November 13, 2018

Citroën C4 Cactus First Drive Review

Caroline drives the new C4 Cactus!

Citroën C4 Cactus
The 2018 Citroën C4 Cactus

The new Citroën C4 Cactus will be arriving in Irish Citroen dealers in May. Since the quirky C4 Cactus arrived in Ireland in 2014, Citroen has had a rethink about the positioning of this car. For 2018, a new Citroën C4 Cactus arrives combining the best attributes of the C4 hatchback and the C4 Cactus crossover. Citroën says it’s moved the C4 Cactus from the B-segment to the C-segment. The car is now pitched as a hatchback but offers something completely different to rivals with its distinct crossover-like styling. Caroline attended the Irish launch of the new Citroën C4 Cactus in Dublin and Kildare this week and had an opportunity to drive the new car. The C4 Cactus goes on sale from €19,995.

Styling

The Citroën C4 Cactus is famous for its quirky design and protective ‘airbumps’. For the 2018 model, Citroën has toned down the look by moving the plastic cladding down the car. There is still cladding surrounding the whole car, which is a unique ‘crossover’ look for a C-segment hatchback. Though the C4 Cactus is pretty much the same size as the outgoing car, the styling update has been very successful: the C4 Cactus stands out as something really different from rivals without being too weird. The Citroën C3 influence is very evident, a car we like very much here at Changing Lanes. Customisation still features so there is the option to go discreet or more colourful. There are nine body colours to choose from and four colour packs.

Interior

The interior of the C4 Cactus is probably different to most cars you’ve sat into. Citroën is on a major mission to revolutionise car interiors and create calm, comfortable spaces that give a real feeling of well-being. The cabin of the C4 Cactus features a number of quirky features but is lacking some of the interior plushness and character of the baby C3 Aircross. There are a lot of hard plastics and weight saving measures meaning that in the rear there are still pop-out windows carried over from the outgoing model, and there is no rev counter. The new Advanced Comfort® seats are very comfortable. There are five cabin ‘ambiences’ that can be added, which are basically different colour schemes.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The interior of the Citroën C4 Cactus

Practicality

The Citroën C4 Cactus will seat five and feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle despite a compact footprint. The boot is a good size at 358 litres. There’s a relatively high load lip but it makes up for it in outright space, and a spare wheel included.

Engines

In Ireland the Citroën C4 Cactus is available with a 1.2-litre turbo petrol (110hp or 130hp) and a 1.6-litre diesel with 100hp. Manual or automatic gearboxes are available.

Citroën expects diesel to still take the lion’s share of sales but only just. At the Irish launch, I had the opportunity to test drive the 1.2-litre 110hp petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel. Emissions are low with motor tax for the range from €180 to €200.

The petrol engine really suits the car. It’s smooth and quiet on the move, nippy around town and refined for the motorway. The diesel is noisier and doesn’t feel as lively.

On the road

Citroën wants to be the benchmark for comfort in the compact class so aside from creating comfortable, calm interiors, the brand is also working on the suspension and driving character. The C4 Cactus is the brand’s first car in Europe to use a new suspension system with’ Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. The car is beautifully soft over varied Irish road surfaces. The C4 Cactus is considerably lighter than rivals but it holds its own well on the road. The steering is light and easy making it great for urban driving. Through rural twisty roads there is some body roll and the light steering can feel a bit woolly when pushing on.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The Citroën C4 Cactus is back with a new look, more comfort, technology and refinement

Equipment

In Ireland, the new C4 Cactus is available in three trim levels: Touch, Feel and Flair. There are now 12 driver assistance systems on offer, including Active Safety Brake, Grip Control® and Lane Departure Warning. There are also two connectivity technologies including Citroën Connect Nav, and Mirror Screen functionality (Android Auto/Apple Carplay).

Standard equipment on Touch models includes cruise control, 7” touchscreen, front fog lights, air con and LED daytime running lights.

Feel trim adds some more styling, 17” alloys, rear privacy glass, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, and automatic air con.

Flair trim adds an exterior colour pack, front parking sensors, Active Safety Brake, driver attention alert, speed sign recognition, lane departure warning and keyless entry/push button start.

Pricing

Irish pricing starts at €19,995 for an entry level Touch 1.2 petrol model. Feel models start from €22,495. Flair models start from €24,495. Diesels start at €22,195.

Rivals

The Citroën C4 Cactus will face competition from traditional stalwarts of the compact hatchback class including the Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Ford Focus.

Citroën C4 Cactus
The Citroën C4 Cactus goes on sale in Ireland priced from €19,995

Verdict

Citroën may have diluted down the styling of the C4 Cactus somewhat but it’s looking all the better for it. The new positioning also makes a lot of sense and it looks like a quirky alternative to traditional hatchbacks in the C-segment. There are cost-cutting measures around the car and the cabin quality reflects the pricing, but it’s still a nice relaxing place to be behind the wheel. The C4 Cactus is soft and effortless to drive, practical and of course comfortable for the family on board. The petrol model is particularly good and there is value to be had in the range with generous equipment.

Caroline Kidd