- Distinctive looks
- Distinctive looks
- ETG automatic gearbox
The new Citroen C4 Cactus is unlike anything else the firm has released before, and not just because it wears a set of innovative AirBumps. For a start it’s the first Citroen in a long time we’ve been excited to slip behind the wheel of and not leave disappointed at the end of the experience.
Led by chief stylist Mark Lloyd there’s no doubt the design of Citroen’s new Cactus was at the forefront of the French firm’s mind during the planning stages and is just as likely to be a key reason for the car’s success here in the UK.
To our eyes it looks absolutely fantastic, with an air of concept car for the road nothing else like it style that means it stands out on the street and is far more desirable than the value price-tag would suggest. It’s the AirBumps that do it, a sort of plasticised cushion on the car’s flanks like industrial grade bubble-wrap there to protect the bodywork from minor car park grazes and scratches.
Available in four colours, to complement 10 body colour options, the AirBumps took three years to develop fully and Citroen has nine patents on the design and technology.
Design features heavily in the cabin as well, with inspiration coming from comfortable living rooms and travel – the glovebox looks like an expensive suitcase, the door handles are luggage strap-like leather and the front seat can resemble a sofa.
Look hard and you’ll notice some sub-par quality plastics used, but most of those are textured and finely detailed and still look good, while the dashtop itself is pleasantly squidgy. There’s lots of room as well, and even with two individual chairs up front (with the manual gearbox) the Cactus feels plenty wide enough for adults.
There’s lots of room in the rear too, both in terms of head, leg and shoulder room – while the 358-litre boot means the Cactus will happily cope with the rigours of family life.
That said the rear bench is one-piece, so there’s no capacity to increase luggage space while maintaining multiple passenger seats. Still, it’s all part of the firm’s extensive weight-saving program (losing 6Kg in the process) which allows this C4 Cactus to weigh-in at around 200Kg less than the regular Citroen C4.
You can feel that weight-loss on the move as well, as the C4 Cactus possesses genuine agility and nimbleness, despite being a little larger than the firm’s C3 supermini for example. Bumps are simply discarded underneath you, as the C4 Cactus floats over them, and while the soft suspension brings with it some bodyroll it never detracts from the fun behind the wheel.
In fact it feels entirely with the relaxed and chic ethos of the car itself, and you never feel like hurrying the Citroen along, instead taking life at a far more gentle pace.
Six engines and two gearboxes
This is probably a good thing, as none of the engines – or gearbox choices – really allow you to do anything but. The new PureTech three-cylinder petrol models and BlueHDi diesel choices offer nothing more than acceptable to brisk performance, though the range topping 110 PureTech is by far the most willing of all six options.
As you’d expect both the diesels, with either 92bhp or 100bhp with stop/start, are great units, though the quest for weight-saving means engine noise can be a little more noticeable than you’d like.
Unlike the revised Efficient Tronic Gearbox (ETG); this automated manual – rather than a proper automatic – is slow to react and demonstrates a noticeable pause between ratio changes. Pre-empting each change and lifting-off the accelerator as gears are changed helps a bit, but the delay in forward motion is still very much there.
Overall though the Citroen C4 Cactus is an incredibly convincing package, and a real indication that the firm finally knows how to drag itself back into real credibility and profitability. In fact we’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most significant cars in its history; read the full Parkers Citroen C4 Cactus review to find out why we rate it so highly.
What owners say about this car
As a concept this car ticks a few boxes, fuel consumption is good but as always falls well short of... Read owner review
The car drives well. It is spacious inside and I like how it looks - in fact the only thing... Read owner review
The huge boot - easily holds my pram with loads of room to spare. Read owner review