Citroën has re-engineered its C4 Cactus hatchback with new, comfort-oriented suspension, revamped Airbump styling and a flagship 128bhp petrol engine. Prices start from £17,265 and first deliveries are due in April.
The range kicks off with the 81bhp 1.2-litre petrol-engined Feel Edition, priced at £700 below the 109bhp Feel. The cheaper, lower-powered car will only be available until the end of May, before the Puretech 110 Feel becomes the range's entry point, priced at just under £18,000.
The range is topped out by the 98bhp BlueHDi Flair diesel, at £20,895, although the most powerful model is the 128bhp Puretech 130 petrol, priced from £20,665.
Standard automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blindspot monitor should all contribute to a bolstered safety rating from Euro NCAP, while a reversing camera, road sign recognition and keyless entry and start are also among the standard driver assistance systems.
The overhaul to the C4 Cactus 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 hatchback.
Grabbing the headlines is the European introduction of Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC) suspension, which is billed as adding a "magic carpet ride", and a new design subject to 20 patent filings.
PHC adds a pair of secondary hydraulic dampers into each coil-sprung suspension corner, replacing 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.
“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 updated model, so drivers who never got on with the seats in the current car will be pleased to discover new ones designed with high-density foam to maintain their shape on longer drives.
A more visually obvious change to the revamped C4 Cactus is its Airbumps, which have moved from their prominent bodyside positions to the side sills.
The reduced Airbumps, along with less fussy front and rear bumper mouldings and new LED headlights, largely shed the ‘tough urban car’ image that the C4 Cactus was launched with and move it toward a more sophisticated-looking styling theme.
Citroën describes the new look as “flowing and well balanced, with no aggression or one-upmanship”.