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Citroen C4 Shine launched as high-end quasi-SUV hatch

BRIDGING THE GAP: With a design that bridges the gap between regular hatch and high-riding SUV, the C4 will appeal between a multitude of demographics.

Stylish new SUV entrant arrives to give Citroen a much-needed shot in the arm


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18 Nov 2021

CITROEN’s reborn C4 has gone on sale in Australia wearing a sticker price of $37,990 and positioned as a single-specification, high-grade SUV-slash-hatchback. 


Joining the existing C3 small hatch and C5 Aircross medium SUV, the C4 expands the French automaker’s local line-up to three models and slots into the mainstream small SUV segment.


It’s the first time the C4 nameplate appears on a high-riding SUV, with previous iterations of the badge being applied to three- and five-door hatches, four-door sedans, and even an MPV. 


That said, Citroen’s local office insists that though the new C4 Shine dwells within the small SUV VFACTS category, its arching roofline and shallowly-raked rear hatch glass – which eschews a traditional wagon-style SUV profile – allowing it to appeal to both SUV and hatchback buyers in equal measure.


That fastback silhouette also handily gives the C4 some separation from its corporate cousin, the Peugeot 2008, which is built on the same EMP platform as the C4 and utilises common hardware such as the Puretech 155 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine and its eight-speed automatic, but features a more traditional SUV bodystyle.


While starting a few grand higher than that other fastbacked crossover from France, the Renault Arkana (from $33,990 in base Intens grade), the C4 Shine actually lines up nicely with the mid-spec Arkana Intens, which retails for just $500 less than its Citroen rival.


Outside of the Arkana, line-ball rivals are thin on the ground for the C4. While coupe-style fastback SUVs have proliferated among premium brands, it’s a bodystyle that – besides the Toyota C-HR – hasn’t penetrated the mainstream realm much until this year. 


The C-HR’s strong showing in sales figures does indicate that the buying public isn’t allergic to such an unconventional form factor, however, and while the C4’s starting price is elevated versus other small SUV options from Asia and Europe, the C4’s design stands out from the crowd and helps justify its impost. 


And when compared to the C-HR’s closest analogue, the $35,165 Koba 2WD petrol, the C4 Shine is fairly competitive. Though retailing for $2825 more than the Koba, the C4 Shine packs more standard equipment, a bigger cabin, 29kW more power, 55Nm more torque and better fuel efficiency than its Japanese rival.


It also offers plenty of equipment for your spend. Feature highlights in the C4 Shine include a colour head-up display, a 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, baked-in satellite navigation and digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired only), heated front seats with massage function for the driver, dual-zone climate control, a self-dimming rear view mirror, LED headlights with auto high-beam, ambient cabin lighting and a 5.5-inch digital instrument panel display.


Practical cabin features haven’t been forgotten either, with Citroen eager to tout the C4’s impressive count of 16 cargo compartments, including a dual-level centre console tray, and a retractable shelf on the passenger side of the dashboard, which can securely hold a regular sized tablet while the car is in motion (without giving the driver a view) and doesn’t interfere with airbag deployment.


The only significant factory options are a glass panoramic sunroof, and a larger tablet holder that can accommodated a 10.5-inch Samsung Galaxy tablet or Apple iPad Air 2.


Seat comfort is claimed to be another C4 strong suit, with Citroen utilising a mixture of high- and low-density foam cushioning to provide both support and comfort, while the rear cabin dimensions give those in the back up to 1440mm of elbow-room and 198mm of knee-room. 


The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable in four directions, however, only slides fore and aft manually.


Luggage capacity is 380 litres with the rear seats in place, with that number rising to 1250 litres with the seats lowered.


Mechanically, there are no options. Every C4 Shine is equipped with the 1.2-liltre turbocharged three-cylinder Puretech 155 engine that’s also used extensively by sister brand Peugeot. 


Producing 114kW and 240Nm, it’s connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission sourced from Aisin which drives the front wheels only. The transmission selector strays from convention with its self-centring ‘toggle’ lever taking the place of a traditional shifter, and being somewhat reminiscent of the Skoda Octavia’s arrangement.


Acceleration from 0-100km/h is a claimed 8.5 seconds, while average fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 6.1 litres per 100km.


The suspension is a familiar MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear arrangement, though Citroen has equipped the dampers with hydraulic bumpstops to minimise big jolts from harsh bumps, while spring and damper tuning is softer than average to provide a more serene primary ride. 


Sound deadening material and aerodynamic optimisation also helps cut road and wind noise to further improve cabin comfort.

Safety equipment is also extensive: The C4 Shine’s safety suite includes autonomous emergency braking (which also detects pedestrians and cyclists but only works between 30-80km/h), along with frontal collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning (with lane keep assist), active cruise control with Stop & Go, driver fatigue monitoring, speed limit recognition, a reversing camera and six airbags.


Citroen Australia is targeting a broad church with the C4 Shine, with singles, young families and empty nesters all in the target demographic. It expects the C4’s unique style and priority on comfort will be central to its appeal, and while the company doesn’t want to talk specific numbers regarding sales volume, it’s confident that supply should be capable of matching demand. 


2021 has been a dire year for Citroen, with the brand only shifting 112 vehicles to the end of October. Having just a two-model line-up has certainly been a handicap – roughly two-thirds of sales volume has been for the C3 hatch, with the remaining third being for the C5 Aircross – so the addition of the C4 should certainly give it a shot in the arm. 


Having a fresh-faced entrant in the hugely popular small SUV segment is good news for Citroen, however volume is unlikely to arrive merely by it being present in the market. 


Even though it’s a well-equipped offering the C4’s high price of entry at $37K before on-road costs is no doubt a barrier to meaningful volume, though if it can replicate just half of the success of its cousin the Peugeot 2008 – which has sold 458 units to the end of October – it could more than double Citroen’s Australian sales volume.


A lower price of entry would help further, but while expanding the range isn’t something that Citroen’s local office has immediate plans for, it hasn’t eliminated that possibility. 


“We spend a lot of time evaluating the market so we get the right car for our market, for the market that is currently happening in Australia,” said Peugeot Citroen Australia (PCA) product manager Daniel Khan.


“There are plans for other models, there’s grand plans for other variants and we’re always looking at completely new models and exploring all of those different channels, but as of now [C4] is a single variant … and we’re exploring to extend that as the model evolves with time.”


One way of evolving the C4 line-up would be to bring the all-electric e-C4 variant to Australia. According to Kate Gillis, PCA’s general manager, there’s some real potential for the e-C4 to arrive locally and give the brand a more unique offering – not to mention an entry into the increasingly important EV space.


“This [e-C4] is definitely something that is on the table at the minute, Daniel [Khan] is currently working away with regards to that evaluation and that’s something that we can share with you in the near future.”


2022 Citroen C4 pricing*


Shine (a)    $37,990


*Pricing excludes on-road costs.

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