A Cactus that gives you Airbumps

A Cactus that gives you Airbumps

Citroens quirky new C4 Cactus crossover which has just launched here, offers New Zealand buyers the opportunity to buy a vehicle that can become a true extension of their personality.

Two engines are offered, one a 81kW Puretech Euro 6 turbocharged petrol three-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission and the other is a e-HDi 68kW Euro 5 four-cylinder turbo diesel with a six-speed automated single clutch transmission, which Citroen refers to as ETG6.

The petrol C4 Cactus is priced from $33,990 plus on road costs while the diesel version is a $2000 step up at $35,990 plus on road costs.

It’s a rugged looking urban warrior thanks to those unique ‘Airbumps’ which guard the doors, as well as the front, and rear lamps, from miscreant supermarket trolleys and parking dings, as well as the standard black gloss roof rail package, coupled with the rugged looking plastic wheel arch extensions, but least you get excited about any potential off-road capability, the C4 Cactus remains firmly a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

But the vehicle isn’t just another faux-SUV dreamed up by a bunch of cynical automotive marketers trying to milk the current exodus from traditional sedans and wagons into higher-riding crossovers, there are some genuine innovations that show Citroen is firmly reaching back into its back catalogue of trying to combine function with design.

The front passenger airbag has been transferred from its usual position in the dashboard into the roof, creating more room and storage space. It will be interesting to see if Citroen extends it’s Airbag in Roof technology to other vehicles in its product portfolio.

Inside the cabin the C4 Cactus offers a fully digital, intuitive interface which it says offers an airy and connected driving position with controls grouped around a 7-inch touch screen which is fitted as standard.

Local specifications include an Auto pack which combines automatic air conditioning, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, plus an additional USB port, a City Camera pack which offers a colour reversing camera and rear parking sensors, and a Navigation pack which provides an eMyway sat nav system, and an audio upgrade to six speakers, with 8GB jukebox and an Arkamys digital amplifier.

A panoramic roof is a $1000 option. The 17-inch Silver alloy wheels are standard but can be swapped to black at no extra charge. Pearlescent paint is an additional $750. The City park assist pack is an additional $800.

The Cactus offers more than 184 different colour and trim combinations.

If the six-speed ETG transmission sounds typically Gallic – there is a another unique twist to this model, its fitted with a front sofa-style bench seat which brings the front occupants together, opening up the front cabin, and removing the traditional barrier of the centre console, according to Citroen.

As for those Airbumps which combine form and function says Citroen, the thermoplastic polyurethane construction of the bumps are filled with air to absorb minor impacts.

Customers can choose from four colours, Black, Stone Grey, Dune, and Chocolate. Naturally the standard Black option can be used on all ten exterior colours offered by the C4 Cactus, the Stone Grey can be optioned on five, the Dune can be optioned on four body colours, whilst the Chocolate is restricted to two body colours.

And if you want the different coloured airbumps, the cost is a very reasonable $200.

Incidentally Citroen spent three years refining the Airbumps and filed 9 patent applications in the process – so these are not just a cynical marketing gimmick, they have a true design function.

Then there is the choice of six interior trim combinations.

The standard trim is Grey Mica cloth with a stone grey harmony interior package, or you can have black half leather/cloth trimmed seats for an additional $1000.

You can then have the purple inside pack, with purple cloth seats for $400 or the half black leather/black cloth seats for $1000.

Finally you can the habana inside pack with either black cloth/habana club velvet seats for $400 more or habana leather/black cloth seats for $1000.

In the grand scheme of things its not an extortionate amount for customisation in comparison with other passenger vehicle brands who actually offer customers the ability to create their own interior colours.

Citroen divisional manager Simon Rose believes the C4 Cactus will help to change the perception of the brand in New Zealand and will most definitely attract new customers to the double Chevron dealerships.

“I know its become a bit of a cliche expression within the automotive industry,” says Rose. “But this car really is a game changer for us.

The C4 Cactus is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea as it’s a car with a definite retro feel in some areas, the rear seat doesn’t have a 60/40 fold, it simply folds down in one piece, and the rear hinged windows aren’t going to suit everyones taste.

Driving impressions

New Zealand Citroen importer Sime Darby Automobiles brought in 15 diesel C4 Cactus models to test the water and all but one have been snapped up by it’s dealer network.

Hence the one car available to the media has been in hot demand. We spent a couple of hours driving the ETG6 equipped car through urban Auckland and found that the transmission coped extremely well with the demands placed upon it.

Our test car was fitted with the optional panoramic roof, which doesn’t come with an internal blind, and despite Citroen ’s assurance that it has advanced heat protection, we still felt it created a fairly warm interior, especially when parked in direct sunlight.

The touch screen controls are intuitive and easily used, and the audio/cruise control/ speed limiter controls on the steering wheel are also easily used.

Build quality appears to be excellent and the C4 Cactus offers the quiet comfortable ride quality that one normally associates with the Citroen brand.

Will it convert current Citroen owners and conquest other brands? Only time and sales will tell, the next shipment of cars is due in April according to Sime Darby, and a number of those have been spoken for already.

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