The Citroen C4 Cactus, the production version of the Cactus concept shown at the Frankfurt motor show, has been spotted testing for the first time.
The C4 Cactus will be offered alongside the standard C4 in the same vein as the C4 Picasso. More Cactus spin-offs of existing models are expected to follow, too, if the new look is deemed a sales success. Citroen officials say they are optimistic that Cactus cars could eventually replace more conventional mainstream models.
"The C4 has many years ahead of it in its production cycle, so we have time to evalutate the success of the Cactus line," said Citroen boss Frederic Banzet.
"However, our research suggests it will be a sales success. We have chosen to develop a line that will be loved by some and hated by some. It is better that way, rather than being an average choice in an overcrowded market."
The Cactus concept is 4.21m long, 1.75m wide and 1.53m tall, with a relatively high ride height of 21cm. It is expected to sit on the firm's new EMP2 platform when it goes on sale.
We can see from these spy photos that the most obvious concept car element of the original show car, that its B-pillars and side and rear windows had been removed, have been replaced for production. However, this test mule retains the overall shape of the Cactus and is expected to retain elements of the show car's radical interior.
Highlights of the show car's interior include entirely digital controls, which sit on a slimline dashboard on two seperate screens, sofa-style front and rear benches, and the use of more natural materials on all surfaces. A central 8-inch touchscreen is used for all of the car's functions, such as sat-nav, air-con, audio and all driver aids.
The car also features what Citroen calls 'Airbumps' on its sides and around the bumpers. As well as breaking up the car's clean lines, these air-filled capsules are designed to absorb minor impacts, such as from a supermarket trolly, without scratching, and will make it to the production model.
Citroen describes the Cactus as "shedding the superflous", but is at pains to stress that is is not pushing to build budget cars in the style of Dacia. Instead, it says, it plans to use the new look to re-engage customers with the traditional Citroen values of comfort and style at a modest price premium over a standard C4.