Home / Auto / Citroen C4 Cactus REVIEW – New car is all style and no substance

Citroen C4 Cactus REVIEW – New car is all style and no substance


Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

The only problem is that such innovations, while favoured aesthetically, haven’t always been favoured critically or in terms of pure sales.

Sometimes those individual models fly out of showrooms, such as the likes of the Skoda Yeti or Nissan Qashqai, but with others, like this Citroen C4 Cactus, the result isn’t as successful.

While we enjoyed the Cactus and its overall concept when it was introduced in 2014, it wasn’t without issues.

If it wasn’t its oddball looks and those Airbumps mounted in the doors, it was other peculiarities; like the fact that, despite being a family car, the rear windows only popped out and didn’t lower properly while the interior featured a small flat screen rather than normal dials.

Despite the frequent lament that “all cars look the same nowadays”, buyers stayed away. So it’s no surprise that this facelifted Cactus has been diluted somewhat.

Those Airbumps are all but non-existent and the overall styling is far easier on the eye with the helpful addition of a number of cues borrowed from Citroen’s Aircross models.

Enthusiasts might lament some of the changes but there’s no doubt that it’s become more friendly to mainstream buyers.

This Puretech 110 gets the firm’s brilliant three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo-petrol, too.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

With 110bhp it can get from 0 to 60mph in 9.4 seconds and onto a 117mph top speed, while returning a 62.8mpg average fuel economy and 104g/km emissions.

We’ve had plenty of experience of this superb engine from other models in the Peugeot-Citroen range and it’s no less good here.

The off-beat three-cylinder warble gives a great soundtrack to your progress and, while there’s no rev counter, you can easily judge your gear-changing aurally.

It’s also a credit to the engine’s flexibility that you don’t miss a sixth gear on the five-speed manual gearbox.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

Despite the Citroen’s reasonable pace and that great engine though, this isn’t a car that you’re ever likely to drive with much enthusiasm.

Its predecessor was hardly much of a driver’s car and this is even further away from that with all-new suspension and a very different outlook, set-up and feel.

Clearly engineered for comfort, there’s more body roll than you might be expecting but there’s also a lot more suppleness.

It’s not a car you’re going to be cornering on its door handles but it does soak up far more road imperfections and potholes before they come through into the cabin than you might imagine.

It might not suit those more used to a firmer ride and a more direct feel but this new direction for the Cactus offers a refreshing alternative choice (ironically, one of its core concepts anyway).

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

What hasn’t changed though, are some of the Citroen’s original shortcomings that, given that this is a facelift, still haven’t been improved.

So there’s still a fairly spartan interior with plenty of hard plastic.

We like design touches such as the leather strap on the glovebox on top of the dashboard in front of the passenger but others don’t work so well.

Ergonomically though, the Cactus remains a bit of a mess with two screens instead of a traditional instrument binnacle.

As mentioned, there’s no rev counter and not all the typefaces match but the biggest issue for taller drivers will be the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel, making it hard to find an entirely comfortable driving position.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

There are other anomalies, such as the rear windows that still just pop out – a purchase decider right there for anyone with car sick children. Despite Cactus’s improved looks, it’s pretty unlikely to turn on potential buyers.

We love the fact that the Cactus exists and that it represents something different in an increasingly crossover-dominated market.

But many of the issues with the original Cactus remain and are hard to rectify in a simple facelift such as this.

And that, ultimately, makes it hard to recommend for many, especially when there’s the C3 Aircross and the forthcoming new C5 Aircross also in the showroom.

Flair and individualism are all well and good but there still needs to be substance to back up the style.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus (Image: CITROEN)

LOGBOOK LOWDOWN

Model: Citroen C4 Cactus Puretech 110

Price: from £19,990

Engine: Turbo-petrol – 1.2-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 9.4 seconds, 117mph top speed

Average fuel economy: 62.8mpg

CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Rivals: Kia Niro, Seat Ateca, VW Golf SV

Rating: 6/10



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