COULD the quirky Citroen C4 Cactus – one of the most unconventionally styled cars on the Australian market – be about to lose one of its defining features?
Media reports have suggested the compact Cactus could lose its AirBumps – the replaceable plastic panels inserted into the door skins that help them hold up to supermarket bumps and scrapes – as part of an upcoming makeover of the small hatchback.
British motoring mag AutoExpress reckons a chat it had with Citroen chief executive Linda Jackson suggested a mid-life spritz for the Cactus will include the shift to a more conventional look that will pull it into line with the recently launched C3 Aircross – revealed earlier this month as a crossover-styled, highly customisable hatchback – and the larger, SUV-styled C5 Aircross revealed in April.
The Cactus – a rival here to the likes of the strong-selling Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport and the Toyota C-HR – was a late arrival to Australia, landing here in early 2016 but a couple of years behind going on sale overseas.
A fun little package with either a diesel engine fitted to a robotised six-speed manual gearbox, or as a petrol engine in front of a five-speed manual, it was shortlisted for the 2017 Wheels Car of the Year Award where it was described as a brilliant example of how to fuse form and function – even if the robotised manual gearbox feels as though the engine is being punched in the guts between shifts.
That hasn’t translated into sales; in the first five months of this year Citroen has sold just 32 of the C4 Cactus hatches, well down on the 103 sales it had snared in the same period last year.
As yet, Citroen hasn’t released any clues as to drivetrain changes for the updated Cactus, although other models in the PSA family – including the Peugeot 208 and 2008 – use the Cactus’ PureTech engine with an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission.
Should it jump to a conventional auto, an auto petrol variant could do much for sales of the currently manual-only petrol Cactus.