The C4 hatchback is going out of production in the middle of this year with no direct replacement. Stepping up to the plate to fill the void is a car we’re familiar with – the C4 Cactus.
The new C4 Cactus represents a marriage of a small crossover and family hatch. The chunky fun styling of the original Cactus has been toned down a little to tempt the slightly more conservative C4 buyer to crossover – see what I did there!
The revised Cactus styling isn’t the really interesting part. The big news with the C4 Cactus is the level of comfort. Citroën is getting back to what it is famous for and that is delivering a comfortable ride via innovative suspension and big comfy seats that in Cactus feature thicker (+15mm) memory foam. I had an original Citroën DS, a car so comfortable it could make a statue weep with joy. Cactus gets clever new suspension as standard but unlike the nightmare of the hydraulic sphere suspension in my DS the Cactus gets clever shock absorbers or dampers as there known in some parts. The ‘progressive hydraulic cushions’ shocks are the same size as regular dampers and easily fit inside a coil spring. The ride quality is superb and being French – softly sprung. On rough surfaces the little Cactus was far from prickly and for its class – rather smooth as silk. The only downside is that enthusiastic cornering will induce a lot of body roll, but this car is not about delivering good track times rather good family times.
Visual design and styling trickery implies a size differential with the outgoing car. Size wise the new model is essentially the same as the old C4 cactus outside and in. The split-face front end is striking and smart. The big ‘Airbumps’ are reworked and less obvious. Rugged plastic trim surrounds the car so a trip to the supermarket shouldn’t be traumatic. The top grade car gets colour coding on its bumps. The C4 cactus now looks more squat and chunky. The tailgate gets restyled too. There are some nice subtle touches like the fake aerodynamic air blades that seem to widen the car’s stance. Roofrails are optional (they were standard on the original Cactus).
Inside the roof mounted front airbag continues and this allows the cool trunk like glove box to remain a nice feature. Hard plastics abound but the design is solid and pleasing. The C4 Cactus has buckets of personality and would be a car a family might, no should christen.
In Ireland Citroën is a tiny player in the new car market. The IM owned distributor says it’s targeting the big players like Ford Focus, Opel Astra, Renault Megane, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30 with the new C4 Cactus. Presently in France and here in Ireland the C4 Cactus outsells the C4 by some way.
The engine range starts with a 110hp PureTech petrol unit (€19,995) and 100hp diesel BlueHDi (€22,195). A 130hp petrol from €23,795 is also available. A 55/45% mix favouring diesel is expected. Manual (88%) and auto (12%) gearboxes feature. Three grades are available; Touch, Feel + €2,500 and expected to account for 80% of sales. A further €2,000 gets the top Flair grade.
Linda Jackson, Citroën’s global boss, told me at the car’s first reveal that the new C4 Cactus points to the firm’s direction to deliver cars that are big on 21st century comfort that includes connectivity etc. and vehicles that are also big on stylish design. These are the key identifiers for Citroën going forward.