The C4 Cactus is Citroen’s newest, quirkiest addition to its French fleet. The innovative and funky Cactus is basically a cotton-wool wrapped bubble car. It features rubber air-pillows, known as AirBumps, on the side and front of the car to protect against pesky paint-chipping, metal denting dings. Quirky design features like these really sets the Cactus apart from the rest of the ever-growing compact SUV market.
But there’s more to the Cactus than just a concept-like quirks and slapstick names. The new Citroen also offers spaciousness, fuel efficiency, decent handling and refinement. There’s plenty to love about the Cactus. The question is: will Australians embrace its quirky features or cast it aside like a prickly gimmick.
- If cars could walk the red carpet at the Met Gala, the Citroen C4 Cactus would hog the spotlight. Design is the best and the worst feature of the French-owned compact SUV. Like a couture fashion show that wows some and leaves other’s scratching their heads, the Cactus merges sophistication with eccentricities. There’s something appealing about the lack of symmetry in its design, and yet it leaves it vulnerable in aspects of practicality.
- There’s plenty of interior space in the Cactus. The back seat has the width to fit three grown men, although leg space is a bit tight. Its cargo space is sizable at 358 litres when compared to some of its competitors.
- The sofa-like seats of the Cactus offer surprisingly supple cushioning for the tush. The wide seats are a nice homage to cars of old.
- Like a succulent that doesn’t need much water, the Cactus isn’t a thirsty car. Citroen claims a fuel efficiency of 4.7L/100km, but our real-world testing came in a bit higher than that. Still, 7.0L/100km driving up windy mountain roads, along highways and over bumpy country streets is still pretty decent.
- There’s not a lot of mechanical variety. Citroen offers only a manual 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol engine, or an automatic 1.6-litre four cylinder diesel. It’s a strange decision by the French automaker. Given the current market skew towards automatic, however, Citroen would surely have its sights set on an automatic petrol option in the future.
- The Cactus’s quirky design does have some consequences. There are no rear air-vents and it has commercial car-like pop-out windows instead of modern-day wind-down windows. There are no back-seat pockets and while physical space is a Cactus strength, there’s not a lot of storage options.
- For the most part, the petrol engine in the manual is quiet, but there wind-noise and tyre-noise can be an issue in the back seats. From the front it’s not overly noticeable.
- Finding a comfortable driving position is not easy – another downside of the funky design perhaps. The steering wheel doesn’t sit centre of the driver’s seat, which makes it hard to find the right positioning to drive the manual.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER?
The Fiat 500X is an alternative to the Cactus if you’re after something a little less head-turning, but still want that unique café-style. Buyers looking for more of a tough, SUV feel will benefit from looking at the Jeep Renegade. And those looking for the Cactus, minus the design fads, should book themselves in for a test drive of the Honda HR-V.