The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.

The outgoing C4 is a car that will pass without comment or eulogy. Except here. Well, of sorts anyway…

Shut the door on your way out, there’s a love… The Citroen C4, yesterday. Image

They say that above every cloud lies blue sky, so while we get over our disappointment with the creative execution of the heavily facelifted C4 Cactus, its advent has brought about the demise of perhaps the least worthy bearer of the double chevron ever. Seemingly killed for lacking that now essential Citroën quality, its lack of joie de vivre and cynical adequacy has ensured that it no longer fits within Linda Jackson’s (bouncy) castle moat.

Announcing the decision to pull the plug on the unloved and slow selling C-sector hatchback, PSA product planning chief Xavier Peugeot told Autocar’s Julian Rendell on Wednesday, “The current C4 is a seven-year-old design and we had to make a decision. We will stop production and the C4 Cactus will take its place.”

Not simply a grey of no significance from a creative standpoint, the outgoing C4 was simply a poor effort in a class of uniform competence that brooked no shirking at the back. The C4 smacked not so much of underachievement, but more of apathy. And if Citroën didn’t care, then why should anyone else?

Seemingly created to present a sackcloth and ashes polarity to the more ephemerally and graphically overstyled DS4, it represented a miscalculation by PSA, especially given the sales arc of both cars. Last year alone, the now superseded C4 Cactus comfortably outsold the C4 hatch, hardly surprising given that it is significantly cheaper (before options anyway), a good deal livelier not to mention (like it or not) more visually engaging. The DS4 by the way, (praise the heavens) is also tanking.

Driven to Write’s Richard Herriott presented the following verdict when he subjected a C4 to the usual exhaustive DTW road test regime in 2015, stating; “What I want to get across here is that the C4 is a car where there was no unifying vision to tie the car together. I don’t see it as a comfortable vehicle, despite Citroën’s insistence. The ride is long from the best I have tried in recent years (perhaps only the Megane was worse). Engine noise, road noise and wind noise all obtrude. The interior form language promises a sportiness the car doesn’t provide either. Individually, quite competent people worked on this car. They needed someone to unify their efforts. They were absent.”

The face of convergence. Nu-Cactus. Image: Autocar

Xavier Peugeot went on to inform Rendell that “We see an opportunity to do something fresh and different with the new C4 in three to four years time,” This means the revamped Cactus has some considerable time yet to man the portcullis until a new car, likely to be twinned with both Peugeot and Opel will arrive. That’s a lot of fort-holding for one so expedience-riven.

But that’s for later. Let us now simply bask in the warm glow, knowing the C4 is no more. Because whatever Linda and her elves dream up next, it cannot be as dreary, as unremittingly grey, as stultifyingly adequate as the car we bid a tearless farewell to today.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

18 thoughts on “The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.”

  1. This particular generation of C4 really rubs me up the wrong way and I struggle to articulate exactly why. Yeah, it’s uninteresting and poor in execution, but that is hardly unique to this specific model. The closest I can get is that it is the poster child for good-enough-mediocrity-that-passes-for-adequate thinking that still pervades the industry – Citroen’s Stilo moment, if you like. The first-generation C4 was no great shakes dynamically but at least it had visual standing to make up for it. I would honestly take a pre-facelift Xsara over this, all day, every day. At least they handle and ride properly.

  2. “perhaps the least worthy bearer of the double chevron ever”

    ‘They shamed the chevrons’ is a rich mine of discussion on its own. I walked past the sorry hulk of a Saxo a couple of days ago, and had the thought that it, and the ZX, were somehow truer to the soul of the company than the many whited sepulchres (within full of dead Peugeot’s bones) which this century has brought.

    1. Thanks for speaking up, Stradale and SV.
      I know Richard doesn’t like the ZX, but for me it looks and feels sufficiently French not to be mistaken for a Golf or a Corolla. Citroën’s true nadir came later, namely with the Saxo and the C5.

    2. In retrospect, the ZX shines a bit more. However, I still stick to my proposition that the Citroen feeling is really watered down so as to be subliminal. A more Citroenesque car would not have scared customers away.

  3. I’d like politely (I hope) to disagree. I think the revised Cactus is an improvement, to my untrained eye at least. To me, it looks cleaner, without having lost its key features. It also has some new colours which suit it better, plus there are some significant enhancements to the suspension which should make it ride better; I look forward to the road tests. I’d be interested to to hear why you’re disappointed.

    I don’t think any manufacturer launches a model like the C4 and thinks, “That’ll do”. I suspect it’s more a case of being conservative in a competitive market where failure is severely punished. I think the relative success of the more daring Cactus is quite heartening.

    1. Sorry, I think the revised Cactus compromises a design of real originality in the name of range alignment. I welcome the idea of the cushy seats and innovative dampers, but stylistically, no.

    2. I agree 100%, SV.
      However improved and upgraded the new Cactus may be, let’s not forget that it stands on a supermini platform and still lacks many features that customers liked in the upper parts of the C4 range and which are mandatory in order to sell cars in the C segment.
      Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t shed a tear when I read of the C4’s demise. I’d have liked to see its qualities (and a few more) in a much more convincing package. I did however shed a tear when I saw how the original Cactus design is now diluted.

  4. Looking at the facelifted – can it really be three and a half years? – C4 Cactus, I’m thinking that Linda and Carlos are applying a PSA version of The Fiat Charter, making the mid-term update more ordinary and ‘corporate’. The Cactus isn’t a great car, but before it had a welcome ‘otherness’. I’m convinced there are BMC ADO16 hommages in there, in addition to the 1970MY Austin-Morris colours.

    Nobody’s mentioned the new C3 Aircross. I saw some round the back of the neighbourhood Citroën dealer last week and it looks to have strong appeal to the sort of people who might otherwise favour a Captur or Puke. Carlos has been clever in twinning it with the Opel Crossland X and Peugeot 2008, at a time when you can’t have too many CUVs.

    If the tide turns back to regular hatches without SUV pretensions, they can always re-badge an Astra.

    1. Erudite as usual. The Wikipedia entry on the “The Fiat Charter” explains the origins of this ancient code which has roots in the Milan Guilds’ practice of the 1500s plus its relation to Coptic Christian tenets and, more relevantly, the Roman cult of Mithras. The long-discussed Salic law even has a bearing because of the Bourbon links to southern Italy.

  5. The second generation of the C4 was not that unsuccessful as i was predicting 7 years ago, shocked by its chubby and uninsprated shape without any unique detail. But add the sales of the DS4 to those of the C4 and it has nearly the same sales numbers as its predeccesor – and it will be sold for a longer period and with higher price tags (especially the DS4). Considering that the market of the Golf-segment is shrinking and this C4/DS4 has or had some more opponents in the Citroen range than the first C4, the Cactus, the C3 Picasso, the C-Elysee, the C4 sales numbers are quite decent. And if you still want a convincing compact car from PSA, take the 308 – or the boring Astra.

    I really love the look of the old Cactus too but the transformation into a more normal car is the right decision for Citroen. The original Cactus would have been soon cannibalized by the Aircross, because it is the better car. And regarding the new Cactus as a car of the Golf-hatchback-class, the new Cactus is still an unique offer, but now with more equipment and power.

    So if the new Cactus will offer that magic carpet ride Mrs jackson is promissing, the new Cactus will still be quite irressistible for all addicts of quirky and comfortable cars. And if you are not able to live with the new Cactus-design, buy the old one. Here in germany, the dealers are offering a new (old) Cactus with nearly 40 percent discount. So I don´t see much to complain.

  6. The “Shut the door on your way out, there’s a love” caption made me laugh so much. You do feel like this is what the parting words for that poor car might have been like. I would maybe add “….and thanks for nothing!” since it didn’t exactly set the C-segment alight nor did it give Citroen any meaningful sales numbers.

  7. I had forgotten about this car. It may be that I end up remembering it for being such a vague and indifferent design. A friend of mine rented one. A close look revealed nothing of interest. There was no three door and no estate version. Citroen didn´t make a lot of effort in this, one of the most competitive areas of the market. Citroen turns up for a 5000 m sprint after finishing a 20 pack of unfiltered Gauloise and a metre long baguette caked in Normandy butter.

    1. 😀 It’s Peugeot that coached them for that marathon though. And it was a trap ! I’ve broached the subject here before somewhere but I’am convinced (and incensed quite frankly) that Peugeot torpedoed Citroen’s chances when Citroen came dangerously close to being number 2, ahead of Peugeot, on the French market and had the best range it had in years at the time of the C4 first generation. I know it sounds counter-intuitive for a company to drag one of its brand down but…… here we are. How else would you explain the suddden change in brand strategy and design language when the previous one worked better than anything else in the preceding years with increased sales and the fact that it was, as you noted, given peanuts in terms of variants when the cousin 308 even had a coupé AND a cabriolet on top of the 3dr and estate.

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