The older I get, the more I’ve started to value convenience over headline-grabbing, whizz-bang new gadgets, or supposedly life-enhancing new technology. Apple devotees will remember the technology company’s old “it just works” slogan to promote the ease of use of its computers. No need to grapple with impenetrable jargon or operating procedures; it was just a case of plugging in and off you went.
How does this compare to the experience of running a French family car? Well, the C4’s pleasingly low-key interior sets the tone – if you want fancy gimmicks and a cluttered user experience then look elsewhere. And then there’s its seamless keyless entry and start system. In true Apple style, it just works. Clear instrumentation, simple to understand switchgear, and a driving experience that demands very little from the driver makes me increasingly happy with the C4 in my advancing years.
So here’s to another month of comfortable motoring without having to swear at an infotainment system – I use Citroën’s inbuilt option just as much as Android Auto – and a growing appreciation for the C4’s heated steering wheel. Oh yes, there’s nothing better than a warm wheel on a cold morning. Although it doesn’t take long for ‘warm’ to become ‘good-grief-that’s-hot’ and I’m reaching for the button. I’d love to be able to regulate the temperature, so maybe not everything “just works” after all. That’s a small wrinkle in an otherwise agreeable user experience, and it wasn’t so long ago that I was dismissing heated steering wheels as a novelty and the preserve of £100,000 Range Rovers. Now? I find the feature indispensable, so I guess I really am getting old. I’ve so far resisted putting the central heating on in the summer months, though.
Another drawback to advancing years is failing eyesight. Don’t worry I’m still legal, but anything that stops me having to scan a car’s entire fascia for even the basics is a plus. Which is why the C4’s head up display has made the car’s main display almost redundant. It doesn’t boast the highest of resolutions, but the digits are big enough and navigation instructions also appear – only from the built-in system sadly. And, for awkward types like me who insist on wearing polarised sunglasses, it’s still readable with shades. Trust me, you’d be surprised at the number of cars that aren’t polarised sunglasses-friendly.
You know something else that “just works”? The C4’s throttle pedal. I might have used it a bit more than usual this month, with the drop in fuel economy the end result. I can’t say I was having fun though, as I can point the finger at the many miles of stop-start city driving. If I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that the C4 really doesn’t like this environment. Yes, I’m comfortable sitting on those fancy seats, but the inability to waft along on a light throttle means you visit the black pump more frequently. Long-legged cruisers like this C4 thrive on relaxed cross-country jaunts and motorway slogs, not the daily grind across town at half-past seven in the morning.
That said, on balance the C4 just works more often than it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, it’s the environment it’s in that causes the friction, not the car’s inadequacies. Horses for courses and all that, if you like.
Date arrived 11th June 2021
Economy (On test) 48.5mpg