2016 Citroen C4 Cactus Range Review

Citroen’s quirky C4 Cactus is a personality-filled small SUV that proves compact wagons need not be dull

Citroen C4 Cactus
6.4/10Score
Score breakdown
8.0
Safety, value and features
8.0
Comfort and space
4.0
Engine and gearbox
6.0
Ride and handling
6.0
Technology
Things we like
  •   Cheeky, unique styling
  •   Great cabin design and quality
  •   Class-leading fuel economy
  •   Six-year warranty
Not so much
  •   No automatic petrol available
  •   Clunky semi-auto transmission
  •   No wind-down rear windows

What stands out?

The styling! You won’t miss the Citroen C4 Cactus in your shopping centre car park. The Airbumps on the doors and bumpers are soft-touch and designed to absorb minor impacts, and you choose from four colours. This small SUV also has a charming and roomy cabin, and excellent petrol and diesel engines.

What might bug me?

The lack of an automatic petrol model.

The clunky semi-automatic transmission in the diesel model.

The lack of reach adjustment for the steering column.

No automatic opening/closing for the driver’s side window.

Only a single USB port.

The pop-out rear windows: they only open a few centimetres, and don’t roll down.

No rear air-vents in the second row.

What body styles are there?

Five-door SUV/wagon only. Every C4 Cactus is front-wheel drive; petrol models come exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox; diesel models are available only with an automatic.

What features do all versions have?

Only one trim level is offered, with a relatively basic specification compared to similarly-priced vehicles. For instance, there are no power-operated windows in the rear doors – just a pop-out section of glass.

That said, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, LED daytime running lamps, tinted rear windows and the Cactus’ distinctive “Airbump” body protection are all standard.

There’s black cloth upholstery and manually-adjustable seats, though a 7.0-inch touchscreen display with satellite navigation is standard. The screen also controls the air conditioning and the AM/FM/DAB audio system.

Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming is also standard, and external music players can be connected via a USB port. A 12V power socket is mounted in the boot, helpful if you need to power a portable fridge on long journeys.

Cruise control, a digital instrument panel and steering wheel mounted audio controls provided added driver convenience.

The Cactus is covered by a six-year unlimited kilometre warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance for that period.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The Cactus literally comes with 23,184 customisation options, according to Citroen.

The Cactus is offered in a choice of 10 colours, with the standard Blanc Banquise (white) the only colour that does not cost extra.

For the exterior body colour, there’s also Noir Obsidien (black); Gris Shark (gunmetal); Rouge Aden (red); Gris Aluminium (silver); Blanc Perle Nacre (metallic white); Olive Brown; Hello Yellow; Deep Purple and Blue Lagoon (aqua).

Then there’s a choice of colours for the ‘Airbumps’. In addition to the standard Black Airbump, there’s also Dune (a sandy colour), Grey and also Chocolate Airbump colours. These colours come at an additional cost.

Not all Airbump colours are available with every exterior colour . Only Black Airbumps are available with everybody colour.

You can also option black alloy wheels; pay extra for white roofrails instead of black; option ‘Cactus’ lettering in an array of colours on the rear pillar; or choose from a number of colours for the mirror caps.

There are six interior colour combinations to choose from. Three of these are leather; three are cloth.

A Panoramic sunroof that’s thermally insulated to filter 99.9 percent of UV rays, according to Citroen. The car maker says that this means it will not heat up the cabin, and subsequently doesn’t need a physical sunshade to maintain a comfortable temperature or prevent sunburn.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

How comfortable is it?

The Cactus is a very comfortable SUV. Its front ‘sofa’ seats have plenty of adjustment, and are wide and supportive. In the driver’s seat, the lack of reach adjustment may compromise the driving position for taller drivers, but there’s plenty of head, leg and shoulder room. The controls are within easy reach, with the cruise control, audio and phone systems operated via the steering wheel buttons.

In the diesel, the automatic has shift-paddles, but even selecting drive is easily done by a push-button ‘D’ on the dash.

The second row is also spacious, with excellent seats. A downside here, though, is a lack of air-vents, as well as pop-out windows.

In terms of storage, there’s an excellent 8.5-litre glovebox in the front dash, as well as generous door bins throughout and map pockets in the front seatbacks. The boot, too, is 358 litres, making it one of the larger sized in its class. It’s also a very practical, easy opening to load the cargo area as well. A 60:40 fold rear seat adds to its versatility.

On the road, the ride is comfortable, especially at slow speed. Both engines are refined, and the cabin is very well insulated from road noise, too.

What about safety?

The Cactus comes with six airbags: drivers, passengers, front side airbags as well as curtain airbags.

It also comes with ABS, ESC and Emergency Brake Assistance (EBA). The EBA does not bring the Cactus to a complete stop, but does apply additional braking force in the event of an emergency braking situation. It will also flash the hazards during an emergency stop.

Two ISOFIX top-tether child-seat anchorage points are standard.

A 15-inch spare wheel on all models, as well as a tyre-pressure monitoring system, means that the Cactus will not be forced onto a speed-limited spacesaver spare if it suffers a puncture. Nor will you have an accident as a tyre deflates, as the monitoring system will alert you to the problem.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has not tested the Citroen C4 Cactus. It’s not eligible for a five-star safety rating, as it is not offered with Autonomous Emergency Braking, even as an option.

A left-hand drive Cactus has been tested by the Euro New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) and given a four-star safety rating. It was rated poorly in the Safety Assist are of the assessment.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Yes. The Cactus is fun to drive, especially the petrol model. Its thrummy three cylinders’ cheerful note matches the cheeky verve of the Cactus and is a competent, strong engine that rarely feels out of breath. Its five-speed manual gearbox has a light-weight shift action, the clutch pedal is not overly heavy and the steering is also well-weighted for good manoeuvrability.

The four-cylinder turbo-diesel has more torque, so is the stronger of the two engines, but its semi-automatic means that smooth, comfortable and engaging drive is not on the cards.

How is life in the rear seats?

How is it for carrying stuff?

The Cactus has a 358-litre boot, which is far bigger than the boot in the most popular car in this class, the Mazda CX-3, which has a 254-litre boot. Still, the Jeep Renegade (525L), Honda HR-V (437L) and the Peugeot 2008 (410L) can all boast larger cargo areas.

As well as this, the Cactus has a 60:40 split-fold rear seat. The base of the rear seat does not fold, so it’s not as practical as the flat-folding ‘Magic Seats’ in the Honda HR-V, for example.

Where is it made?

The Citroen C4 Cactus is manufactured in Spain.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

The Cactus doesn’t have an auto-up driver’s side window, nor wind-down rear windows. It also doesn’t offer a petrol automatic like most of its rivals, nor a proper automatic diesel model.

It also misses out on safety equipment such as Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Neither diesel nor petrol models come with a tachometer.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

Are there plans to update this model soon?

6.4/10Score
Score breakdown
8.0
Safety, value and features
8.0
Comfort and space
4.0
Engine and gearbox
6.0
Ride and handling
6.0
Technology
Things we like
  •   Cheeky, unique styling
  •   Great cabin design and quality
  •   Class-leading fuel economy
  •   Six-year warranty
Not so much
  •   No automatic petrol available
  •   Clunky semi-auto transmission
  •   No wind-down rear windows

 

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