Citroen: 2015 C4 Cactus review

Citroen: 2015 C4 Cactus review

How do you differentiate yourself in a crowded market? Citroen has decided to attach two oversized pill packets to the flanks of the Cactus and market them as a defence mechanism like a real cactus would have spikes. They’ll protect your paintwork against errant shopping trolleys and inconsiderate door-openers.

Citroen Cactus 2015 frontWhile they add an air of ruggedness this isn’t backed up by any other styling or practicality such as a raised ride height or four-wheel drive. 

Forgetting the Airbumps, the external design is very progressive. I really like the 17-inch alloy wheels and the front headlights which are evil slivers in a Citroen Cactus 2015 rearchunky nose. The roof rack design is modern and it gives almost a crossover-style profile. There are 21 body combinations you can choose from.

The interior is a triumph of clean and consistent design – one of the best you will find under $100,000, and it reminds me of the kind of design ethos that you would find in a Lotus or TVR, Citroen Cactus 2015 sidealbeit with more plastics.

It’s completely uncluttered with knobs, dials and switches, instead relying on two large screens to display information and control functions.

The central screen – a seven-inch Citroen Cactus 2015 front interiortouchscreen – is used to control audio, phone connection, satellite navigation, reversing camera, air conditioning and vehicle settings, while the screen in front of you displays the kind of information you’d usually expect in an instrument cluster, although there’s no rev counter.

There’s no gearstick either. Buttons with D, R and N replace it, while Citroen Cactus 2015 gear buttonspaddles behind the steering wheel give you control over changing gears if you need it. These paddles are fixed in position, the same as in race cars, which is far more convenient than how other manufacturers have the paddles move with the steering wheel.

The driver’s seat is wide and spacious Citroen Cactus 2015 rear seatsand the driving position was comfortable despite there being no reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

Citroen says that the C4 Cactus weighs 200kg less than the C4, something that’s achieved by the use of an aluminium bonnet, low-capacity engine and rear windows that pop out rather than wind down.

This contributes to the Citroen’s strongest hand: its fuel economy. The diesel model claims 3.6l/100km while in our tested petrol model I achieved 5.4l/100km average.

This is helped by the stop/start technology which is far too aggressive in its execution, stopping before you’ve actually stopped and making driving in very slow traffic extremely annoying. In the end, every time I got in the car I turned it off.

With its low fuel economy and 81kW 1.2-litre turbo petrol-powered motor, the sprint to 100kph is never going to be fast and its overtaking performance is better than its off-the-mark performance.

The driving dynamics are pretty average, to be honest. There’s plenty of rubber in the tyres, so it’s not bumpy, but it wanders and fidgets over the road all the time meaning you are constantly correcting its course and that makes a longer journey very tiring.

The Cactus is only 4.16m long and 1.73m wide but manages to pack a lot into the wheelbase. It’s easy to park and manoeuvre in tight city car park spaces.

For me, the Citroen misses the mark. It seems like something a guy would design for females, but without asking them.

The panels are said to be a convenience in the rough and tumble of the supermarket car park, but there are no bag hooks to make storing shopping convenient, the rear seat is one whole piece rather than split folding, and what if that trolley misses the Airbumps?

The user interface is simply dangerous – you have to take your eyes off the road to do literally anything. Then we have the problem of the gearbox which combines the worst of automatic and manual. I lost count of the number of times that traffic behind me closed up unexpectedly closely while the Citroen took multiple seconds to swap cogs.

This car would be so much better with a DSG-type gearbox. The instructions are to ‘lift off’ when the Cactus changes gear, but drivers should not be expected to have to do this when no other automatic gearbox requires it.

Finally, is the Cactus going to have longevity? It’s a bold styling move to place these Airbump panels on the side – kind of a nod to the faux wooden panels of old American station wagons like the Chevrolet Caprice.

We’ve seen that people don’t mind buying cars which the majority might find visually challenging – the Nissan Juke, for example, sells quite well.

Let’s look at its strengths: the Cactus is ridiculously frugal, and you can frequently see instant economy figures in the high 3l/100km range while you are cruising. Compare this to something like a Honda Civic and you’ll be amazed.

There’s also the lidded glovebox which is so much better than a conventional glovebox –all manufacturers should adopt this, but then they would all have to adopt Citroen’s very clever idea of the roof-mounted airbag.

Overall it’s a flawed proposition; something you’re going to buy because you want to have some uniqueness and you like the look, but not because you enjoy driving.

Price: $33,990

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Feels spacious – plenty of elbow, leg and headroom
  • Excellent interior design

Cons

  • Slow gearbox
  • No split folding rear seats
  • Lots of issues with usability.
  • Needs continual corrections when driving


Words and photos:
« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
MazdaCX3
German honours for Mazda

Mazda scooped three German design awards at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week. The company’s flowing ‘kodo’ design language has...

Close