From £12,5306

Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

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.

Although the Citroën C4 Cactus has the same wheelbase as a C4, its shorter overhangs make it shorter overall

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.

Back to top

The engine range includes 74bhp, 81bhp and 108bhp 1.2-litre petrols (all using PSA’s latest e-THP turbo) as well as a 99bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel.

Although the plastic body cladding and wheel arch protectors suggest otherwise, four-wheel drive isn’t offered. Three trim levels were offered at launch, comprising Touch, Feel and Flair, this has been embellished further with the inclusion of W, Flair Edition and a surfing special edition - the Ripcurl.

There are some interesting design features worthy of note, outside of the prominent Airbumps on the bodywork. For example, it's you might note that the lidded glovebox inside the Citroën C4 Cactus is so much more practical than a normal glovebox.

You might wonder why we don’t see storage solutions like this more widely – it’s because a car’s passenger airbag normally gets in the way. But the Cactus is the first commercial application of a roof-mounted airbag, making space across the whole of the fascia, on both driver and passenger sides.

Developed and supplied by TRW, the ‘bag in roof’ is fitted for both of the Cactus’s front seats. Mounted just under the headlining of the car immediately aft of the windscreen, the bag fills the gap between the glass and occupant completely as it inflates, acting as a better restraint than a normal airbag.

It also makes the dashboard easier to develop as well as smaller and thinner, because there is no need to design and test a specific airbag ‘door’ that opens with deployment.