French manufacturer answers economy challenge with Cactus-based Airflow concept, which features a Hybrid Air powertrain and lightweight materials
Darren Moss
2 October 2014

Citroën has revealed its answer to the French government’s 141mpg challenge with a new concept car based on the C4 Cactus.

The C4 Cactus Airflow 2L is capable of returning more than 141mpg, says Citroën, and weighs just 865kg – 100kg less than the standard Cactus. The car made its public debut at the Paris motor show.

Power for the concept comes from a Hybrid Air powertrain – of the same type used by the Peugeot 2008 Hybrid Air prototype which Autocar drove earlier this summer. A prototype of the technology was shown on a Citroën C3 concept car at the Geneva motor show last year.

The powertrain comprises a 3-cylinder 1.2-litre Puretech 81bhp petrol engine – already available as part of the Cactus range – plus a hydraulic pump and air storage tank mounted at the rear of the car. An epicyclic transmission is also used. 

Aside from the obvious economy advantages of using this hybrid setup, Peugeot says it has also reduced frictional losses inside the 1.2-litre Puretech engine thanks to a new internal coating and by using low-viscosity oil.

Three driving modes can be selected, with two utilising either air or petrol power exclusively, and the third using a combination of the two.

Sitting on new 19-inch low rolling resistance tyres developed by Michelin, the C4 Cactus Airflow 2L concept features lightweight materials including aluminium and steel, while carbonfibre features on the Cactus’ ‘Airbump’ panels.

Standard lighting clusters have been replaced by LED units, while a new lengthened spoiler features alongside a rear-mounted air extractor, plus force-activated shutters on the alloy wheels to reduce air flow.

In terms of performance, Citroën says the Hybrid Air-powered Cactus is close to the Puretech 110-powered model. That means a 0-62mph sprint time of around 9.5 seconds, plus a top speed of close to 120mph.

The concept answers a challenge set by the French government to put a vehicle capable of returning 141mpg into production by 2020. 

Other vehicles revealed to answer the challenge include Renault’s Eolab concept – which is claimed to be capable of returning 262mpg – and Peugeot’s 208 Hybrid Air. All three cars have been seen at this week's Paris show.

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Our Verdict

Citroën C4 Cactus

Gallic quirkiness meets pragmatism in the new crossover hatchback

17 September 2014
- on the official short journey test using "borrowed" energy from the previous journey. But the fact is, its consumption in the real world will be much more normal, especially since a hybrid does nothing at steady cruising speeds except add weight and increase consumption slightly.
I'm a great fan of hybrids, but I hate to see their advantages exaggerated by the EU fuel test procedure. And isn't it refreshing to see to see a genuinely new shape with simple, functional and uncluttered lines.

17 September 2014
Well said , sir ! Citroen are to be applauded for introducing a car as unique as the Cactus in looks alone, never mind the simpler interior design as well. They must be one of the few manufacturers who don't allow themselves to be overly influenced by the dreaded "focus group" and who are brave enough to believe that their designs can stand on their own merits. Personally, I wish they would hurry up and actually produce a HybridAir vehicle as it must be the way to go rather than using expensive batteries that require expensive recycling etc at the end of their limited lives, albeit some 10 years probably.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

18 September 2014
LP in Brighton wrote:

- on the official short journey test using "borrowed" energy from the previous journey. But the fact is, its consumption in the real world will be much more normal, especially since a hybrid does nothing at steady cruising speeds except add weight and increase consumption slightly.
I'm a great fan of hybrids, but I hate to see their advantages exaggerated by the EU fuel test procedure. And isn't it refreshing to see to see a genuinely new shape with simple, functional and uncluttered lines.

The hybrid system doesn't need to do anything on a steady cruise. Thats when you use the least amount of fuel (ignoring going down hill) The hybrid system helps for acceleration which by far is the worst fuel guzzler.

18 September 2014
The car is called 'Airflow', and it's obviously had serious amounts of work put into advanced aerodynamic features and yet the article doesn't even use the words aerodynamics or drag coefficient? There are even pictures of the car in the wind tunnel and yet the main focus of the article seems to the powertrain and lightweight materials. It's about time people realised how important aerodynamics is to this kind of vehicle.

18 September 2014
Here we see the Cactus as a lowered, streamlined vehicle without the contrasting colours on the AirBumps, and I don't think it works at all. They could try this with a DS3 or even a C5 and it would suit it far, far better.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

18 September 2014
for those of us who have three children, two dogs and tow a 26ft long twin axle caravan on our holidays around Europe! And will it fit 500kg's of logs in the boot and then transport seven children to a party or football match?

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