Citroen C4 1.2 PureTech  Shine 5dr
It's meant to be soft and easeful. As French and squidgy and soothing as creme patissiere.
And it pretty well is. The springs are soft enough, and the middle of the dampers relaxed enough, that coarse tarmac and concrete motorways don't set up vibes. And it takes the sharp edges off surface changes.
But it uses the travel well when faced with bigger hits from buckled B-roads. It rises and falls gently, low-flying over the surface, operating at its own easy-breathing frequency rather than panting or shuddering with the road itself.
Which could mean a similarly squidgy steer. Not so, not at least if you settle into its ways. Don't jab at the wheel: just pour the car between bends to let the roll angles build. Then you find it can be guided surprisingly precisely, even when a lumpy road is doing its best to knock you off course.
It also cleaves to its motorway lane well. Previous 'advanced comfort' Citroens had a habit of wobbling side-to-side at speed.
We tested two versions, a petrol auto and the electric. The 250kg-odd difference in mass actually makes little difference to handling and ride because the battery is of course in the floor and between the wheels, and the suspension rates are compensated.
The petrol engine, a three-cylinder 1.2-litre here in 130bhp form feels, as in all its applications, like it's on your side, and quiet unless you really rev its heart out.
The autobox too acts just like it does on other Citroens and Peugeots: annoyingly. It's sluggish in taking up the drive out of junctions, so you open the throttle a bit more and it catapults off in sound and fury. It doesn't like coming smoothly to rest either. And you'd think you'd have enough ratios as it's an eight speed, but unfortunately those eight are first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th.
I'm not saying the petrol engine is laggy. Or that, at least once into its third gear, the autobox isn't smooth, not by normal standards.
But step across, in an otherwise identical car, to electric drive and the difference is remarkable.
It just does what you expect. And when. And quietly. Call it characterless if you like, but don't call it ineffective. At low-to-medium speeds its torque and instant reactions overcome its battery's weight and make it feel nippier than the 9.0-second 0-62 would suggest.
But it isn't so eager to reach outside-lane speeds and like any EV depletes its battery quickly when you get there. There's a B mode for one-pedal driving, and it's a gently relaxed calibration. Note you have to be in Sport mode to get full power. Normal is less, and Eco is notably less.
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