It is not very often a car like the Citroen C4 Cactus comes along. When the pictures of its concept were first unveiled at Geneva back in March 2014, the future suddenly looked very exciting for the French brand. The production version debuted not too long after that to deserved acclaim as Citroen launched a brand new Cross Hatch that differed very little from the concept it first uncovered. With such sensational looks and a radical new futuristic interior, it still needed to deliver and compete in a very competitive C segment. Now available with a range of new ‘Puretech’ petrol and diesel engines promising class leading economy, is there even further reason to consider the Cactus as your next hatch back?
Despite its concept style appearance, underneath the C4 Cactus is actually the normal and practical hatch back that you hoped it would be. Because of the unique styling and size of the Cactus, there really is very little not to like. Even though it may look like a 4x4 due to its shape and elevated appearance, the Cactus is only available in two wheel drive – this makes it more economical. Its quirky yet aesthetically pleasing ‘Air Bumps’ add an edge of ruggedness to it too and because it is built on Citroens PF1 supermini platform and not the EMP2, it’s 200kg lighter. This is where the advances in Citroen’s new ‘Puretech’ engine ranges really come into play, but we’ll come to that later.
Climbing inside, there is just the right amount of eye catching details like strapped door handles and unique touches along its streamlined dash to keep you intrigued. Featuring just two LCD screens, a clever lidded glove box, a slightly squared off steering wheel and a gear lever makes the simplicity of this car shine through. The glove box design alone would make you wonder why more manufacturers don’t employ it. It’s down to the unique construction of the Cactus that allow the air bags to be fitted to the inside of the roof line. Space is ample in the rear too but it is made feel slightly Closter phobic due to the rear windows that only clip open and don’t wind down. You can read even more about my colleagues drive of the Citroen C4 Cactus here as the 2015 C4 Cactus I was testing was really about its new engine.
Citroen have launched five new ‘Puretech’ engines, three petrol (75, 82 & 110bhp) and two diesel (92 & 100bhp) offering improved economy. The particular C4 Cactus I was testing was fitted with the Citroens latest 1.2 litre 3 cylinder ‘Puretech’ petrol with 110bhp and 205Nm of torque. Along with the cars lightweight construction, this engine will achieve a combined fuel economy consuming just 4.7l/100km but this is not the new engines main party piece. What is, is its linear delivery of torque. Like all 3 cylinder petrol engines, it does have a tendency to rev and be a little shouty but it by no means leaves you looking for power and it’s there right across the torque band. The car felt more than nippy around the city and urban areas and while 0-100kmh may take 9.3 seconds, when up to motorway speeds, it cruises well and is very comfortable.
Considering the size of the Citroen C4 Cactus, you could be forgiven for becoming a little confused with which segment it falls in to. Does it compete with the likes of the Nissan Juke or Renault Captur or is it going up against the Volkswagen Golf or Peugeot 308? Truth is, we’re not entirely sure but what Citroen have done is carve a new niche that works. The C4 Cactus is smart, practical and good to drive. Is it the most spacious hatchback out there? No, but it’s very cleverly priced and comfortable while the new ‘Puretech’ engines only adds to the Cactus appeal.