What is it? Citroën has never shied away from making a statement when it comes to car design, from the iconic 2CV to the original DS unveiled in 1955 through the decades there has been some truly innovative designs. And if you thought quirky Citroën design was a thing of the past along comes the C4 Cactus.
Who is it aimed at? The name may evoke images of a sandy desert but the natural habitat of Citroën’s new C4 Cactus is the supermarket car park. The distinctive plastic panels fixed to the doors, known as Airbumps, are to protect from bangs and dents to doors caused by wayward supermarket trolleys so it makes an ideal small family car.
Styling? Part hatchback part crossover the semi-raised ride height, wheel arch protection, short overhangs and roof bars give the Cactus a very distinctive look.
Under the Bonnet?Our test car was powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine, the engine most likely to be the bestseller.
What about inside? Slip behind the wheel and it is comfortable with beautifully cosseting seats. Look closely at the dash and the lack of a rev counter suggests this is not a car for setting scorching lap times at the Nurburgring but rather a comfortable cruiser that is all about practical family motoring. Head-turning exterior looks are matched by an equally funky and good-looking interior packed with clever smart touches such as the suitcase-effect straps on the glovebox, uncluttered floating dash and the sofa-like seats. The boot is a generous 358-litre capacity, expandable to 1,170-litres with the rear seats folded.
On the Road?On the road the light steering makes the Citroën easy to manoeuvre and park, while the soft suspension soaks up big bumps well. On the downside there is noticeable body roll through corners and the amount of road and wind noise that reaches the cabin is disappointing but overall it is a very easy and nice car to drive.
And Safety? All the basics are included and there’s a total of six airbags along with traction control and Electronic Stability Control. The Cactus achieved four stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests and an adult safety rating of 82 per cent, while also scoring 80 per cent for pedestrian protection.
Options? There is a range of petrol and diesel to choose from. Three trim levels are offered with increasing levels of goodies,Touch, Feel and Flair and prices start from €17,795 rising to €23,845.
Economy? To keep the price and weight down everything inside the Cactus is as simple as possible. There are no electric seats and the steering wheel is adjustable for height but not reach and even the optional panoramic glass sun roof doesn’t have a sun blind because it would add weight. The results are impressive and the Cactus is 200kg lighter than an equivalent C4 and should cost about 20 percent less to run than small-family rivals. The 1.6 engine promises an incredibly healthy average of up to 3.1l/100k m (91mpg) and CO2 emissions are just 89g/km.
Verdict? With concept car styling, the C4 Cactus is what Citroën do best and it is a bold response to the changing needs of families. It is extremely cheap to run, looks great and is easy to drive. Comfortable; cool and clever the Cactus is the one to go for if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Why you’ll buy one? Stylish good looks; economy; quirky
Why you won’t? Can be noisy at low speeds; Drive won’t set your heart alight
Renault Captur – priced from €19,390
Peugeot 2008 – priced from €18,595
Watch our video review below (Video Filming by Kyran O’Brien)
Citroën C4 Cactus BlueHDi 100
Engine: 1560cc , 100bhp
Max speed: 10.7 seconds
0-100 kph: 183kph
Emissions (Motor Tax) : 89 g/km (€180)
Model price range: €17,795 – €23,845.
No of Doors: 5 doors
Euro NCAP : 4 stars
Fuel type: Diesel
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 3.1 l/100km
Boot Capacity Seats up(down) : 358 litres (1170)
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings in the rear
Wheelbase: 2595 mm
A version of this article, by the author, appeared previously in the Sunday Independent
22nd October, 2014