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Driven: Unique Citroen C4 safety tech for Australia

Born again: After a break from the Australian market, Citroen's C4 returns with more kit, a fuel efficient engine shared with the entry-level Peugeot 308 and a reversing camera just for Australia.

Returning Citroen C4 gets 1.2-litre 3-pot and Australia-only reverse camera

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Citroen logo6 Aug 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

CITROEN has responded to Australia's demand for essential automotive safety equipment by offering a reversing camera for its returning C4 small hatchback Down Under.

After a two-year hiatus, the C4 hatchback is back with a new more frugal PureTech 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, combined with a six-speed automatic transmission and optional rear-view camera that is unique to Australia.

At $29,990 before on-road costs, the 2015 version also brings a chassis retune, light exterior redesign, refreshed interiors and a dusting of new information and entertainment technology.

When it was previously sold in Australia, the C4 had an asking price of $27,990, but for its return, the new Seduction variant gains the new revamped looks, more efficient drivetrain and navigation with a 7.0-inch dash-mounted touchscreen.

A second more generously equipped Exclusive variant completes the 2015 C4 line-up priced from $33,990, which represents a $1500 increase over the 2013 equivalent, but Citroen claims the increase is offset by $5500 of additional equipment.

Over the entry-level C4, Exclusive gets the Australia-only reversing camera, half leather trim, panoramic glass roof, blind spot monitoring, parking radar all round, keyless entry and start, electric park brake and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Owners of the base Seduction C4 can add the Australia reverse camera for an additional $1000.

Speaking at the launch of the new C4, Citroen Australia general manager John Startari told GoAuto the updated model would “most definitely” increase sales but was primarily intended to satisfy existing C4 customers rather than attracting a significant new audience.

“We need to give them (existing C4 owners) something to move in to,” he said.

“We are ultimately going to have some conquest sales, but it’s not actively going out to attract people to the brand specifically with this car.

“There is a gap in the market for us and although the small segment is in decline, it’s still a large part of the Australian market, so we certainly don’t want to give away those clients.

“It’s essential for our dealers to maintain a product portfolio that allows them to achieve profitability and through-puts they need while we work towards the new product starting with Cactus next year.”

While other competing European brands offer equivalent models in the segment at a lower price, such as Volkswagen's $27,990 Golf 92TSI Comfort, Mr Startari said the new C4's standard equipment level was more generous.

“What our customer wants is a free option car,” he said. “Although the starting price looks expensive, when you compare spec for spec it is a very compelling proposition we put forward, to get that kind of equipment from the main competitors.

“I think that demonstrates that we are not going for conquest sales. If you look at where the market is there is a huge segment in that sub-$25,000 market but those cars are not what a Citroen buyer wants.”

With its new 1.2-litre engine, the 2015 C4 outguns the previous 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol by 8kW and a healthy 70Nm, but still manages to cut fuel-consumption from 7.0-litres per 100km to 4.8L/100km. The zero to 100km/h has also fallen by 1.1 seconds.

A six-speed automatic transmission is now standard fare in both variants and replaces the previous options of manual or four-speed automatic. The drivetrain's lighter construction has contributed to a 105kg weight saving over the previous petrol C4 or 125kg in the case of the diesel.

Unlike the previous version, a diesel variant is not on offer at this stage and Mr Startari explained that with a fuel economy similar to the previous diesel, the sole 1.2-litre petrol was likely to be the only offering for now.

A chassis revision is the only other significant mechanical change for the new version, with a retune of the front MacPherson strut dampers and springs and rear transverse beam to match the lighter drivetrain.

Citroen says the changes have improved comfort and electric power steering turn-in response.

Exterior changes are subtle with a new re-sculpted headlight design that incorporates LEDs, complemented by a more three-dimensional tail light design for the back end.

Seduction has standard 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker sound system with MP3, CD player, radio, Bluetooth, USB and AUX jack connectivity.

The remote key fob has a function to open all windows for cooling the interior prior to boarding, while cruise control, electrochromatic self-dimming rear view mirror, auto wipers and headlights are also standard.

Stepping up to the Exclusive adds to the Seduction gear with half-leather and Alcantara upholstery with driver's massage function, the Ceilo glass sunroof which measures an expansive 1.3 square metres, while all versions have improved sound insulation properties with specially treated windscreen, engine bay and body shell.

Dimensions are unchanged with an exterior 4330mm length, 1790mm width and 1490mm height, while boot space measures 408 litres but is expandable to 1183L with 60/40 folding second row seats.

Safety systems include Intelligent Traction Control for finding more grip on changing road surfaces and conditions, ESC, ABS with emergency braking assistance, hill hold, front fog lights with cornering function, six airbags, electric child locks and a NCAP five star safety rating.

Customers can add optional luxury touches to the new C4 with a choice of metallic paint for $800, or a pearlescent colour for $1000, while part leather interior costs $2500 while also adding massage function to the passenger seat.

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