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More substance, less style for Citroen's next C4

French five-door: Citroen's 2011 C4 is bigger yet not bulkier, but far less bold.

Citroen’s all-new small car emerges sans the current C4’s slick styling

1 Jun 2010

CITROEN’S next-generation C4 has surfaced well ahead of its world public debut at the Paris motor show in September and its appearance in Australian showrooms in about 12 months.

Larger and less flambouyant than the current five-door hatchback, let alone the edgy (and now discontinued) C4 three-door, Citroen’s redesigned small car is 50mm longer at 4330mm overall, as well as 20mm wider at 1790mm and 30mm higher at 1490mm.

Citroen makes much of the space, quality and sound-proofing of the all-new C4’s more driver-focussed cabin and the practicality of its square 408-litre boot, which is claimed to be the biggest in the global C-segment hatch class.

Naturally, the next C4 comes loaded with an armoury of top-end equipment, including a new blind-spot monitoring system, a cornering light function, massaging front seats and a cruise control and speed-limiter device with road speed memory settings.

First images of the new C4 interior show a contemporary new dashboard design with dominant central screen, three large laptop-style digital instrument gauges and heavily bolstered front sports seats in white stitched and perforated leather.

The steering wheel retains an array of controls, but it's difficult to tell whether Citroen has retained the current C4’s trademark fixed-hub design.

33 center imageAccording to Citroen, however, owners of the more spacious new C4 will also be able to “adjust the colour of the driver’s instrument display, select their own polyphonic sound alerts, finely adjust the intensity of the air-conditioning and even immerse themselves in the rich surround-sound of the new audio system”.

This is on top of existing Citroen technologies borrowed from the C5, including hill start assist, an automatic electric parking brake, lane departure warning system and Xenon dual-function directional headlights, plus the French maker’s automatic transmission substitute, the Electronic Gearbox System (EGS).

Then there is Citroen’s new ‘green driving’ service, eTouch, which is said to provide on-board emergency assistance, technical and service status information and the ability to monitor driving styles and fuel consumption and receive ‘cleaner’ driving advice.

Citroen’s global product chief Vincent Besson was reported to have told Autocar at last year’s Frankfurt show the 2011 C4 would be lighter and more efficient than its predecessor, and would eventually become available with three-cylinder and, possibly, hybrid power.

The company has now confirmed that its “environmentally respectful family car” will be available with Citroen’s new ‘micro-hybrid e-HDi’ powertrains, which incorporate an idle-stop system to help reduce average CO2 emissions to 109g/km – “and 99g/km on future models”.

The latter is expected to employ a diesel-electric drivetrain similar to the 'Hybrid4' all-wheel drive system that will debut in sister company Peugeot's 3008, before being fitted to the DS4 and other Citroens from late 2011.

Citroen says that despite increased dimensions and extra equipment “the control of the car’s overall weight” was achieved via new technologies such as laser welding, while ‘green’ materials like recycled polyamide components account for 15 per cent of the car’s construction, further enhancing the environmental credentials of the C4, which will also run on Michelin Energy Saver tyres.

Just as the French brand’s all-new light-sized C3 five-door has spawned the more upmarket DS3 three-door, both of which will go on sale here by September, so too will the redesigned C4 five-door form the basis of the more luxurious DS4.

The second DS model to appear was previewed by the DS High Rider concept at the Geneva motor show in March and is expected to morph into a compact crossover, this time to rival the likes of Mini’s forthcoming Countryman SUV.

Also due to emerge in 2011 after the DS4 is the DS5. Based on Citroen’s existing C5 mid-sizer, which was released here in 2008, the DS5 will follow this year’s DS3 as the third model to revive Citroen’s hallowed DS nameplate.

Sales of the original C4, which replaced the long-forgotten Xsara here in April 2005, are 16 per cent down so far this year compared with 2009, when C4 sales bombed by 57 per cent to a total of 1149 in 2008, when the GFC struck.

That was down from more than 1500 in 2006 and 2007, when the first C4 was easily Citroen’s local top-seller, comprising almost half of all local sales.

Its successor will continue to be built at the Mulhouse PSA Peugeot Citroen plant in France, before going on sale in Australia and New Zealand in mid-2011.

Before then, Citroen Australia will launch the all-new C3 here this Sepetmber, followed by the DS3 in October.

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