The overhaul is one of the most significant mid-life changes Citroën has ever wrought on a model and will significantly change the appearance and dynamic appeal of the £16,000 hatchback.
Grabbing the headlines is the first European introduction of Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC) suspension, billed as adding a "magic carpet ride" to the C4 Cactus, and a new design subject to 20 patent filings.
PHC adds a pair of secondary hydraulic dampers into each coil-sprung suspension corner, where they replace the traditional rubber bumpstops at the top and bottom of the wheel travel.
Because the damper progressively cushions the wheel travel at the two extremes of movement, engineers have specified more comfort-oriented springs and dampers for the main job of isolating the car body from the road.
“With its unique personality, the new C4 Cactus is the last word in ultra-comfortable hatchbacks, giving the impression of gliding over uneven ground,” claims Citroën.
Autocar tested PHC last year in a C4 Cactus and praised its compliant ride and tidy steering, but cautioned that the prototype’s dive under braking needed to be brought better under control.
Comfort is a word that Citroën proudly attaches to the new Cactus, so drivers who never got on with the seats in the current car will be ecstatic to discover new chairs designed with high-density foam to maintain their shape on longer drives.
A more visually obvious change to the revamped Cactus is its subtly applied Airbumps, which have moved from their prominent bodyside positions to the side sills. “The slimline Airbumps fully encircle the body and make it the best-protected compact hatchback," says Citroën.
The reduced Airbumps, less fussy front and rear bumper mouldings and new LED headlamps largely shed the ‘tough urban car’ image that the C4 Cactus was launched with and move it into a more sophisticated-looking styling theme.
Citroën describes the new look as “flowing and well-balanced, with no aggression or one-upmanship”.
A sign that Citroën might be eyeing a slightly more rarified market position for the C4 Cactus is reinforced by the sole new engine to the range – a 128bhp petrol version of the 1.2-litre three-cyinder PureTech and available at launch only with a six-speed manual transmission.
An 80bhp 1.2 PureTech petrol is the entry engine, with a 108bhp 1.2 petrol and 98bhp 1.6 diesel the other options. A 118bhp diesel with automatic transmission arrives next summer.
Also on the equipment list are 12 driver assistance systems, such as lane departure, blindspot warning, road sign recognition and automatic emergency braking.