Citroen C4 Cactus Preview: Less Marmite
by Sue Baker
Three years on from its original launch, the double chevron car maker’s Cactus has undergone a major makeover
Citroen chose a Parisian structure engineered by Monsieur Gustave Eiffel for the launch this week of its new Citroen C4 Cactus.
No, not the famous landmark Tower that is the iconic symbol of the French capital known around the world. This was a former waterworks, housed in a decorative brick building in the north-west corner of the city alongside the peripherique orbital motorway.
Inside, under M. Eiffel’s towering steel roof arches, Citroen ushered in a new era for its own modern icon, the quirky Citroen C4 Cactus. Originally launched three years ago, the Cactus commands strong owner loyalty, loved for its friendly practicality and its trademark ‘airbumps’ that protect the doors from parking dents.
Do you like the look of the updated Citroen C4 Cactus? Sell your car and you can upgrade to a new era too.
Fans and detractors
But the Cactus has proved to be somewhat divisive, a bit of a Marmite car. It is loved by many, but those visually prominent airbumps apparently put off some prospective owners. So now it has been given an early mid-life makeover that is rather more radical than normal.
The car has undergone quite a major makeover, including the drastic scaling down of those controversial airbumps. It features other styling changes including a mildly revised front, new LED rear lights in a spruced-up tail, and the introduction of Citroen’s new ‘Advanced Comfort’ package of measures.
These combine the effects of a new suspension design of ‘progressive hydraulic cushions’, and a revised seating structure of 60 mm of high density foam topped with a supple 15 mm layer of squidgier soft foam. Together they achieve a much more cushioning ride for the car. Citroen enthuses about the ‘mattress effect’ of these measures.
The changes were introduced under a banner of ‘Comfort is the new Cool’ by Citroen’s British-born global chief executive, Linda Jackson.
Less SUV, more hatch
The Cactus first joined the range as a mildly pumped-up SUV crossover that didn’t stand as tall as some others, but had its own distinctive personality and was unmistakable on the road because of those airbumps.
Now Citroen is trying to re-position its appeal, tone down its SUV-ness and make more emphasis on its hatchback style. It has also been given a slight nudge upmarket in design and quality.
The roofrails of the old model have gone, and those fat airbumps have been drastically slimmed down and moved lower towards the door sills. The resulting new model is smoother but also blander. It will probably expand the car’s potential appeal to a wider range of buyers, but fans of the original car may feel just a bit disappointed by its diluted character.
Engine choice is between three-cylinder petrol units with power outputs of 81, 109 and 128 bhp, or a four-cylinder diesel with 99 bhp. They are teamed with a five or six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed auto.
The boot is 358 litres, the same as a Ford Focus. The range has access to 12 electronic driver assistance systems, including active safety brake, speed limit recognition and park assist. Also offered are TomTom satnav via a seven-inch infotainment screen, and music streaming via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink.
An improvement over the previous car is that there are now two cupholders sited close to the gear lever. But disappointingly, as before, the rear side windows only open part-way, and there is no passenger vanity mirror.
As is a popular trend now, the new Cactus has lots of personalisation options, with nine body colours and four colour packs to pick out contrasting highlights. The new Cactus is scheduled to arrive in the UK around March or April next year, and pricing has yet to be announced but is likely to be from around £14,000 to £22,000.
Images: Sue Baker
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