Citroen's funky new C4 struts the electric technology that FCA is ogling

Ronan Glon

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Citroën took the C4 nameplate in yet another direction by putting it on stilts and giving it a fastback-like roof line. Gasoline- and diesel-powered models will represent the bulk of sales, but it's available with the electric technology that convinced Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to propose to Citroën owner PSA. Although the odds of seeing the C4 in America are low, its platform could make its way here.

The new C4 is a multi-tasking crossover that needs to simultaneously replace the otherworldly C4 Cactus and the regular C4, which was a hatchback aimed at the Volkswagen Golf. Its front end falls in line with its prickly sibling's in the sense that it's unconventional, while its roof line will undoubtedly attract the contentious four-door coupe label. Look closely, and you'll spot subtle visual links (like the shape of the third side window) between the C4 and some of Citroën's earlier family cars, such as the GS introduced in 1970.

Surprising? Yes, a little, but it's not offensive or overly aggressive. And, keep in mind the C4 comes from the same design house that created the Ami, a box on wheels Citroën plans to lease for about $22 a month. From this vantage point, it almost looks normal.

Stylists toned it down inside. They gave the C4 a minimalist interior with a digital instrument cluster, and a bezel-less touchscreen that displays the infotainment system. Citroën explained it put a major focus on comfort when designing every part of the cabin, including the seats and the dashboard. This isn't where you'll find carbon fiber trim, a sport-plus-plus mode, and Recaro bucket seats.

At launch, the range will include two models named C4 and ë-C4, respectively. It doesn't take a seasoned analyst to tell the latter is powered by an electric powertrain. While full technical specifications haven't been released yet, the new C4 shares its CMP platform with the second-generation Peugeot 208, and it borrows its sibling's electric drivetrain. It likely consists of a 136-horsepower electric motor that draws electricity from a 50-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to spin the front wheels. Driving range checks in at approximately 200 miles on the fabulously optimistic WLTP testing cycle used in Europe. All-wheel drive won't be offered.

Gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines will also be available, though Citroën hasn't detailed them yet. Buyers will be asked to choose between a manual and an automatic transmission; the two-pedal setup is becoming increasingly popular in Europe.

Citroën's new C4 will arrive in showrooms across Europe in the coming months. Pricing will start in the vicinity of €20,000, which represents approximately $22,500 at the current conversion rate. It's not coming to the United States, but FCA is in the process of merging with PSA, and it has its eye on the electric-ready CMP platform. It's one of two architectures that will underpin over two thirds of the merged group's combined annual production. Unverified rumors claim Alfa Romeo's upcoming entry-level crossover, the Tonale, will sit on French bones, and it will gain an electric powertrain closely related to the one offered on the C4 and the 208.

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