I've been driving the Citroen C4 for 2 years now. It's not the 2009 version which has a new engine with 120bhp but the one with the 110bhp engine. Not much else is changed though when I test-drove the 2009 C4 other than some tweaking in with the interior.
I was first drawn to the car by it's uniqueness. It didn't look like a standard hatch. It has a little of that French quirkiness but nothing too eccentric and odd like earlier Citroens. You wouldn't be able to mistake the C4 for anything else on the road.
The interior is equally unique. It is far less boring and conventional than the Golf, Focus or Astra. People always comment on the quirky central digital speedometer and the fixed-hub steering wheel whenever they get into the car. The plastics feel good and the leather is an attractive (to me) Camel colour. Strangely, the plastics on the door and dashboard turn blue upon contact with water but return to it's original black once it dries.
It is reasonably spacious as well. I like that it's a hatchback as the rear opening is more usable as compared to a saloon which has a smaller opening. With 2 rear seats folded down, I have been able to fit 2 passengers, a double bass, a cello, a viola and 2 violins plus a few bags.
It comes with so much standard kit as well. Cruise Control, Speed Limiter, Dual-zone Auto Climate Control, Auto Headlights, Auto Wipers, Full auto windows all round, Leather seats, Factory-fitted alloys etc. I have an issue with the auto windows though. The window controls on the driver's door don't work as well as they should.
It drives well. I like the slightly weighted steering because it feels more stable than the feather-light Subaru Impreza steering. There's enough poke from the engine, though the engine doesn't feel very powerful from standstill. It's much stronger in the mid-range though, meaning it does overtakes better than it would traffic light drag races.
There is one huge let down, which I think is the only major problem with this car. The gearbox is terrible. Compared to the Golf's 7-speed DSG, the technology in this gearbox is Flintstonian. 4 speeds and it jerks. The salesperson at Citroen did say however, that they've tweaked the gearbox a little to reduce the jerking. The engine RPM is about 3000 at 100kmh so for long drives up the North-South, it may become a little tiresome. It could definitely use a 5th gear.
The gearbox may be terrible, but the ride is magic. It isn't a big car but it rides like one with a longer wheelbase. It soaks up bumps well and is well damped. It's not too wallowy and soft and neither is it too stiff and jittery. There is quite a fair bit of body roll if you take corners aggressively but this is a family car after all.
All in all, this is a very capable family hatchback with a well appointed interior, loads of standard kit and looks that set it apart from the crowd. It rides well and if you take what the Citroen salesperson said about the gearbox being improved, it would drive very well too. At the price it's going, it's cheaper than the basic Golf, bigger than the the similarly priced Punto and fresher than the ageing Astra. The C4 Turbo sounds pretty exciting as well.
Nicely designed interior
Lots of equipment
Unique exterior and interior styling
C4 Turbo is faster
Electrics are unreliable