There’s a bit of subterfuge involved in the nomenclature of the C4 Cactus, which is regrettable because, in every other way, this is an entirely straightforward, honest small car. The Cactus isn’t a C4 at all.
Developed around PSA Peugeot-Citroën’s ‘PF1’ supermini platform, mechanically this is actually another bigger sibling for the C3. Although the car’s wheelbase is a match for the Citroen C4’s, its width is identical to that of the C3 Picasso.
The car sits slightly uncomfortably in whichever established market segment you place it, which Citroën can take as a compliment to originality.
The French firm argues that this is just a ruggedised, right-sized, budget C-segment hatchback – a bit like a roughty-toughty Skoda Rapid Spaceback. To us, it seems a closer match for the burgeoning B-segment crossover market – next to the Dacia Duster, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.
Either way, the Cactus is plenty of car for the money – largely because it represents back-to-basics, necessity-driven motoring done with a twist of Gallic flamboyance. If a small French car doesn’t absolutely need it, the Cactus won’t have it. But the one thing that every small French car needs to do is stand out – and the Cactus certainly does that.
Supermini underpinnings were chosen because they’re robust, cheap and, most important, light. Citroën claims that this car would have been 200kg heavier if it had been built on the larger ‘EMP2’ platform.