Cactus Is No Control Freak

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If you think all cars are similar, have a look at the Citroen Cactus, and in particular, its interior.

Some vehicle cabins can be a bit boring, with lots of dark plastics and fabrics, which tend to be use and dirt-resistant, but there’s an interchangeability about their looks which mean someone who isn’t interested in these things might step from a Ford Focus into a Vauxhall Astra and barely notice.

By contrast the Cactus has furnishings that nod to the sort of clever-but-unique cars Citroen used to sell until the mid 1970s, and makes a virtue out of minimalism, with carpets giving way to easily washed rubbers and plastics, and some of the shapes and detailing of things, like the door trims, nodding to its more individualistic past.

The main thing that sets it apart is the dashboard, which features a period feature known as a glove box, where most modern cars stuff in an airbag, because Citroen has secreted it into the roof instead. The instruments, whilst thoroughly modern, also stand out, with features like the heating and ventilation controlled from a large, touch-sensitive screen in the middle of the fascia. As a thoroughly middle-aged technophobe I thought this would be a fiddly gimmick, but no, it all made perfect sense, whilst not looking completely standard issue, which made a really refreshing change. The ergonomic, or control layouts of many cars look similar because drivers can easily find what they need if it’s in much the same place. But that means some car designers don’t approach these things with fresh eyes, to see if they could be made better by being different. At least Citroen has tried with the Cactus.

For years Citroen indicators didn’t self-cancel as a way of ensuring that drivers always remembered to shut them down, and the company’s long dead Visa hatchback started life without column stalks, instead, it featured cocktail shaker-shaped pods next to their steering wheels for the lights, wipers, etc. Perhaps if the company is getting in touch with its inner uniqueness once more it might re-visit them.

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