 1x e-motor|
|Transmission:||Single-speed auto, front-wheel drive|
|Charging:||100kW (20-80% in <30min)|