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New Citroën C4 Cactus Test Drive Review

New Citroën C4 Cactus Test Drive Review


Motoring journalist, John Swift, takes the new Citroën C4 Cactus for a spin.

Why Should I Buy a Citroën C4 Cactus?

  • Super comfy seats, front and rear
  • Great ride and handling, especially on our less than perfect roads
  • Safety Technology including Lane Departure Warning, much more and an alert if the car thinks you're drifiting off to sleep
  • Choice of engines with good fuel economy
  • Practical, flexible family car



Is the Citroën C4 Cactus a good family car?

Citroën has gone a different way with its facelifted C4 Cactus and in a direction I hope every other brand purporting to make family cars takes note of. This car has lessons others would do well to learn from, and with it, once again, Citroën leads the way in one critical area; read on to find out which.

Citroën’s C4 Cactus was always one of the most distinctive looking and immediately recognisable cars on the road with those big lumps of plastic running along its doors. Properly called 'air bumps', they were a design feature supposed to shield it against car park knocks. Maybe they worked to some extent, but did few favours to theCactus' overall appearance.

Citroën has recently facelifted the C4 Cactus from wheels to roof and you will notice that among the many changes the air bumps have been ditched, apart from some small units down at the bottom of the doors. No loss, in my view.

A white and a blue new Citroen C4 Cactus parked out side a modern house

What you have now is a smooth looking sort of crossover-cum-hatchback and a car which I reckon has more appeal now than before; especially in one critical area where it can now claim to lead the field….

What does the new Citroën C4 Cactus look like?

Styling: 4/5

The narrow `light bar’ slash for the headlamps which is becoming something of trademark for the brand dominates the front end and with the raised double chevron shape in the middle makes it unmistakeably a Citroën.

Blacked out A and B pillars and the frame of the rear window add a touch of lightness to its overall appearance and the rear is now much smoother.

For this facelift it’s more a case of taking away than adding and as well as the air bumps, Citroën has also removed the roof rails. Again, no loss in my view. I would rather have a car that has less wind noise and more fuel economy than the once-in-a-blue moon usefulness of them.

New blue CItroen C4 Cactus driving towards you down a road

How practical is the interior of the new Citroën C4 Cactus?

Interior: 4/5

Front interior of the new Citroen C4 Cactus

The news here is not so much the upgraded instrumentation although the Sat Nav is much improved, easier to use and read.

The big news is the seats; drawing on Citroën’s fine, and well-earned reputation, for building some of the world’s most comfortable cars, which in this case, it certainly has. The suspension is a major part of this, but the bit you sit on plays a role too and so the seat foam is now thicker and you really nestle down into it. Supportive and cosseting, these seats will make such a big difference to your enjoyment of the car.  Advanced Comfort seats, they’re called and they more than live up their billing.

Citroen C4 Cactus Advanced Comfort Seats for driver and passenger

For a similar reason, the Citroën now has thicker glass and door seals to make the interior quieter when you’re on the move.

Options include a one-piece glass roof, there is some impressive quality leather on the top spec versions and there’s a decent range of options you can dip into to personalise your car.

The back seats are OK-ish if not outstanding in terms of space and the same goes of the boot area under the hatchback.

Rear passenger seats in new Citroen C4 Cactus

What's the new Citroën C4 Cactus like to drive?

Driving: 5/5

Thank heavens for a grown up car manufacturer; Citroën has realised that developing a family road car around a race track is as pointless as developing one the other way around.

How many times have I railed at ridiculously hard springs and dampers which ruin a ride, but which many car makers seemingly think are necessary to control big, heavy SUVs in corners. The C4 Cactus takes Citroën and its customers back to a much nicer way of travelling and a time when it was a world leader in this regard.

Blue Citroen C4 Cactus driving away from you at speed

The car comes with what are called `progressive hydraulic cushions’, a fancy name for little more than an extra cylinder of compressible gas on the damper rather than an expensive and complex air suspension.

Nevertheless, the improvement to the ride quality is noticeable and very welcome and lets it cover our shocking roads far better than most cars I have tested for many, many years now.

Is this a way forward for the market? I certainly hope so.

This is a family car, not a sports car, and it ticks my first requirement of such a car that it should be comfortable.

Let’s turn to the handling and ask if a soft ride means sloppy cornering? No, in a word, it doesn’t. The Citroën is brilliant at absorbing bumps and insulating you from them, but it’s also quite responsive and accurate in obeying your steering commands. It rolls a bit more than some other cars, but I wouldn’t call that an issue.

What safety features does the new Citroën C4 Cactus have?

Safety: 4/5

You get more for your money now in the safety area. As every new car now should be, the Citroën gets automatic braking fitted as standard, you know, that clever device that senses when the gap between you and the vehicle ahead is closing too fast and starts to put on the anchors while you’re still asleep at the wheel.

Lane departure warnings, if you drift left or right on a dual carriageway or motorway, traffic sign recognition and even an alert if the car thinks you’re nodding off (which would explain a lot of crashes) are there and the car is all the better for it.

Blue Citroen C4 Cactus side on outside a modern house

What engines does the new Citroen C4 Cactus have?

Engines: 4/5

Pretty standard fare from the Peugeot Citroën group, from its sweet little 1.2 litre three cylinder petrol engine in a variety of power outputs up to the 1.6 diesel.

At around 1,500 kgs the C4 Cactus is relatively light and this helps make the most of the power available, so the car, while hardly what you would call nippy, is plenty fast enough for our traffic and returns decent economy.

Manual and semi-automatic transmissions are available.

Should I buy a new Citroën C4 Cactus?

Verdict: 5/5

I’ve given it my top score, because I fully applaud the thinking behind this car and believe it delivers on the promise it holds out. That promise is for a sensible, family car which steers away from the modern fixation on making SUVs and cross overs and hatchbacks handle well at the expense of their ride.

At long last, a big and decent manufacturer has thought about what its average customers really want and appreciate. The Citroën C4 Cactus ride and seats really will make a difference to your enjoyment of the car.

A white and a blue cactus parked outside a modern house

Citroën C4 Cactus:

From £13,770

Car tested PureTech 82 (manual) Flair Edition - £18,645

0 to 60: 13 seconds

Top speed: 106 mph

Average mpg: 61

CO2: 107 g/km

Service intervals: 12 months/12,500 miles

Warranty: 36 months / 36,000 miles

Like what you see? Check out the Citroen C4 Cactus