the electric compact that dreamed of being a SUV

the electric compact that dreamed of being a SUV Auto

Taking advantage of its renewal, the Citroën C4 goes zero-emission. The compact now offers a 100% electric drive alongside the traditional petrol and diesel units. But what is the first mass-produced electric car with chevrons worth? We tested it on the motorway and on minor roads.

At first glance, the new electric Citroën C4 looks like a small coupe SUV. Yet it is a compact sedan, disguised under a shapely body and athletic lines. The look stands out, rather innovative and assertive, it definitely breaks with the traditional Franchouillard style. On the road, the new C4 stands out without monopolizing space like a classic SUV. It stretches 4.36 m long, 1.80 m wide and 1.52 m high for a relatively controlled mass of 1541 kg.

Besides the look, the other big change is under the hood. By using the PSA group’s e-CMP platform, the new C4 can now offer a 100% electric engine. It is identical to that of the Peugeot e-208, e-2008 and other DS3 Crossback e-Tense. The block develops a power of 100 kW (136 hp) for 260 Nm of torque, enough to bring down the 0 to 100 km / h in 9.4 seconds. To do this, it is essential to activate the “Sport” mode among the 3 driving modes offered (eco and normal).

the electric compact that dreamed of being a SUV

Gourmet on the highway

Taking advantage of an access ramp to the motorway, we tested 0 to 100 km / h in “normal” mode, which slightly restricts engine power. The acceleration was not very dynamic, but more than sufficient to integrate into the traffic safely. This mode is perfectly suited to everyday driving, it is a good compromise between performance and energy saving. We did our entire test in “normal” mode, which did not limit the Citroën e-C4’s noticeable appetite on the motorway.

On the first half of our route, a 73 km journey almost entirely made on expressways between 110 and 130 km / h, the compact claimed an average consumption of 20.1 kWh / 100 km. Without being monstrous, the performance is a little too greedy, where larger vehicles like the Hyundai Kona and Kia e-Niro would have soberly displayed between 17 and 19 kWh / 100 km. This excess of the motorization associated with the e-CMP platform is now well known. Users of other vehicles using the same architecture regularly report high average fuel consumption on the motorway.

Beyond this slight handicap, the ë-C4 is rather comfortable on expressways. Driver aids like Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Tool work well and make the ride more comfortable. Soundproofing in the cabin is good, in part thanks to the vehicle’s fairly aerodynamic Scx, which tops out at 0.66. To compare, the Tesla Model 3’s Scx is 0.5, the Peugeot e-208’s Scx 0.62 and 0.73 for the massive Jaguar I-Pace.

Started with about 90% of battery (the dashboard does not display the remaining percentage), we arrived with 63% at the end of the motorway route. A short journey which allows us to estimate the total autonomy of the ë-C4 on expressways at around 200 km. Not so bad ! When the battery runs out, you must then recharge at one of the ultra-fast charging stations present in the service areas.

First test on fast terminal

The Citroën ë-C4 advertises up to 100 kW of direct current (DC) power via its Combo CCS port. To test it, we stop at an Ionity ultra-fast charging station in Chartres. The vehicle still has a good battery level (63%), which should probably prevent reaching 100 kW. No indication in kW of the charging power is present on the instrument panel. A very small line timidly indicates “250 km per hour”, a figure which varies very frequently and leaves doubt about its reliability. Fortunately, the remaining time and the battery level are displayed.

In the end, we went from 63% to 83% in 18 minutes and 50 seconds of recharging. An unsatisfactory performance since we recovered 10.02 kWh by charging at an average power of only 32 kW. While this can be disabling for followers of long motorway journeys, it is not for everyday life. The ë-C4 can be recharged every day on a domestic socket (about twenty hours for a full tank), a wallbox or small public terminal (7:30 am) thanks to its standard 7.4 kW AC charger. Those in a hurry will take the 11 kW AC charger option billed at 350 €, which reduces the duration of the refueling to 5 hours on a suitable terminal or wallbox.

Like a fish in water on small roads

Charging overnight at home allows you to set off with 350 km of range the next day (according to the 100% WLTP cycle). A radius of action widely achievable if we are satisfied with mixed journeys, urban or rural. To close our loop, we drove exclusively on small national and departmental roads. The ë-C4 crept through it like an animal in its natural environment. The suspensions with progressive hydraulic stops are perfectly flexible. Irreproachable, they allow you to cross the many speed bumps and bumps in the road in great comfort while firmly supporting the weight of the vehicle and its battery.

Shock absorbers that contribute to excellent road holding with the help of the pack which, placed under the floor, lowers the center of gravity. A feature that preserves a reasonable ground clearance of 15.6 cm. The ease of the ë-C4 on small roads is confirmed by the balanced average fuel consumption noted at the end of our 69 km journey. It comes in at 14.8 kWh / 100 km for an average speed of around 60 km / h. Without being remarkably sober, the performance is correct for this category of vehicle.

Electricity accessible thanks to the bonus

The first mass-produced electric Citroën is convincing overall. It will meet the needs of the vast majority of motorists by offering a new style and advanced driving comfort. Fans of long journeys will however prefer to turn to models that are more economical on the motorway and less hesitant about fast charging.

The first copies of the ë-C4 must arrive in dealerships at the end of December 2020. To sell it, salespeople will have to insist on the aids and bonuses that potential owners can claim. Because the compact starts all the same at the “gross” price of 35,600 € in “Feel” finish. Three other versions “Feel Pack”, “Shine” and “Shine Pack” raise the price to a ceiling of € 38,800 (excluding options). Once the ecological bonus of € 7,000 has been deducted, the cheapest ë-C4 is reduced by € 28,600. It becomes much more affordable by accumulating the maximum conversion bonus since the price drops to € 23,600, but you still have to be eligible.

If the gap between the cheapest petrol and electric C4s is € 7,700 (ecological bonus deducted), the gap is just a small rut with equal finish and power. In fact, switching from the 130 hp petrol model with “Feel” automatic gearbox to the zero-emission version requires a small effort of only 1700 € (bonus deducted). The costs of using an electric being significantly lower, the investment very quickly becomes profitable. This favorable report could well propel sales of the new Citroën ë-C4.

Citroën e-C4 test: the results

Excellent road holding

The flexibility of the suspensions

Innovative styling, both on the outside and in the cabin

The quality of the finishes on board

Roominess (excluding height in the back seat)

The SUV look in trompe l’oeil

The motor’s appetite on the highway

Poor DC charging performance

The lack of display of the battery percentage

The absence of display of the charging power in kW


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