On the road in the Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl

In Car Reviews, Citroen by Tom Scanlan

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Of course, Citroen could not name their new car two years ago the Citroen Airbump, could they? Those lumpy plastic side protectors are what we’re talking about.

Tom Scanlan tears around the country in the C4 Cactus Rip Curl
So ‘Cactus’ it was and why not…people remember that and talk about it; quite clever, really. Citroen have also teamed up with the well know surf brand Rip Curl to create this special edition version.

Since the launch, it’s the HDI 1560cc diesel that has attracted most buyers and, after four hundred and seventy seven miles in the car recently, over a period of a week, it’s understandable.

On offer is a car that attracts no annual road tax, thanks to its low emissions of 95g/km, and a theoretical combined cycle fuel consumption of 80.7 mpg.

It’s gentle 100hp at 3750 rpm has not put buyers off and of course, if they are diesel-savvy, they will know that the 187lb/ft of torque from 1500 rpm is where they will find their true overtaking performance, so typical of diesel engines. The car is by no means sluggish off the mark and can reach 62 mph in 10.6 seconds. Top speed is 114 mph.

My week in the car took in all sorts of traffic conditions and the indicated overall fuel consumption of 61.3 mpg is probably the kind of figure realistically to expect. Surely that is quite acceptable…and you then get a range of up to six hundred miles, and that’s a nice feeling: go to your local fill-up and it’s ‘Hello, stranger, where’ve you been?’

Citroen being Citroen, there are a few unexpected features, or non-features, about the Cactus. For instance, there is no rev-counter; but, to be fair, do we need one? Not really, I suppose. And, although the car has two doors at the sides, the rear window does not wind down, but only hinges open about an inch; then again, why not, if the rear passengers get enough air-flow that way on hot days? And those kids who enjoy chucking things out of the window in other cars, as I witnessed on the M4 recently, are stymied.

The test car had split rear-seats, which are pretty common these days. Also, the rear seat cushions can be easily lifted forward to provide a large and completely flat floor to carry a lot of, or very sizeable, stuff in the back. However, I find myself complaining once again about the complete lack of either a full-size spare wheel or even the lesser offering of a space-saver. There is only one of those puncture repair kits. Call the AA, I say if you’re punctured.

The car proved to be pleasant and easy to drive. The engine is refined, quiet and smooth. This is what is expected of a diesel car these days and, considering that there is at least one prestige marque that does not come up to this standard (as written in November 2016). It also charges £10,000 more for its same-sector model, we can only say ‘well done, Citroen’ or PSA, as its group with Peugeot and DS is encompassed.

The Cactus performs all the basic driving requirements perfectly well: the steering is easy and accurate; the handling is fine, as is the braking in emergency situations and otherwise. Gear changes are slick enough, with a display in the instrument panel letting you know the best point at which to change. This model adds the switchable 5-mode intelligent traction control which offers a more sure footed drive to the Cactus, especially in the winter months.

The ride is comfortable, and perhaps that is something that should be mentioned first — what’s the point of a car that can imitate a race-car, but is plain uncomfortable in the nether regions? (Not of course that the Cactus aim to be king of the track, anyway.)

The C4 Cactus Rip Curl is very well-equipped for the basic price of £19570. Standard features for the Rip Curl version are numerous and enable the car to be very competitive in its sector. For safety, these include ABS, EBD and EBA, and ESC, all of which help keep the car controlled in situations where skidding or slipping is imminent, within the laws of physics of course.

With all of the above and its sporty looks, it’s no great surprise that the Cactus is doing well.

Car reviewed: C4 Cactus Rip Curl BlueHDi 100 S&S manual – On the road £19,570, price as tested £20760, the test car had optional (£495) arctic steel metallic paint and at the (£695) Black Leather & Cloth pack. 0-62mph 10.6 secs Top speed 114mph Manufacturers Fuel Economy combined 80.7mpg CO2 emissions 95g/km Engine 1560cc 4 cylinder in-line Max Power 100hp@3750rpm Torque 245Nm@1500rpm Transmission 6-speed manual

  • Good fuel economy

  • Low emissions

  • Very well equipped

  • Love it or hate it looks

About the author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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