Always striving to go against the grain, Citroën is returning to the C-segment hatchback segment with a car that borrows a fair few SUV cues. Replacing the C4 Cactus, the new C4 isn’t quite as distinctive as its out-there predecessor, but it still has a few quirks of its own.

Externally, the car adopts a sloping rear windscreen inspired by the 1970s GS, with a mildly-raised 156 mm ground clearance that is said to give the car a higher driving position than the competition. It measures 4,360 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,525 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,670 mm.

At the front, the C4 gets a striking look thanks to the dual-tier LED headlights and a V-shaped daytime running light graphic – an arrangement that is repeated in the tail lights. Along the side, the Cactus’ innovative Airbumps have been reduced to just one and now only “suggest” protection, although the black plastic body cladding will still hide minor damage from low-speed impacts.

Moving to the rear, the spoiler, which balances the sweeping tailgate, also splits the rear windscreen into two sections – a look that Citroën says is reminiscent of the original C4 Coupé. Here, you’ll find fake twin vents that have been lifted from the C5 Aircross.

Compared to the eccentric exterior, the inside is about as conventional as they come, with a wide horizontal dashboard and a typical freestanding infotainment display. Look closely and you’ll spot a chevron pattern on the dash, while the Advanced Comfort seats get new fabric designs. The steering wheel also has a flat bottom and top and features new paddle shifters on automatic models – which also receive a diminutive guilloched metal electronic gear selector.

One interesting new feature is the retractable Dashboard Tray, which can be used to fit a Smart Pad Support tablet mount – although quite how it could be used without interfering with the passenger airbag remains to be seen. You can also get the car with a panoramic sliding sunroof, a head-up display, a Qi wireless smartphone charger, a dashcam and the company’s first-ever heated steering wheel and windscreen.

The car’s displays consist of a digital instrument cluster and a 10-inch capacitive infotainment touchscreen, equipped with navigation, an emergency call and assistance service and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The climate controls, previously integrated into the touchscreen, have thankfully now been separated into individual physical knobs. The boot, meanwhile, measures 380 litres and can be expanded to 1,250 litres by folding the rear seats down.

Safety features on offer include autonomous emergency braking, post-collision braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-centring assist, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam. Parking assist and a rear camera are also available.

Citroën says it has paid particular attention to the new C4’s refinement, with engine bay insulation and several measures to reduce road and wind noise. Like its predecessor, the car also comes with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions in its dampers to absorb bumps at the extremes of suspension travel.

Engines include the 1.2 litre PureTech turbocharged three-cylinder petrol in 100 hp, 130 hp and 155 hp variants, as well as a 1.5 litre BlueHDi four-pot turbodiesel with 110 hp or 130 hp. Both mills can be had either with a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic, depending on the model.

For the first time on a regular Citroën passenger car, the C4 can be had as an all-electric model. The ë-C4, as it is called, is powered by a 136 hp/260 Nm electric motor that will get it from zero to 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 150 km/h. A 50 kWh lithium-ion battery provides a WLTP-rated range of 350 km, and there’s also a one-pedal driving mode similar to the Nissan Leaf.

Charging takes seven and a half hours with a single-phase AC wall box or five hours with an optional 11 kW three-phase wall box. Fast charging through a 100 kW DC public charging station will add ten kilometres of range every minute, filling the battery to 80% in just 30 minutes. The ë-C4 also gets special 18-inch alloy wheels to reduce vibration, making for an even quieter drive.