The Citroen C4 Cactus is typical of the boundaries that the French giant love to push. It is a brilliant, funky and cool alternative to any hatchback on the market.
Like any other Citroen in the range, comfort is one of the Cactus most obvious merits. There is a choice of PureTech petrol engines and Blue HDi diesel engines. The 1.2 three cylinder PureTech 110 is the pick of the bunch delivering good level of power and it is less noisy than the 1.6 litre 4 cylinder diesel alternatives, although the diesel does deliver its power well. All variants are fitted with 5-speed manual gearboxes and thanks to the longer ratios, a sixth gear for motorway cruising is not missed. Despite being just 110bhp, the C4 Cactus never feels underpowered.
The C4 Cactus is overall a relaxing cruiser but it does have an element of fun to it too if you wish to push it a bit harder from time to time and it suits the character of the car. There is no real urgency about the Cactus and that’s no bad thing but when you do get up to speed it can be quite jittery on normal B roads. The characterful drive of an entry level Ford Fiesta, a Cactus does not have but its handling is perfectly adequate for the everyday driving that it will be used for by the majority of customers.
The cabin features a great retro minimalist design with a futuristic twist. The seats are soft and supple and you can even have a one piece style bench in the front if you opt for the automatic transmission. The upright touch screen and digital instrument binnacle are novel touches too. While the three cylinder 1.2 PureTech does like to rev, it is still far more refined than the diesel alternative. You can spec some larger wheels on the Cactus but they are still fitted with sizeable tyres so comfort is far from compromised. Its underpinnings are based mostly on that of its C3 sibling, hence its softness which may not be to everyone's liking.
The Citroen C4 Cactus is leagues ahead its C3 sibling when it comes to the finish in the cabin. The Cactus design is unique in every way and a feature of the car you will never tire of looking at. The cheaper materials low down at feet level can be forgiven due to the overall quality to the finish of the rest of the interior. Annoyingly the rear windows only click open like an old school supermini and rear passengers are not afforded a wind down window. This can make the car feel somewhat chlosterphobic for backseat travellers particularly on longer journeys.
Because the Cactus sits on C3 underpinnings, it too could only achieve 4/5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test meaning it lacks some of the standard high tech safety equipment that comes with other family hatchbacks. It gets traction control, ABS and airbags as standard with a clever windscreen curtain airbag. The Cactus is a very safe car. They may not be a fundamental safety feature but the quirky air bumps that make up the majority of the exteriors styling work really well helping you to avoid car park clangers and shopping trolley scars.
While it may have the appearance of a compact crossover and rival cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, it is in fact an elevated hatchback and is really more like a Volkswagen Golf on the inside. There is not a huge amount of adjustment in the front seat or steering wheel so that may not suit taller drivers. The top loading glovebox is a novel touch providing good storage space. The door pockets are big too particularly in the rear due the lack of a window winding mechanism. Boot space is not bad at 358 litres, but it can be increased further by rear seats that fold in a 60/40 split creating 1170 litres of space.