Keyless entry technology is awesome. A real labour-saving addition to a car’s kit list, and I’m constantly grateful that it’s a feature of my C4. While I often come across as a Luddite, what with my disdain for creeping automation and intrusive ‘safety’ features, not having to fumble for your keys while grappling with shopping trumps intelligent cruise control any day.
Yes, I know that such technology is now widespread, but it wasn’t always the case. And like the electronic handbrake, it’s become refined to the point where it can be taken for granted. Plus, its origins in the luxury car sector now add a little glamour to otherwise mainstream models. Citroën pitches its C4 as a premium experience, and while I’m usually allergic to such marketing-led claims, it’s fair to say that this C4 is a noticeable and welcome step up from the C4 Cactus it indirectly replaced.
Having had the pleasure of running a C4 Cactus for this magazine, I’d say it was closer to the Dacia brand on the affordability and utility spectrum than the current C4. I don’t remember a plush cabin ambience or cabin materials, and long-distance journeys were never despatched with the same soothing and refined efficiency of this C4. The only thing connecting the two cars is the frugal nature of their diesel engines. And thanks to being able to experience both cars, I’ll take the C4 over the C4 Cactus on a long journey.
Citroën’s recent repositioning as a marque that wishes to prioritise comfort certainly helps with my choice. The firm’s focus on trick suspension technology and comfort-orientated seats are genuinely differentiating features. And I’ve enjoyed every bit of them on a number of wafty cross-country drives. The experiences have been good for the wallet, too. I’ve yet to come close to the C4’s official top economy figure, but regularly hit the lower end without making any kind of special effort. The car thrives on a light, constant throttle – something that’s impossible to achieve around town.
Driving on country roads in winter has highlighted another welcome technological inclusion: automatic dipping headlights. Like keyless entry, this was also once the preserve of premium cars, but the C4’s implementation works well and, crucially, takes the hassle out of doing it manually. It helps that the car’s headlights are bright with good coverage, too. I’ve yet to have the lights misbehave and inadvertently dazzle oncoming drivers which hasn’t always been the case with rival systems.
Stuff that works makes me happy, and I’m mostly happy when driving the C4. I say mostly because I still can’t hit the heated front seat button without looking – it’s located just out of sight near the heater controls. It’s proper first world problem territory, but on a cold, dark morning when you’re desperate for some warmth down below it’s a big deal. The car’s seats might be comfortable and supportive, but I sincerely believe that when it’s still dark outside, the interior of my fridge is warmer.