This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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This is a launch report. In other words, it's simply a new model announcement. The driving experience was limited to a short drive over a prepared course chosen to make the product look good. We can therefore not tell you what it will be like to live with over an extended period, how economical it is, or how reliable it will be. A very brief first impression is all we can give you until such time as we get an actual test unit for trial. Thank you for your patience.
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Published in The Witness Motoring on Wednesday March 30, 2011
"We are wholly committed to South Africa," said Frèdèric Chapuis, Managing Director of Citroën SA. "We have not only been a full branch of the French company for the past year, but our spares prices and servicing charges have been brought into line with customer expectations, making them among the most competitive in South Africa. We are here to stay."
More welcome news is that the new C4 is not just a facelift; build quality has been improved while interior styling has been revamped as well. The boot is bigger too, now measuring 406 litres. For fans of the company's innovative flair, there is yet more envelope-stretching technology but without the occasionally worrying avant-garde styling of some previous models. Imagine all the toys a buyer could want and then some, but in a more conventional body with conventional suspension, at prices that are very competitive by today's standards. I have a small confession - while M. Chapuis was reeling off the list of available goodies, my brain was going, "R260 000, R280 000, R300 000, R310..." as I waited for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Imagine my surprise when the final Powerpoint slide revealed that the most expensive car in the range slips in at R265 900?
Speaking of the range, there are five models spanning two engines, three trim levels and three gearboxes. Engines are the proven 88 kW and 115 kW versions of the familiar Peugeot-Citroën-BMW 1600 cc four cylinder. Trim levels are fairly basic 'Attraction,' available only with a 5-speed manual shifter, more upmarket 'Seduction' models with choice of manual or four-speed automatic and really luxurious 'Exclusive' versions with either the regular manual 'box or a six-speed clutchless transmission. The latter is available only with the 115 kW motor. When you get to the showroom you might wonder about references to VTi 120 and THP 155 engines. The numbers refer to horsepower ratings, VTi refers to variable valve timing with conventional fuel injection and THP simply means turbo, high pressure.
"For the new Citroën C4, we developed intuitive technologies that can be used every day, to make life easier. We placed particular emphasis on all aspects of life on board, comfort and relaxation. Today, rather than focusing on speed, people want to take full advantage of the time spent travelling by car," says Jérémie Maestracci, C4 Project Manager. Looking beyond recognised technologies such as hill start assist, electric parking brake (Exclusive), optional Xenon dual-function directional headlamps, parking assistance and parking space ‘gap’ measurement (Exclusive), the C4 boasts features not previously seen in this segment. Think blind spot monitoring, programmable speed limiter and cruise control (five preselectable settings), front fog lights with static cornering lighting, "business class" seats with lumbar adjustment and electric lumbar massage, sound spatialisation for the music centre, selectable "ringtones" for the indicators, three levels of intensity for the air conditioner and a 230-volt power point for recharging laptops, portable audio devices, cameras and mobile phones.
Also available is satellite navigation, Bluetooth and the Citroën WiFi On Board system. This lets passengers take full advantage of the web while travelling, so making the most of time spent on the road. Easy to use, it is based on a WiFi unit placed in the car. Providing a continuous wireless connection, it runs with the 3G/3G+ SIM card specific to the web connection subscribed by the customer with the operator of his or her choice. Providing an in-car web connection, Citroën WiFi On Board lets occupants access e-mails, tweet, receive practical information and play online games, all at the same time.
Only 88 kW cars with manual transmissions were available for the familiarisation drive because the more powerful units with clutchless gearboxes had arrived too late for the launch. The standard C4s performed well and handled excellently. Suspension was fairly firm but remained comfortable over a variety of surfaces. Gearbox ratios were evenly spaced and shifting was smooth.
Not just modern but environmentally conscious too, the C4 uses 15 percent 'green' materials out of a total 200 kg of non-metal parts. Forty percent of these are natural and 60 percent are recycled. Green materials are thus used in around thirty parts or functions on the new C4. Its Euro5 engines average between 143 and 159 gm/km of CO2 over the standardised combined cycle.
The production site at Mulhouse, France, where the C4 is manufactured, has been working on its environmental performance for a number of years, with particular emphasis on electricity and water consumption per vehicle. This was slashed to one fourteenth in 30 years (9,5 m3/vehicle in 2009) with CO2 and volatile organic compounds emissions divided by ten in the past decade.
C4 VTi 120 Attraction: R 203,900
C4 VTi 120 Seduction: R 218,900
C4 VTi 120 Seduction auto: R 233,900
C4 VTi 120 Exclusive: R 239,900
C4 THP 155 Exclusive EGS6: R 265,900
Warranty and Maintenance:
3 year/100 000km warranty and 5 year/100 000km service plan
Warranty extension to 5 years/100 000km: R9660 (incl. Vat)
Freedrive warranty extension to 5 years/100 000km with 5 years/100 000km maintenance plan: R19 560 (incl. Vat)
To see a report on the 2011 C4 Seduction VTi 120 click here
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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