Comfort is now king for revised Citroen C4 Cactus
PUBLISHED: 10:16 22 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:16 22 March 2018
“Comfort is the new cool”, according to Citroen, as it moves its latest C4 Cactus upmarket and away from SUV-like soft-roaders to compete with mainstream family motors. Motoring editor Andy Russell says it’s just so Citroen.
One word that crops up when Citroen talks about the latest C4 Cactus is comfort.
Launched in 2014, the SUV-inspired Cactus, with its padded Airbump door panels, shaped Citroen’s styling for the C3, C3 Aircross and forthcoming C5 Aircross.
This new Cactus is another image-builder, all about Citroen Advanced Comfort – lounge chair-like seats with deep, high density foam, innovative bump-cushioning suspension, low noise, space and versatility and intuitive, useful technology.
This significantly revised Cactus has a new role - filling the gap left by the conventional C4 hatchback.
Looks and image
The Cactus looks familiar but 90pc of the exterior is new. Shallower Airbump strips reveals more of the body colour on the doors but is that a good thing? The original, big area of padded air cells were a distinguishing feature and gave more protection from annoying car park door dings.
The new lighting signature sees wide, slender LED daytime running lights extending into the chrome chevrons emblem, new headlights and fog lights with a red surround on limited Feel Edition and chrome range-topping Flair. The back end gets redesigned 3D-effect LED lights.
Under the bonnet
Petrol should take 80pc of sales with the awarding PureTech 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with 110 and 130bhp, an 82bhp non-turbo version in the short-lived Feel Edition entry model and a 100bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel.
The big-seller will be the 110bhp petrol, with a five-speed manual gearbox, that can’t be hurried, or six-speed automatic. It has a wide spread of pull from 1,500rpm, enough mid-range punch to overtake safely and returned 46mpg driven enthusiastically.
How it drives
The comfort bias comes out with turbo-engined models getting new suspension with progressive hydraulic cushions which work with the shock absorber, coil spring and mechanical stop to slow the compression and decompression and avoid sudden jarring movements.
Dubbed a “flying carpet” effect is Citroen fantasy but it’s impressive over speed bumps and low-speed potholes but not so smooth on worn-out road surfaces which create tyre roar.
The soft set-up means more body lean in corners, not helped by those comfort seats having flat backs, but the Cactus makes confident progress once you’re used to it.
Space and comfort
It’s not the biggest C-segment hatchback but makes the most of its space.
Sculpted backs to the front seats free up rear legroom – enough for average adults but six-footers will find it tight, especially with the panoramic sunroof that’s standard on Flair, eating into headroom.
The 358-litre boot is deep and flat-sided and one-third, two-third split rear seat backs fold flat to free up 1,170 litres but step up from the boot floor and the sill is high.
The interior has a lot of hard plastics which lower the tone but there are four different interior ambiences with colour accents inspired by the world of furniture and spirit of travel.
At the wheel
The fascia is so simple – a central seven-inch touchscreen, that intuitive and quick to react, for vehicle functions including the heating and ventilation and an upright screen for a digital speedo, fuel gauge but no rev counter – very minimalist and dull.
A flip-top locker, with a catch design to look like a strap on a trunk, on the passenger side of the fascia is a nice touch.
Helping keep the C4 Cactus on the road are 12 safety and driving aids, many standard on the top model, or optional.
The original C4 Cactus’s standout styling found favour with 30,000 buyers in the UK. The new version is not as radical but, with the focus on upmarket comfort, it’s an interesting alternative in the mainstream family hatch market and that could be its USP.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Citroen C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 110 manual £19,865 (range £17,265 to £20,895)
Engine: 1,199cc, 110bhp, three-cylinder turbo petrol with five-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.4 seconds; top speed 117mph
MPG: Urban 51.4; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8
CO2 emissions: 104g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21pc (2018-19)
Insurance group: TBA (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,170mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,979mm; H 1,480mm