Car Review: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen is known for smart engineering, clever engineering, and its famed quirkiness. The three come together with the C4 Cactus and it’s a car with something out of the ordinary. The smooth, organic, rounded, Cactus features Airbumps. Simple in concept and execution, they’re poly-urethane pockets filled with air. Made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) grade Elastollan AC 55D10 HPM (High Performance Material) the bumps are intended to give extra protection in close quarter situations such as carparks.The review car was badged OneTone, signifying one all-over shade and in this case, all white. There’s another trim level called Exclusive. Pricing varies more between manual and auto than the two trim levels available. The manual and auto Exclusive are $30592 and $33373 driveaway. The OneTone manual and auto are $31107 and $33888 respectively.Motorvation is provided by the PSA Group’s 1.2L petrol engine. Peak power is 81kW. Peak torque is a surprisingly good, for the size of the engine, 205Nm. That comes in at 1500rpm and is courtesy of a low boost turbo. The auto is the PSA Group’s EAT6 transmission. It’s a torque converter style with a bit of dual clutch auto feel. Under way it’s smooth enough but was sometimes (thankfully rarely) too readily caught in the wrong cog, sending vibrations through the Cactus body as it struggled with revs and torque not being available. From standstill it engages readily when in manual mode, hesitates slightly in auto, and will swap gear swiftly and mostly smoothly, as mentioned. While it’s underway, the engine puts out that familiar three cylinder warble. It’s not unpleasant but can override conversation levels.There’s two transmissions available for the Cactus: a six speed auto as found in the review car or five speed manual. Fuel tank size is fifty litres and Citroen quotes a combined fuel economy of 5.1L/100km for the auto, 4.7L/100km for the manual. A Sports mode is available at the push of a console mounted button. Top speed is quoted as 188km/h with the zero to one hundred time quoted as 10.7 seconds for the auto but a considerably quicker 9.3 seconds for the manual. This is explained by a 105kg weight difference. The manual tips the scales at 1020kg dry, the auto at 1125kg.It’s compact too, featuring an overall length of just 4157mm. The rear houses a handy 358L cargo bay that increases to 1170L when the rear seats fold. The cloth wrapped seats themselves are comfy enough but lack suitable side support for the front row. The rear seats are slightly slabby but due to the width (1729mm overall) there’s only room for two which is comfortable enough.
Leg room at the front is superb and rear leg room is also quite good. Headroom should pose no problem unless you’re two metres plus in height.The inside has a theme. It’s something along the lines of a suitcase, with the door handles rounded and with a leather like material and the glovebox has two latches, one of which opens the glovebox, and look like those found on a suitcase. The top of the glovebox has bumps that mirror the bumps outside and the door trims are embossed with something similar. There’s power window switches for the front only and they’re not auto Up/Down. The rear windows are popout in nature, with a lever mechanism, but don’t go down at all. The dash colour is a pink hued one called Habana over fish scaled plastic, contrasting with the black plastic abutting the windscreen and the rest of the interior trim. What was noticeable also was there were only three air vents; two in the centre console and one to the driver’s right. No vent to the passenger’s left and no vents for the rear seats.A slightly fiddly seven inch touchscreen houses all of the controls for audio, driver settings, aircon, car information, and the like. Fiddly in that sometimes more than one press or touch is required to access something like the audio screen, or the aircon screen, which means less concentration on driving. The driver gets a sci-fi inspired display screen, with 1970s look-a-like LCD blocks It’s shows speed and fuel but no revs. Consumption and trip meters are available via the touchscreen but revs aren’t…The OneTone Cactus is unremarkable in appearance bar the colour coded bumps on the doors and front & rear. The review car was Pearlescent White with matt white (Dune) for the plastic coverings. There are strip LED driving lights above the main headlights ala Jeep Cherokee/Hyundai Kona yet somehow it manages to look better than both, possibly due to the ovoid exterior design. That same Elastollan material also coats sections of both front and rear bumpers. Up top, there’s full length roof rails. The multi-coloured Cactus looks more striking with the contrasts in colours, such as a red and black mix.Safety levels are good but not great, with Hill Start Assist, reverse camera and six airbags but there’s no kneebag for the driver. Nor are there Blind Spot alerts, Cross Traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control or autonomous braking. There is something unique, though, about the passenger airbag. It’s roof mounted, coming down like a larger pillow.

On road, the suspension provides mostly smooth but sometimes unsettled ride quality. The Cactus is all too easily sent momentarily sideways, even over those dreaded shopping centre speedbumps. It’s also floaty, rather than wafty, wallowing where it should be up/down/stop. This isn’t altogether a bad thing as it does offer a cossetting ride, with no rear perception of harshness in any way. The diamond cut and painted 17 inch alloys are shod with eco-friendly Goodyear EfficientGrip rubber at 205/50 and they do hold on tightly, exhibiting mild understeer and quietly at that.Brakes are reasonable in hauling down the Cactus and pedal feel is nothing less than adequate. The steering is the same; it’s sometimes natural, sometimes artificial, but never less than adequate in feedback. Warranty is three years or 100,000 kilometres and in early 2018 Citroen Australia were offering free servicing for three years on plate clearance models.

Here is where you can find more information: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

At The End Of The Drive.
Citroen’s C4 Cactus is a mixed bag. It is a good looker in a way, it’s roomy enough, will drive well enough for most, but is hampered by a somewhat fiddly ride and doesn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary apart from looks thanks to the Airbumps and that French quirkiness.

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