Buying an electric car seemed like a great idea until the energy crisis hit. Since then, with the costs of charging on the up and the government ditching the plug-in car grant, enthusiasm for EVs has cooled off. Electric cars themselves are far from cheap, too: the Citroen e-C4 Shine Plus on test here will set you back £34,995.
It does sit at the top of the e-C4 range, though, and comes with several extras including a glass sunroof, electric drivers seat with massage function and a City Park pack, which costs £350 alone.
Despite the cost, the e-C4 Shine Plus has plenty going for it, including a design that oozes curiosity appeal. You wouldn’t know to look at it, but underneath it’s using the same Stellantis e-CMP gubbins as the DS3 Crossback e-Tense, Peugeout e-208, Vauxhall Corsa-e and Mokka-e.
The setup is pretty no-nonsense too, with a 50kW battery and single 138bhp electric motor driving the front wheels.
The Citroen e-C4 has more of a crossover vibe than anything, but feels higher off the ground than expected. This faux go-anywhere appearance is enhanced by the quirky panels integrated into the sills, which rise up into the bottoms of the doors for an extra touch of ruggedness. The design of the front and rear ends – the former featuring distinctive LED headlights – has been nicely executed too, with a roofline that cuts down to the boot. Just keep in mind this also cuts down on rear headroom as a result.
Meanwhile, the cockpit is a very nice place to be, especially in terms of comfort. Naturally, the seats are typically Citroen, as in extremely comfortable even though they do look and feel a little flat. There’s hardly any side support, but you do tend to sink down into them when you get in. The effect is much the same in the rear and although the initial expectation is that they’re not going to be great, they’re absolutely fine.
There’s lots of quirky Citroen styling, especially in the dashboard instrumentation area. The space around the centre console housing the drive selector looks exactly the same as that found in other Stellantis group EVs. It looks and feels quite basic, but works as expected and there’s nothing that catches you out. The simplicity is ideal, especially for anyone driving an EV for the first time.
Out back, the boot is sufficient for everyday trips, with room under the floor to store the charging cables if you end up buying more shopping than expected.
You’ll find the same kind of drive mode layout here as you will in Vauxhall, DS and Peugeot’s takes on the platform. It’s a decent format, with a centrally mounted tab that allows Eco, Normal or Sport modes to be selected and the fun to commence.
And this is a fun car to drive. It feels so light, with steering that requires hardly any effort and a soft, almost spongy suspension setup that makes you feel like you’re floating on air. The slight downside to this is that the e-C4 can feel a little bit too wafty, especially if you’re bundling into a sharpish bend. It’ll roll a bit and make it through, but the effect might not be to everyone’s liking.
Nevertheless, the e-C4 is just fine if you pootle along, not doing anything rash and just enjoying the comfort on offer. This is a car that works best on shorter runs into town, where the range isn’t going to put your nerves on edge and the battery and motor combination work most harmoniously. On a longer run, the range soon starts to ebb away, especially if you’ve got the hammer down.
Inevitably, this will mean one or two stops on a lengthy trip, but due to the smallish powerpack, a rapid charger can get you back up to 80% quickly. Well, around half an hour, but that’s perfectly matched to a splash and dash foray into the motorway services, right? Add in a coffee to go perhaps. This is also the sort of car that seems quite happy to be plugged in at home for the night, with a domestic wallbox charging effort taking around seven and a half hours.
There’s a 10in touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, which has all of the core control options. Interestingly, Citroen has deemed to keep the temperature settings sitting at each side of the screen, which encroaches on the viewable area somewhat. It seems a little bit of a waste of space, given there are also physical buttons and dials underneath where you can manually adjust the same settings.
You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while our car also featured wireless phone charging on top of the obligatory USB ports. Overall, the touchscreen system seems to work okay, but there are the usual niggles with trying to change some settings using a touchscreen on-the-go. The Citroen e-C4 Shine Plus also features a head up display, which once you’ve got one to look at makes resorting to looking at a standard instrument cluster almost redundant.
Parking sensors and the 360-degree camera are useful to have, particularly given how the roofline drops down at the back of the car. There’s also a spoiler that cuts through the middle of your view out the rear window, so at times the technology becomes a necessity, rather than a convenience.
Citroen e-C4 verdict
Everything about the Citroen e-C4 is easy, from driving it to charging it, and even the touchscreen infotainment system can be mastered on the move. It’s a great car for nipping into town on errands, although the somewhat limited range makes motorway excursions a bit more of an event than they need to be. While the range is not bad – up to and around 200 miles-ish – there’s often the need to stop off for replenishment.
However, if you can time this with your coffee and toilet breaks there’s no real feeling of disruption to your schedule. On the bits in-between, you’ll find the e-C4 sails on down the road without fuss or bother.
The Citroen e-C4 Shine Plus is most fun when you’re jumping in it to nip into town, or doing some shuttle runs to school and back. In these types of scenario, it also seems happiest in terms of energy consumption. It’s hard to fault the comfort levels while you do it too. Combined with the incredibly light steering and spongy suspension, this is a car that’s tailor-made for running errands. Yup, the Citroen e-C4 Shine Plus is a likeable little thing, made all the better for its slightly funky French-flavoured features.
A quirky all-electric crossover with acceptable range and lots of Citroen-style comfiness
Citroen e-C4 technical specifications
|Cargo volume||380 litres|