With the increasing diversification of the new car market, finding a hitherto untapped niche is no easy thing.
But the Citroën C4 Cactus – which is not a C4 (we’ll come to that in a moment) and bears little resemblance to a real cactus – is no easy thing to define. The Cactus is such a new thing that the short of the history is this: revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2014 and on sale for four years, with a somewhat major restyle in 2018.
If you’re looking for inspiration that is affordable and practical, gives a loping drive and is unpretentious, the obvious source material is the 2CV. The Cactus isn’t a successor to that, but it is closer than most.
If there’s anything Cactus-like about the car, it’s the Citroën's most notable design feature: the soft pads on its flanks. They are, in some manner, like a Cactus’s spikes in that they’re a defence mechanism, but they visually differentiate the Cactus from the pack, too.
They add a ruggedness to the hatchback, although that isn’t backed up by a raised ride height or four-wheel drive.
Throw in an eye-catching price, then, and what do you have? A new niche? A DS-like sub-brand? Just what is its closest rival? We’ll investigate more in a moment, but suffice to say: who else could make this car than the company that brought us the DS and the 2CV?