From £12,5307
Still let down by poor quality, unexceptional value and strange steering, but the engine and handling don’t offend

Our Verdict

Citroën C4 Cactus

Gallic quirkiness meets pragmatism in the new crossover hatchback

What is it?

The turbocharged petrol version of the new Citroën C4 Cactus crossover. It’s without question the engine to plump for if, like us, you’ve been won over by the pragmatic charm of the new Citroën Cactus, but you’re concerned about the underlying substance. 

Most of the Cactus’ failings, documented well in our full road test on the BlueHDi diesel variant, are also present in Citroën’s Puretech 110 version – but not all of them. And the ones that are present don’t seem so severe.

What's it like?

Even with 108bhp, the Cactus’ performance is only adequate – but it’s much less vulnerable to criticism than the diesel on response and flexibility. Like the BlueHDI, the Puretech feels long-geared; it splutters and threatens to stall at much below 15mph in 2nd gear, for example. 

But it also pulls cleanly, evenly and fairly smoothly from around 1500rpm all way up to beyond 5000rpm, making the car easy to drive despite its long legs. Additionally, those long legs also easily deliver 45mpg in the real world, and better than 50mpg if you’re feeling thrifty.

That the engine is so much smaller and lighter than its diesel counterpart (1.2 litres, three cylinders, aluminium block versus 1.6 litres, four cylinders and an iron block) also manifests in the Cactus ride and handling, which is not only a touch more settled but also more precise.

The car’s steering is still oddly paced, and lacking in feedback and centre feel – but initial ride control is slightly better than in the diesel, and high-speed directional stability likewise.

You don’t need to correct this car as much as the diesel during a motorway cruise, and don’t find its ride so often disturbed by innocuous-looking lumps and bumps. Somehow, it’s just better sorted.

Should I buy one?

Instead of the diesel, absolutely. In the grander scheme, there are still plenty of better-driving compact crossovers than this – but with this engine, the Citroën is certainly better-mannered than our road test car. 

Considering its innovative, characterful cabin and its ebullient alternative appeal, an acceptable driving experience may be all the Cactus needs to seal the deal – and acceptable, in this guise, would certainly be the way to describe it.

Citroën C4 Cactus Puretech 110 Flair 

Price £17,190; 0-62mph 9.3sec; Top speed 117mph; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 107g/km; Kerbweight 1190kg; Engine 3 cyls in line, 1199cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 108bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 151lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
27

21 August 2014
This car is the automotive definition of "contrived". Lets have some genuine engineering innovation Citroen not stuck on gimmicks over what seems a very average car.

22 August 2014
jonfortwo wrote:

This car is the automotive definition of "contrived". Lets have some genuine engineering innovation Citroen not stuck on gimmicks over what seems a very average car.

It does have some innovation, though you wouldn't know it if you've only read Autocar's vaguely complimentary-through-gritted-teeth attitude towards it.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

21 August 2014
The dashboard has a whiff of high tech Lada Samara about it too...................

21 August 2014
I really did take to this car when it was fist mentioned. The whole shape, idea, and presumed ethos.

I am pretty sure that the simple oblong instrument panel (in front of the driver), is a similar shape to the 2CVs that I remember. The 2CV front windows were also hinged, but horizontally and at half height. There is probably some reason why the Cactus rear windows have to be front hinged, rather than top hinged.

I really don’t “get” the ski-roof rails, other than they add some “substance” (height), to what would otherwise be a merely “jacked-up” normal hatchback (photo number 3 of 18).

I’ve yet to try the vehicle myself, but as merely a “jacked-up” normal hatchback, this implies a legs-forward driving position - rather than the knees and hips at the 90 degrees angle (that I prefer), which is associated with (true) “cross-overs” and SUVs.

I wish Citroen every success with the Cactus, but customers are going to have to walk-past an awful lot of other cars - before they part with £17k !!

22 August 2014
RCT V wrote:

I really did take to this car when it was fist mentioned. The whole shape, idea, and presumed ethos.

I am pretty sure that the simple oblong instrument panel (in front of the driver), is a similar shape to the 2CVs that I remember. The 2CV front windows were also hinged, but horizontally and at half height. There is probably some reason why the Cactus rear windows have to be front hinged, rather than top hinged.

I really don’t “get” the ski-roof rails, other than they add some “substance” (height), to what would otherwise be a merely “jacked-up” normal hatchback (photo number 3 of 18).

I’ve yet to try the vehicle myself, but as merely a “jacked-up” normal hatchback, this implies a legs-forward driving position - rather than the knees and hips at the 90 degrees angle (that I prefer), which is associated with (true) “cross-overs” and SUVs.

I wish Citroen every success with the Cactus, but customers are going to have to walk-past an awful lot of other cars - before they part with £17k !!

I very much doubt the most popular Cactus models will be costing anywhere near £17k. More will go for the low-mid spec models, as is often the case with Citroens. At that price point it makes more sense. Your point about the roof rails... every other car in this class is 'merely a jacked-up normal hatchback'.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

21 August 2014
I want to like the cactus, but really i dont. Based on a C3 and with cheap features like pop out windows i expect it to be C3 priced. £17k is a lot for a car based on a cheap platform, but i guess cheap for a car from the next size up.....0 to 60 in just over 9 seconds sounds good and peak torque at 1500 rpm sounds appealing, but equally not being able to drive in second below 15 mph sounds as if below the peak torque there is almost none, and that doesnt appeal at all.....I still struggle with the ideal of touch screens too, and surely the digital dashboard could be configured to give a rev counter too?......Maybe once the discounting gets going i would look at this differently if you actually pay £13.5K, but maybe there are plenty of people who want a quirky non conformist looking car based on something really rather dull.

21 August 2014
can we have more Focus sized cars that weigh the same as a Ford Fiasco please.

Nice one Citroen and a fair enough review.

MrJ

21 August 2014
I don't really want too many gimmicks or features, but appreciate the roof rails being standard - for bikes and canoes they are really useful.

So, despite the somewhat lukewarm reviews, I'm looking forward to a test drive, and rather hope the Cactus manages to convince me.

21 August 2014
"The Citroen has the best steering; it's generally light, which helps around town, but still provides more feedback than others in fast corners." - - In that comparo they also were testing Kia Soul, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. WhatCar moreover reckoned the Cactus the most refined of the lot, measuring the lowest noise levels at all speeds. They did though notice that the Citroen didn't like bumps when corners were taken at a speed. Which implies soft damping. But otherwise they reckoned the Citroen Cactus the best overall.

21 August 2014
Get you facts right Matt - PSA's 1.6 HDI has an ALUMINIUM block NOT an iron one !!!!

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