2016 Citroen C4 Cactus Exclusive Review

2016 Citroën C4 Cactus Exclusive Review

You’ve spent your hard earned cash to buy the latest cool car from French manufacturer Citroën, and the last thing you want is to have it scratched by an errant shopping trolley. Those little paintwork injuries can certainly take the gloss off your purchase and no car seems immune… Until now!

The 2016 Citroën C4 Cactus has those annoying supermarket car park bumps covered with heavy duty protective guards along both sides. There are thousands of colours and finishes available and if you choose brown airbump strips, the look is reminiscent of those ‘woody’ wagons so popular with the outdoors crowd in the US in the 1950s!

Except that these side guards are made from some highly eco-friendly scuff resistant material and don’t look like the faux wood panels of a bygone era.

The interior is unlike any other you’ll find on the market. Thanks to a clever positioning of the front passenger airbag in the roof lining, the dash has heaps more space available for a glove-box. This one is bigger than usual and opens upwards for easy access.

Seating is gloriously comfortable in the front, comfortable but not spacious in the back. There are straps for closing the front doors, which somehow brought to mind Citroëns of a previous era. So does the ride.

The Cactus seems to lope along, and the design team say they were inspired by the legendary 2CV, though cars have come a long way since then!

The stop/start function is one of the smoothest on the market, and claimed fuel consumption for the 1.6-litre four cylinder turbo diesel I tested, is a creditable 3.6L/100 km. During my time with the car, I managed about 4.3L/100 km.

There are one or two features however, or lack of them, that take some getting used to like the lack of cup holders. I found one but passengers might have to fend for themselves.

Or like the hinged pop-out windows on the back doors. Haven’t seen these since the early Minis…or was it the Datsun 120Y?

Then there’s the handbrake. It pulls upright, between the front seats, and feels for all the world like a gear selector.

The gear selector is a push button arrangement that’s in the centre of the dash - three choices only: D -Drive, R - Reverse, N - Neutral.

Oh, and once you’ve selected Drive, something unusual happens, courtesy of an automated manual transmission.

Designed to save weight and improve fuel economy, this transmission is unlike anything else. The car changes gears at a leisurely pace whenever it feels like it! At first it’s like having an unseen passenger sitting beside the driver using the clutch and shifting gears on a whim.

However, the company assures me the software takes note of your driving style and gradually adapts to your habits. I must admit, by the end of my time with the Cactus, we were getting on fine and I no longer noticed the gear changes.

Those quibbles aside, this really is a charming vehicle that gets plenty of positive comment from bystanders. If you’re in the market for a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 or the Renault Captur, but want an extra dose of fun and style, take the Citroën C4 Cactus for a spin.

It’s exotic and there’s every chance you’ll find it engaging as well.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 Citroën C4 Cactus Exclusive

Engine: 1.6 litre Turbo Diesel developing 68kW and 230Nm

Transmission: Sports Automatic Single Clutch

Warranty: 6 years unlimited kilometres

Safety: Not yet Rated

Origin: Spain

Price: From $29,990

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