Driven: Citroen C4 Cactus Flair Review

DRIVEN: Citroen C4 Cactus Review

Following a week long test drive with the Citroen C4 Cactus, here is my review on the sharply designed modern car from the French manufacturer.

What’s the Citroen C4 Cactus all about?

The Citroen C4 Cactus is probably one of the most interestingly designed cars you will see on the road at the moment. I’ve talked about this previously, and I remember when I first saw the car I thought ‘that is an interesting looking concept car’, as it turns out it wasn’t a concept car at all. Citroen have made a completely radically designed hatchback that may be ahead of its time.

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As with most Citroens, you can configure the car using many different options that will create over 21 different variants of the car. The Cactus comes in 3 main trim levels; Touch, Feel and Flair. These cars have a choice of 4 petrol engines and 2 diesel engines across the entire range.

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One of the boldest design moves for Citroen was the introduction of AirBump, which is the bubble like panels on the side of the car. The idea is to give you practical functionality to help avoid damage when knocking car doors into one another in car parks, but they have also become the main talking point of the car.

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The Citroen C4 Cactus Flair on test is powered by a 1.6-litre Blue HDi engine. It creates 100bhp and 254Nm of torque. Using a manual gearbox the car will get from 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds and will do a top speed of 114mph. The engine only creates 89g/km of emissions, which is very low and Citroen say the C4 Cactus can also return 83mpg in the right conditions.

How does it drive?

As other-worldly as the car is on the outside it is still a regular car when it comes to driving, there are three pedals, a gear stick and surprise, surprise, a steering wheel all in the place you expect them.

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Citroen are known for making great hatchbacks and the Cactus is no exception to the rule. The steering is lightweight making the car easily manoeuvrable and friendly when driving in a city environment. The 1.6-litre diesel engine creates 100bhp and feels pretty suitable for the weight of the car and also fairly responsive when you need it to be.

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Sitting in the driving seat looking at the driver instruments does give you a very different feel; there is no rev or coolant gauges in front of you, the entire dial cluster has been digitised and you only really see the speed that you’re going and the amount of fuel that you have left. The way the graphics are displayed gives the car a very futuristic feel.

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What’s it like inside?

Inside the Citroen C4 Cactus there are also some bold design steps that have been taken, Citroen have completely redesigned the inside of the C4 to reinvent in-car design. The centre console has had all of its normal buttons and controls digitised; this removes clutter from the centre console and introduces a funky new interface for the driver to play with. The interface has a black and white theme and is great to look at, but at times does leave you wishing that it would operate faster.

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The Cactus features some large funky square armchair style front seats but they don’t offer much in the way of support. The cloth design also appears to match the AirBump effect on the outside of the car. The rest of the interior has lots of quirky and inventive touches such as the race car like door handles, a top opening glove box and the completely virtualised digital displays for both the driver instruments and the centre console, as previously mentioned.

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Another feature worth mentioning is Citroen’s Magic Wash, which is controlled from inside the car. Citroen have integrated the washer jets into the wiper arms, meaning that you only use half the amount of washer fluid than you would normally. It is a really effective way of cleaning the windscreen and looks pretty cool at the same time. It’s these sorts of little things that count sometimes.

The Experience

The Citroen C4 Cactus experience is a unique one for sure. I can’t say that the driving experience or practicality, which are both fairly standard, is the real reason that you would buy a Cactus, I think it is more because of the alternative styling and the desire for something different.

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The Cactus looks ahead of its time at the moment, but we may find that more and more manufacturers take similar extreme styling routes in the near future to stand out from the crowd a little.

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The Cactus offers a completely unique car ownership experience, you almost look like you took a wrong turn and drove straight out of the future. But don’t forget, as bizarre as the Cactus may look it still has all the benefits of being a usable and friendly everyday car.

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The Citroen C4 Cactus has been the cause of some extreme debate in the automotive industry, mainly because of its tradition defying styling. When you get down to it, it’s a solid Citroen hatchback with a styling pack to shake things up a little bit. There is no denying that the C4 Cactus is a well-rounded everyday hatchback, but the outer design may be very much an acquired taste.

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Video Highlights


Citroen C4 Cactus Flair
  • Price: £17,990
  • Engine: 1.6-Litre Diesel Turbocharged
  • Power: 100bhp
  • Torque: 254Nm
  • Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
  • 0-62mph: 10.7 Seconds
  • Top speed: 114mph
  • Weight: 1,225kg
  • Economy combined: 83mpg
  • CO2: 89 g/km

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Author: Paul Hadley