Longer saloon version of C4 hatchback is equally likeable

The new Citroën ë-C4 X is as straightforward a proposition as its name suggests. The 'ë' is because it’s electric only, the 'C4' because it’s based on the Citroën C4 hatchback and the 'X' because there’s more besides: a rakish, fastback-style rear end with a saloon boot.

It’s longer than the C4, at 4.6 metres rather than 4.36 metres, but has the same 2.67m wheelbase, so everything new is hanging out the rear. It’s very much a saloon version of the hatch, and it's the longest car made on the Stellantis CMP architecture, meant for smaller cars.

In the UK, there's just the one battery option: a 46kWh (net; gross is 50kWh) lump giving it a range of just 222 miles - not a figure that's going to break any records. Nor is the charging rate particularly revolutionary, with a maximum 100kW ingestion replenshing 0-80% in 30 minutes. A 134bhp front-mounted motor drives the front wheels, giving a 0-62mph time of 10sec dead.

But Citroën is refreshingly honest about this. No smoke and mirrors here, just a candid appraisal of what a bigger battery would have meant: more cost, more weight and less of what buyers allegedly want. 

Citroen e c4 x 2023 008 static front 0

Citroën wants to be the brand of 'enough' and not embrace excess. That has overtones of the comedic BL Princess strapline 'Better than average', but let's gloss over that and focus on the fact that this elongated ë-C4 does deliver on the key aspect of the small battery strategy, in that it costs from £31,995. In this day and age, that's a lot of car for the money.

We tried the mid-range Shine trim (£34,495), but basic Sense is the one to get, as it doesn't miss out on much.

Beyond the cost, of significance is that the rear seats have a more reclined back angle and the boot volume is 510 litres, 130 more than in the C4 – although it’s less versatile because the opening when you drop the split-folding rear bench is obviously shallower.

In other markets, you can get a diesel or petrol engine too, as you can here in the C4, but CO2-emissions pressures – and I suspect a more niche audience, because Brits have never been mad on saloon versions of hatches – have meant Citroën has kept it straightforward.

First impressions are C4-like, you will be utterly stunned to read. The front of the cabin is the same as that which we gave a solid three-and-a-half star rating in the C4’s road test two years ago, and it stacks up just as well today. The seats are broad and attractively finished, if on the flatter side, and the steering wheel is hugely adjustable.

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Citroen e c4 x 2023 006 dash 0

There’s a 10in central touchscreen for most major controls, with no separate rotary controller and only a couple of physical shortcut buttons, which is a pity, but at least the climate controls are real and separate. There are neat storage solutions, including a pull-out laptop shelf for the front passenger and a separate iPad stand in Shine and Shine Plus cars, but the number of cubbies isn't as revolutionary as other electric cars. Blame the fact that this car also appears as an ICE model in European markets. 

Material quality is mostly pretty strong, and in the areas where it isn’t, the design and finish choices are interesting.

The rear offers the same knee room as in the C4, with a little extra space in front of your noggin, because the seatback is more reclined, which presumably also does the head room a favour, although it’s by no means generous in this slope-backed car.

Like the C4 that has spawned it, the ë-C4 X is meant to have SUV-like proportions with few of the downsides like a big frontal area giving poor aerodynamic efficiency. In fact, with a drag coefficient of 0.29Cd, this car must be cleaner of back than the hatch, because it will go five miles farther on a charge. It carries 50kg over the hatch, at 1621kg, but that’s less of an issue for EV range, because of regenerative braking.

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Citroen e c4 x 2023 002 tracking rear 0

Citroën is aiming to major on comfort these days, and the ë-C4 X is a mature drive with an isolated ride. The ë-C4 X comes as standard with Citroën's Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, which, while far from as revolutionary as the Hydractive suspension of old, still manage to keep most of the UK road network's horribleness at bay. It can thump a little through a pothole when that particular wheel is unloaded, but in general it does a good job. The damping certainly feels superior to some more expensive family EVs'.

The steering is smooth and relaxed, consistent in weight and response. It doesn't give much in the way of feedback but still makes it easy to thread the car down a road. 

As with the rest of the ë-C4 X, excitement is a long way off, but for a relaxed car to blend into the background, you could do worse.

As we said earlier, it's the price that stands out. There are cheaper EVs out there, but the £31,995 ë-C4 X makes a compelling case for itself. Citroën insists it's a 'value' brand now - not for it words like 'cheap' or 'discounted' - that will concentrate on building right-sized cars. Will that be enough? Possibly. It can sprinkle some fairy dust elsewhere in the range by making cars such as the Oli concept, but the bread and butter is well served by those like the ë-C4 X.

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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