Better range and motorway performance for this likeable mid-sized EV are very welcome, but they demand a price premium

Find Citroen e-C4 deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
Nearly-new car deals
From £17,799
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

The Citroën ë-C4 wasn’t one of the very first mid-sized hatchbacks to go fully electric and we should probably be glad that it wasn’t. Because if it had been in the vanguard of affordable EVs, an electric powertrain might well have been novelty enough. Would there have been room left over for Citroën to do its habitual quirky thing and bake a bit of alternative design appeal and left-field joie de vivre into the car?

As it was, when the ë-C4 finally came along in 2020 and the affordable EV segment was already established, it could plough a furrow of its own - and now, that furrow is pushing out just a little bit more widely. 

Having had a series of upgrades to its mechanical and equipment specification introduced incrementally over the past couple of years - a cheaper entry-level model at the turn of 2022, and series of hardware revisions later that year (among which were a new heating and ventilation system, with an efficiency-boosting heat pump as standard, as well as longer transmission gearing) - the car has now had a minor facelift. 

As part of it, every ë-C4 in the range has been made marginally more aerodynamic and efficient again, with electric range on the standard car extended up to 224 miles. And there’s also a new, range-topping model with more battery capacity and a more efficient and powerful motor.



citroen ec4 review 2023 19 static front

Towards the end of the last decade, Citroën set out on a path to give its future models an SUV look while avoiding the SUV drawbacks of a large frontal area and heavy weight that create more emissions. The Citroën C4 and ë-C4 hatchbacks were the first examples of that plan being put into action.

Quite interesting-looking, isn’t it? At 1520mm, it’s 25mm taller than a Ford Focus, and it runs tyres with up to 60-section sidewalls, which are positively balloonish by recent standards. There’s also lower-body cladding for fuller effect and a fastback sort of roofline. It’s a little shorter than the Toyota C-HR, itself barely a crossover, and again by about 25mm. 

Who knew the BMW X6 would be so influential? This car has a less aggressive take on things, mind. Citroën is a company that’s often willing to make its cars look a little unusual, and that doesn’t do the C4 any harm. Some very minor modifications to the car’s exterior boost its aerodynamic efficiency for the 2024 model year, and most versions of it continue with the same 134bhp permanent magnet synchronous motor as before, and the same 50kWh lithium ion battery. 

But the headline inclusion is a new range-topping version of the car with expanded battery capacity and more motor power. The battery cells for it have a more nickel-rich chemistry, increasing total installed capacity to 54kWh, and range as far as 260 miles on the WLTP combined cycle. And along with that battery comes a new hybrid synchronous drive motor that makes up to 154bhp. Both low- and high-powered versions of the ë-C4 have the same homologated kerb weight, but the new, more powerful model actually has the marginally better lab-test energy efficiency (it only produces its peak power if you are in Sport driving mode), leading to a WLTP combined electric range estimation of 260 miles.


citroen ec4 review 2023 08 dash

The Citroën ë-C4’s spacious, boldly featured and imaginatively laid-out interior helps the ambience transcend the influence of some of the cabin’s cheaper-feeling materials. The seats are comfortable, the instrumentation and infotainment systems clear and navigable enough.  There’s a wide variety of materials and finishes, from traditional graining to modern technical graining and fabrics, including a bold sash down the door.

Physical (rather than exclusively touchscreen-activated) climate controls are an aid to usability, and when you’re driving, the downsized digital binnacle screen gives you all the information you really need, in line with the car’s simplified, functional ethos.

The driving position is sound, there’s quite generous space in the rear, and the boot capacity is a competitive 380-1250 litres. The C4 is 4.35m long, so not huge for a car in the Volkswagen Golf class, but it still offers plenty of cabin space, albeit with a higher-rised driving position than some hatchbacks have. (Rumble around with your heels under the driver’s seat and you’ll feel the moulding within which the car’s drive battery is carried, which you’re effectively sitting above.)

All versions of the car get a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring as standard (not the easiest to navigate, although it has a few useful physical shortcut buttons) and a 5.5in instrument screen. Higher-trim versions add connected navigation, heated Advanced Comfort front seats, premium audio and wireless device charging.

On the passenger side of the car, there’s also a storage drawer hidden in the fascia that's suitable for tablet PCs, and a pop-out dock you can use as a tablet holder, assuming your device fits inside Citroën’s optional case.


citroen ec4 review 2023 02 tracking rear

There are two pedals and a small, simple gear selector in the ë-C4, plus the option of a B mode, which gives greater lift-off deceleration but doesn’t allow for one-pedal driving; there’s always creep at low speeds, like in an auto. There are no controls for finer adjustment of battery energy regeneration, though, and while that keeps the driving experience simple, there are times when you miss them.

The car has plenty of instant pick-up around town and as you accelerate up to the national speed limit – at which point the 134bhp of the standard models begins to feel more weedy. Even so, there’s very respectable performance and great drivability everywhere until that point.

With the new top-level model, the extra motor power isn’t so apparent when the ë-C4 is picking up from low speeds, but it does deliver useful extra performance above 50mph, where that hybrid synchronous motor would also deliver most of its yield on improved running efficiency, you’d bet. 

The catch is that you have to remember to use Sport driving mode in order to tap into the extra high-speed performance. If you don’t, motor power is capped at the same 134bhp of the standard car, and torque is the same 192lb ft at any rate.


citroen ec4 review 2023 05 cornering front

When corners come, the ë-C4 feels quite soft, malleable, lightly weighted through the controls and a just little roll happy. Nothing nearly serious enough to undermine the grip levels or general stability, though; just enough to make the car feel usefully comfy and a little bit Citroën-idiosyncratic.

It’s a car to take unexpected enjoyment from when you're driving keenly, as it happens, perhaps because so few of todays' new cars take the 'soft and gentle' approach to getting down the road any more. If you can make good time from point to point in an ë-C4, you’re fully involved in the process and very likely enjoying what you’re doing. This isn’t quite some modern, electrified 2CV, but its dynamic positioning relative to more serious-feeling rivals isn’t too dissimilar.

There’s no particular suspension tuning for the 154bhp model, so it drives very much like the regular ë-C4, with an amiably Gallic gentle bound and shrug. Grip levels are high enough to put you at ease at speed, and body control is similar. But the light steering and supple, absorptive ride all manage to give primacy to comfort, isolation and convenience - and somehow also preserve a modicum of driver appeal in an EV that sits towards the lower end of the scale on kerb weight, and feels it.

The tyres’ fairly generous sidewalls - plus the rolling comfort that Citroën says it’s aiming to put into its cars, rather unashamedly and endearingly - mean the ë-C4 rides relatively gently, but there are occasional moments of long-wave head-toss and shorter-frequency cabin shake. Broadly speaking, though, you’d say Citroën’s efforts to make this a comfortable, easy-going car have been successful.


citroen ec4 review 2023 01 tracking front

When the UK government withdrew its subsidy for electric cars in 2022, the ë-C4 was one of the few mid-sized options you could still get into for less than £30,000. Now, as budget options from China such as the MG 4 and BYD Dolphin arrive, its value positioning looks less convincing.

It’s a shame, for UK buyers at least, that the longer-legged, bigger-batteries model will only be offered in Citroën’s new range-topping ë-Series trim. Introduced earlier in 2023, ë-Series models get exterior styling and interior equipment enhancements, among the latter being a stereo upgrade, a black roof, special alloy wheels and Alcantara seats. 

The upshot, however, is that UK drivers won’t be able to get into the new, 260-mile ë-C4 for less than £37,000, for which outlay Renault, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and MG all offer rivals that’ll go even further on a charge.

In mixed testing, our experience suggested that 230-240 miles would be a realistic real-world range from that upper-level model, and from the shorter-range ones, 180-200 miles is more realistic. Meanwhile, DC rapid charging at up to 100kW is adequate for the price, but a little way off key rivals, as our empirical DC rapid charging test results show. 


citroen ec4 review 2023 19 static front

The Citroën ë-C4 probably needed to spread the gains reserved for its new upper-level model a little more freely throughout the model range in order to make much progress in what is becoming one of the most fiercely competitive parts of the new car market. In top level guise, it certainly goes farther and drives with more assurance and authority out of town than it used to, but only for a price that some will consider uncharacteristically high.

Lower down in the range, the car continues to offer alternative styling, plenty of space, good ease of use, a comfortable ride and and some neat practicality features to customers who might otherwise be shopping for an electric supermini. It lacks electric range next to some, and upmarket desirability and cabin quality next to others, however. But it is an amiably left-field option and, with some appreciably soft-riding Gallic charm, it’s also more fun to drive than you might imagine.

Off-the-wall character should help this car stay afloat within its increasingly competitive niche, but convincing customers not to stray to Chinese brands would surely be easier if battery improvements like these weren’t preserved for upper-level cars.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Citroen e-C4 First drives