Citroen C4 boasts French flair

Iain Dooley checks out Citroen's C4 family hatch – a car offering a pleasing blend of style and practicality.

Citroen C4 (2004 onwards)

Engines – It shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that the C4's diesel engines offer a winning combination of refinement and economy. If you don't rack up the miles, the car's petrol motors are just as competent. Look for the recent turbo motors for added performance.

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Exterior – The C4's slippery profile and bold styling are features you'll find throughout the current Citroen range. The car's rounded shape is refreshing full of detail and character.

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Interior – Cabin quality has improved considerably in recent years on all Citroen products. The C4's cabin boasts soft-touch materials and a business-like ambience. There's room for a growing family and plenty of quirky details to keep fans happy.

Driving – Although not explicitly developed to be sporty, the regular C4 variants prove enjoyable and engaging. Citroen's trademark supple ride is evident on rough urban roads, while the various engines offer a sophisticated mix of economy and performance.

Ownership – One of many cars in this class delivering a low-maintenance ownership experience, the C4 boasts an easy-to-drive nature and widespread dealer network. Cabin materials should prove robust enough to cope with families and boot space is generous.

What to look for – Ex-fleet cars should come with a comprehensive end-of-life report, and it's important that privately-owned examples possess an equally detailed service history for added peace of mind. Kerbed wheels, parking dents and scratches should have you walking away as there's no shortage of choice. And don't forget the all-important test-drive.

Model history – 2004, Citroen launches family hatch replacement for its Xsara model. Rounded styling, varied engine range, high level of equipment and refinement are the main highlights. Three and five-door models available, plus VTS performance version.

Reasons to buy – Good-looking, enjoyable to drive, well-equipped and practical.

Reasons to beware – Build-quality on early cars, abused VTS models, patchy service history.

Pick of the range – C4 1.6i 16v SX five-door.

What to pay – 2004 54 �3,350; 2005 05 �3,725; 2005 55 �3,900; 2006 06 �4,350; 2006 56 �4,550; 2007 07 �4,975; 2007 57 �5,150; 2008 08 �5,775; 2008 58 �6,050; 2009 09 �6,500. Showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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