There’s a lot to really like about the New Citroen Cactus. It’s been improved upon in so many ways from the previous model, although has this ‘Marmite’ car now lost just some of its originality in this latest design? I don’t think so.
The big dent resistant air bumps prominent features on the original model’s doors have been reduced to mere hard plastic swellings on the lower door with one oddly accentuated in white. The ultra stylish, space-age looking roof rails, so cool on the previous car …solid gone, they said it looked too SUV like. It’s all just more shipshape than before, more sophisticated, neat and tidy. The C4 Cactus lighting is particularly cool with the LED daytime running lights up front and the 3D effect on the rear.
Get into the car and suddenly, it still looks like the designers didn’t just spend the day in the craft store, they completely emptied it. Every touchy-feely texture invented has been found and playfully used in the interior. From the strange polka dot buttons atop the humongous treasure chest of a glovebox to the soft seat materials, to the moulded door rectangles, to the many handy storage places, to the dashboard and the odd shape steering wheel, it’s all there, and it sort of all works in a pleasing, visually competitive kind of way.
Apple carplay or Android Auto combine with a nicely integrated connectivity system all easy to use with your Smartphone. Sending texts on your journey can’t get any better than this. The instruments are slightly borrowed from the early styling or lack of it from sci-fi and computers of old. Big crisp red and white digits, clean and simple, like an old calculator. There are even more choices of customisation for the Cactus, so be ready.
On the road, the clever engineering and design haven’t stopped from making this drive well either. Even with law-abiding speeds being something hard to achieve on our congested roads, Citroen says, ‘comfort is the new cool’. If a cossetted, smooth comfortable ride is your desire in a car, I believe it Cactus has it cracked, pretty well with the suspension using progressive hydraulic cushions, a registered trademark from Citroen. I often take these things with a ‘pincée de sel’, we have heard it quite a few times, but this time it works. The ride on this car is surprisingly good, it works brilliantly with the advanced comfort seats, think along the lines of ultra padded garden furniture and the feeling of chilling in the sunshine. For some used to the convention of other than small French cars, c’est différent.
It drives well too, very light to steer but better than you would think in the handling department. It’s fun to drive, I particularly liked the easy to use cruise control buttons on the steering wheel and all of the driver settings are just so easy to find and use. The model I tested was the Flair Edition with the 110 6-speed auto. This is a 1.2-litre three-cylinder, it’s pretty zippy with a 0.62mph in 9.9 secs and a top speed should you need to hurry of 120mph. The lightness of the car at just 1222Kg helps with this punchy lively feel and the six-speed auto compliments it very well.
On the model I tested, it was also fitted with Citroen’s clever Grip Control (£400), this is a system that uses the (ESP) electronic stability programme, in combination with the fitted mud and snow tyres to maximise any grip available. All clever stuff, not four-wheel drive but with settings for snow, all-terrain or sand. It works pretty wheel in sticky situations but doesn’t bring the extra weight, higher fuel consumption, higher emissions and more tyre wear, as with a full-on four-wheel drive system.
In the boot, it’s surprisingly bigger than you would think with 358 litres seats up and with a real space saver spare wheel, instead of a can of squirty gunk. The rear seats split 60:40 but dropping these frees up a total boot capacity of 1,170 litres.
Clearly, its a bold interpretation for a modern car and the proud Frenchness and originality continues. Two questions I would ask is why the colour palette for the UK is quite so dull, with a name like Cactus and design like this, let’s shout a bit louder with the colour choice and why no passenger mirror on the sun visor.
Not everyone would even dare buy this car. However, you are talking to someone here that bought not one, but two of the strangest, Fiat Multipla from brand new and loved the experience.
The C4 Cactus would be an easy car to live with, it creates a free, relaxed attitude to life, it is certainly worth a test drive, make up your own mind, it may surprise you?
Car reviewed: Citroen C4 Cactus Flair Pure tech 110 6-speed auto on the road price from £22,015 as tested £23,130 0-62mph 9.9secs Top speed 120mph Engine 1199cc 3-cylinder inline turbo petrol Euro 6Dimensions L/W/H mm 4170/1480/1979 Fuel Economy Combined 39.1-44.8mpg CO2 emissions 114-133g/km CO2 Max Power 110bhp@5500rpm Torque 205Nm@1500rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic
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The man from Drive.co.uk
After many, many years of being passionate about cars, spending too much money on cars and too much time driving. I now spend my time running and developing Drive.co.uk and creating a bold expressive new motoring lifestyle website along with some very good writers.
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