CITROËN C4 CACTUS
Not exactly a SUV but could be considered as such, thanks to its very distinctive design the little French “berlinetta” stands out in rather standardized automotive world with unique solutions and aesthetic features
Whether you like it or not, you would have to agree that the Cactus is certainly a non conventional vehicle. Not so much for the technology, though. Its design is what sets it apart from all other C-class sedans. A thorough search for those unique and practical features aimed at not only creating a style that recalls a crossover, but determines a clear distinction between Citroën and its direct competitors, mainly German and Japanese. Starting with the Airbumps (an exclusive Citroen patent), those flashy plastic elements which make the car so immediately recognizable, in addition to playing a fundamental role in protecting the car from accidental collisions at low speeds or inadvertently touching other vehicles in narrow parking lots, for example in shopping malls. In short, style and practicality, something that intimately belongs to the brand’s heritage.
Faithful to the parameters set for this class of vehicles, without sacrificing interior space, the external dimensions of the C4 Cactus remain compact, 4.15 m in length, 1.73 m wide, and just 1.49 meters as maximum height, all to the advantage of aerodynamics. Awarded with the World Car Design of the Year 2015, the Cactus has little in common with other C4s, starting from its well rounded front and rear bumpers and its most distinctive feature, the Airbumps, creating a sharp contrast between the more traditional models and this young and breezy version. High-set LED running lights, while the main lights are part of large plastic housings comparable to its Airbump side, and round fog lamps below that activate when cornering to provide greater visibility in the dark. The sides of the car incorporate one of its big talking points – the Airbump panels, a first in any class, and far from being just a design feature. Citroen claims they’ll protect the bodywork from parking scrapes and dents, as these large bubble wraps for cars are made from rubberised plastic cladding featuring air pockets that help to minimise impacts from other car doors or accidental collisions at low speed, not to mention the number of visits to paint and body shops. Available in four colours (depending on body colour) to customise the look of your C4 Cactus, if you wish to, while the front and rear plastic claddings match the Airbump panels.
The interior’s brightness, rather minimal chick though stylish, is enhanced by a large panoramic roof (optional), with high crystal thermal protection, which filters the light just like sunglasses do without the need of a sunshade. An element that, together with the aluminum hood, contributes to a considerable weight reduction which means, for the Cactus, 200 kg less compared to a traditional C4.
The traditional dashboard has being replaced by an oblong display positioned in front of the steering wheel, and all on-board functions are managed by a second 7 inch touch-screen, with 7 touch-sensitive buttons providing access to every function on the vehicle such as A/C, radio, phone and navigation in just one click. The front passengers sit in a comfortable sofa like seat with an automatic transmission or an ETG semi-automatic transmission, with the gear lever being replaced by D,N and R buttons on the central console together with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The single piece folding rear bench seat provides comfortable seating space for three passengers, ensuring an expansion of the cargo area from 350 to 1,170 liters once the back seat has been completely folded. Standard equipment cannot overlook a complete electronic control package with Park Assist, Hill Assist, rear view camera (optional) and Citroën eTouch emergency assistance system, which makes it possible, through a Sim card, to be reached promptly by an emergency service in case of accident or other needs.
RATIONAL AND CONVENIENT
A ground breaking model within the C4 family, which includes also the stylish DS4 and MPV C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso, along with the C4 Aircross sport utility (made on the Mitsubishi ASX platform), even the C4 Cactus benefits from the sedan’s technological edge, which stems from the PSA PF1 platform common to the whole C3 series. With a wheelbase extended to 2.6 meters and very small overhangs, the chassis benefits from MacPherson struts at the front and a simple torsion bar for the rear suspension, which helps in guaranteeing the maximum use of on-board space.
What about the engines? The Cactus C4 is the recipient of Citroën’s technological edge, with various outputs for each of the two engines to be chosen from (hybrid and bi-fuel versions are still missing), all Euro 5 and Euro 6 and equipped with the latest start & stop fuel saving systems. The entry level is the three cylinder 1.2 litre Puretech petrol, with outputs of 75 and 82 hp, not exactly fantastic to be honest, but still able to guarantee, thanks to the relatively light weight of the vehicle (less than 1000 kg), decent performances.
As for transmissions, depending on the engine, the C4 provides for a 5 speed manual or a 6 speed semi-automatic ETG, which allow adequate speed and accelerations though not spectacular. Fuel economy, on the other hand can be spectacular - up to 22 km/litre for both with CO2 emissions at 82g/km.
An injection of life comes from the turbocharged version with direct injection, able to produce 110 hp which translates into a top speed of 190 km/h, and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 9,3 seconds with fuel consumption virtually unchanged compared to the naturally aspirated models.
Next up the turbodiesel version, actually two, since the four cylinder 1.6 litre comes in the traditional HDi 92hp version as well as Blue HDi 100hp, with ETG6 transmission, the latter being even more economical, fuel wise, than its predecessor, with 32 km/litre on average against the already positive 28 km/litre of the entry level.
Last but not least, alloy wheels also play a part in enhancing the cactus’ unusual style, with 16” wheels on the more exclusive Shine trim level (Live and Feel trims still rely on steel wheels) or 17” wheels as an option on special editions, fitted with 205 mm. low rolling resistance tires.