Citroen Cactus

Soft not prickly.

 

   Citroen: A car manufacturer that, when it comes to design, has never been afraid to think out of the four-wheeled box. They’re the people who brought you the Traction Avant, the automotive icon that was the original DS, the H-Van, and probably most famously of all, the 2CV. Idiosyncratic just doesn’t do them justice.

   More recently though under parent company Peugeot, Citroens have been , lets say,  a little lack-lustre; their offerings little more than restyled 308s and such-like. That distinctive Je-nais-se-quoi that made them so revered by the faithful has been well and truly missing; their motoring mojo seemingly lost.

    One look the new Citroen Cactus however, is all it takes to know it’s been well and truly re-discovered. The Cactus is a car like no other. Size-wise it’s similar in stature to a cross-over or one of the smaller SUVs that more are so often seen on the school-run. Yet it lacks the weight.  It sits higher than a conventional hatchback and it’s roomier and more practical too. Yet starting at £12,990 it’s priced to compete alongside them.

     Outside it’s covered in “Airbumps”, rubberised chocolate block-like side panels that protect the paintwork from the day-to-day knocks and scrapes that go hand-in–hand with family orientated transport. They give the impression that the Cactus has been armour plated, but in certain guises, the Cactus weighs-in at under a tonne.  Perhaps they’re actually bubble-wrap?

    That light weight - to which an extensive use of aluminium is key, - allows the Cactus to utilise smaller engines. As a result it’s lighter on fuel, and it feels lighter on its feet (oh ok, wheels) too. It also emits fewer nasty gasses. Even the windscreen washers have been designed to be more efficient.  A smaller, and therefore lighter, bottle is all that’s needed.

    Inside, further weight saving features include hinged, pop-out rear windows rather than wind-down ones, a thermally insulated full-length panoramic sunroof that’s removes need for a heavy separate blind, and a one piece folding rear seat, no 60:40 splits to be found here.

      Then there’s the dashboard, probably the Catus’s most defining internal feature. There are no dials and the passenger airbag is mounted in the roof! A large central touch screen takes care of all of the controls for the air-con, navigation, entertainment, Bluetooth the trip computer – it also displays the view from the rear-view camera, - while another smaller tablet-like display in front of the driver displays the speed. It makes for a well equipped, virtually button and clutter free environment, the only downside being having to swipe out of one screen and into another in order to turn the heating up.

    Still, at least the slightly seventies-looking faux leather door handle and glove-box straps are attractive, plus that “Airbump” motive is carried over onto the upholstery on the seats, which despite appearing a touch flat prove to be surprisingly comfy.

    If the overall design is unusual, then the driver experience is anything but. You sit upright, slightly elevated and long-armed as there’s no reach adjustment for the steering, the view of the road ahead near panoramic. The ride is supple, the performance adequate, the steering light, and the gear-change… well, that feels almost as rubbery as those “Airbumps”. But the Cactus is a Citroen afte rall, what exactly did you expect?

Citroen’s latest is as quirky as the best of them. The Cactus is very welcome return to form.

 

 

Citroen C4 Cactus Flair Blue HDi 100

 

Engine: 1560cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 5 Speed Manual, front wheel drive.

Power:  100 bhp @ 3750 rpm

Torque: 187 lbft @ 1750 rpm

0-62MPH: 10.7 Sec

Max Speed: 114 mph

CO2: 89g/km

MPG: 83.1 combined

Price: £17,990 (Car driven £20,360)

 

Many thanks to Citroen’s UK press office for the loan of their C4 CACTUS

 

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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