Cactus C4 a smooth operator
WHEN Citroen launched the C4 Cactus in 2014, the design was as spiky as the plant it was named after.
Huge airbumps to protect the side doors were the most obvious example of a compact crossover determined to make a big impression.
The latest version, introduced earlier this year, is less in your face but is a much more confident and assured individual as a result.
Yes there are still bump panels lurking on the bottom of the doors - but they are much smaller so no longer dominate a modern look that is pleasing on the eye.
Citroen gives the latest Cactus a streamlined design which sees the ditching of roof rails and a new face featuring headlights that remind me of Marvel’s superhero Iron Man.
The tailgate is replaced and there are more new lights which provide able support to the rest of the model’s move towards respectability.
That dosen’t mean it is in any way staid or stuffy as there’s a joie de vivre about the whole look that Citroen does so well.
The French motor manufacturer’s traditional expertise when it comes to the ride is also demonstrated via a neat hi-tech suspension that smooths out the many humps and hollows littering our highways these days.
This makes it a comfortable cruiser when it comes to long trips on a motorway - aided and abetted by a decent level of refinement as most exterior noise is banished from the cabin – but it still offers enough grip to make country lanes anything but a chore although there is a touch of body roll when corners are taken at pace.
The driving position is low for an SUV so you don’t get the impression of height normally the preserve of these motors - but thanks to the comfortable and supportive seats and informative steering you do feel connected to the car in a way you sometimes don’t when perched up in the air.
The cockpit is well designed with everything logically located and easy to use while the oblong digital readout ahead of the driver is a delight.
The PureTech 110 three-pot petrol engine is a willing beast completing the sprint to 62mph from a standing start in just over nine seconds on its way to a top speed of 122mph.
It is frugal when it comes to fuel consumption with a claimed average figure just north of 55mpg coming in at around the high 40s mark in the real world with carbon dioxide emissions of 117g/km. Two other three-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel are also offered in a small but select range.
The interior is surprisingly plush with a premium feel at odds with the relatively inexpensive price-tag of just under £20,000. The air vents on the centre console catch the eye while you can’t fail to notice the natty handles when you go to close the doors.
The car’s many treats are accessed through a seven-inch touchscreen with the Flair model getting an efficient sat nav system as well as a digital radio and MP3 player plus smartphone connectivity. The dual-zone air conditioning ensures a pleasant atmosphere in the cabin while leg and headroom are adequate for all occupants.
Luggage room is reasonably plentiful at 358 litres with the rear seats in place expanding to 1,170 litres when you fold them flat. There are also plenty of cubby holes including a clever top-hinged glovebox to accommodate the various nik-naks that accumulate with family motoring.
It all adds up to an assured package that isn’t perhaps as individual as the original Cactus, but overall benefits from the changes Citroen has made.