C4 Explodes onto Thai Market
One of the things I noticed first about Thai roads after I recovered my senses during the first cab ride from the Airport, was the lack of hatchbacks. At first I assumed this was due to market forces and assumed that the market simply didn't want hatchbacks at all. There are a few exceptions such as the old Honda Civic Hatch, but by and large hatchbacks have never been popular here, as they have been in the UK and Europe.
But now the Honda Jazz bucked the trend and shown that, if priced competitively, the hatch can be a popular choice. Perhaps now the way has been paved for the hatch to take a footing in the Thai market.
The Mazda 3 is available in five-door hatchback form, and the recently released Ford Focus will also have a hatchback option. Although the Focus is marketed as a "European" the most interesting European hatches are only starting to appear. Citroen's C4 is one such car, and when it starts to appear on Bangkok roads in the next few months it will serve to relieve some of the monotony of the current crop of Japanese and German cars available here.
Regardless of whether you love or hate the looks of the C4, and I think it is a car you will love or hate, you will agree that it will at least make a change from the rather bland Japanese sedans which currently dominate. I have not been able to find reliable looking pricing for this car yet, but according to the Bangkok Post the car will be 1.82 million baht for the 1.6 liter 3 door. That looks about right given the relivent pricing of the C3 and C5 already available in Thailand. However, the price for the 2 liter 5 door version of the C4 is listed at 1.496 million. I suspect that this should actually be 2.496 million!
With this sort of pricing sales volumes will be low. In Europe these are not luxury brand cars. Citroen and Peugeot cars are market as luxury cars here in Thailand because they need to try and compete with BMW and Merc and Volvo since that's the price range that their cars fall into over here. In Europe the C4 would be priced more favorably to compete with the Toyota Corolla and other mass market cars.
In Thailand however, fully-built-up imports like the C4 suffer badly from excise tax rates imposed by the Government and are simply unattractive as a result. At 2.5 million Baht, the new BMW 3 series would be be hard to overlook and I suspect that only a few wishing to stand out from the crowd will even think about buying a C4. And for the 1.8 for the 1.6, you could buy a Honda Jazz and a Honda Accord, or a Toyota Altis and two of the little Vios machines, or a Fortuner and a top model Vigo pickup. You get the idea. A logical, reasonable person will not buy a C4 in Thailand at these prices.
Having said that it does have some interesting features and is by no means a bad car. Wining many awards in europe including British Car of the Year (Auto Express) and Britain's Best Hatchback (Top Gear Magazine). It's also been awarded a full 5-star rating on the Euro NCAP safety test. It also enjoys features such as an innovative fixed center steering wheel which houses controls for radio, cruse control, mobile telephone, on-board computer and the navigation system. This might sound like a gimmick, but according to Citroen it also serves to provide better safety since the airbag is maintained in a stationary position for optimum deployment during an accident.
Besides, for many people logic and rational thinking don't factor into the equation when it comes to car-purchasing decisions. Despite it's unattractive pricing expect to start seeing the dynamically stylish and refreshingly different C4 appearing on Thai roads soon, but unfortunately it's sighting will be a rare occurrence.