Mad but ap­peal­ing

Ever had your mo­tor bashed in a car park and cursed your luck? The bril­liant new Citroen C4 Cac­tus might just be the car for you. Matt Kim­ber­ley re­ports.

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kentmotors -

As breaths of fresh air go, the Cac­tus is like a lung-full of West Scot­land’s finest in the mid­dle of rush-hour Lon­don. It’s a car de­signed to fit into real-world life­styles where you need lots of places to store bits and pieces, where touch-screens are as sec­ond na­ture as a sec­ond scoop of ice cream and where peo­ple al­ways man­age open their doors into your paint­work. The Cac­tus is built to take life’s lit­tle tri­als in its stride with a rad­i­cal re-think. Looks and image

That’s why you’ll find those cu­ri­ous and dis­tinc­tive coloured panels along the sides. These “Air­Bump” air-filled blocks are scratch-re­sis­tant and a bit bouncy, so er­rant su­per­mar­ket trol­leys and swing­ing coat zips won’t leave a mark. The same ma­te­rial is on the boot and in a few other places too, help­ing to avoid any ugly and ex­pen­sive body­work dam­age. The Cac­tus is the first truly hon­est Citroen for years. It’s a bit mad­cap but not so much so as to be off-putting. It’s sim­ply very good at the ev­ery­day bif­fabout thing, and there’s no doubt a lot of peo­ple will be very taken by that. Be­hind the wheel

Citroen openly admits the Cac­tus is built to a price. That’s half the point: re­al­is­tic own­er­ship costs. With that in mind it’s amaz­ing how qui­etly the 1.2-litre 110-horse­power petrol ver­sion bim­bles around town. At 30mph in the fourth of five gears, the loud­est thing is the air con­di­tion­ing fan, which it­self is only lightly breath­ing away in the back­ground. There’s noth­ing re­mark­able about the way it drives. The soft, chunky seats are un­usual these days and very com­fort­able, the steer­ing is quite slow and un­threat­en­ing, and the ride is very smooth. The whole driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is that of a car you’d never re­gret buy­ing or dis­like own­ing. Value for money

You don’t get as much out­right space as you do in, say, a Seat Toledo, but the Cac­tus has a far greater char­ac­ter gar­nish to go with its healthy dol­lop of prac­ti­cal­ity. In terms of pro­vid­ing fam­i­lyfriendly trans­port that you’re not afraid to see bumped around now and again, what could be bet­ter? There could be clever fi­nance deals on the cards, too, if the UK fol­lows suit with Spain’s “pay as you drive” mileage-based fi­nance scheme. Who would buy one?

The bril­liant news is that this won’t just ap­peal to bud­getled buy­ers who hate look­ing af­ter their cars. It’s a damn fine ev­ery­day car with some great quirks and an un­usual look, so par­ents look­ing for some­thing live­lier-look­ing to put on the drive will love it; as will peo­ple bored with the same old hatch­back crowd.

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