You either loved the old Citroën C4 Cactus or you hated it. There were those who really enjoyed the quirky looks, the unique interior, and the added Airbump door protection; then there were those who thought it was unattractive, vague to drive, and that the added exterior protection was one of the ugliest inventions in automotive history.
While we never thought it was the prettiest car in the world, nor the most inspiring to drive, we loved Citroën’s desire to do something different. Surely doing something quirky, something different every now and then should be celebrated?
Now we have this, the refreshed C4 Cactus. Unlike many mid-life updates, though, the new C4 Cactus has been given a lot more than a new set of wheels, bumpers and headlights. It has the familiar shape, but looks noticeably different from every angle: the front bumper and lights are new, the roof rails have been banished, the rear end is completely different, and the polarising Airbumps are all but gone, now much smaller and much less obvious. While the changes will almost certainly make this updated Cactus appeal to a wider range of customers, there’s no denying some of its character, a bit of its quirky charm, has gone. With the C4 hatchback now discontinued from Citroën’s lineup, the C4 Cactus has been tasked at appealing to a wider range of customers than before.
However, it’s important to remember the new C4 Cactus is more than a design overhaul. Citroën’s focus on comfort has been pushed further with this refreshed car than with any other model in the company’s current line up. Inside you’ll find a gently updated interior, but with new Advanced Comfort Seats, and underneath the car’s bodywork you’ll discover Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension.
Let’s start with the seats first of all. Under normal circumstances you’d think someone was crazy if they started poking and prodding at a car’s seats, but it feels like a very normal thing to do in the new C4 Cactus. The seats are unbelievably comfortable, and not at the expense of support. Combined with the fact that the C4 Cactus’ interior feels quite spacious and light, and there isn’t a huge amount of road or wind noise at speed, it is a remarkably relaxing and enjoyable place to spend time. The sense of comfort is further reinforced by the suspension. The new Progressive Hydraulic Cushions dissipate more energy from bumps than the standard suspension alone, and the result is a level of genuine comfort that few other cars can match. It’s a really rather impressive package of enhancements. As for the engine, the car we feature here is fitted with the familiar 98bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit, which has been carried over from the outgoing car. It’s the only diesel powerplant currently available in the new C4 Cactus, though a BlueHDi 120 version with an automatic transmission will join the line-up later this year. Performance isn’t exactly mind blowing, and the engine itself needs to be kept within the 1,750 to 3,500rpm power band to really feel happy, which is sometimes a difficult task when the five-speed manual gearbox’s ratios are so long. Thankfully the engine is pretty quiet and refined, and the ultimate reward is a claimed 76.3mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle.
The design overhaul has certainly made the new C4 Cactus less distinct, but Citroën’s focus on comfort levels has really come to fruition. It may well blend better into the background as a more mainstream offering in the C-segment class, but the driving experience is anything but average, and makes this mid-sized Citroën more unique than ever before.
On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £18,995 to £20,895
Bodystyles | 5-door hatchback
Engines | 1.6 (98bhp)
Trim levels | Feel, Flair
Also consider | Hyundai i30, Renault Megane
Model tested | Flair BlueHDi 100
Price | £20,895
Built in | Madrid, Spain
Bodystyle | 5-door hatchback, 5-seats
Layout | Front-wheel-drive
Powerplant | 1,560cc, 4-cylinder, 8-valve, turbo diesel
Transmission | 5-speed manual
Stop-start | Yes SCR | Yes
Max power | 98bhp @ 3,750rpm
Max torque | 187lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Top speed | 114mph
0-62mph | 10.7secs
CO2 emissions | 96g/km (Euro-6.1)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 65.7/85.6/76.3mpg
Fuel tank size | 45 litres
Range | 755 miles
Insurance group | 16 BIK rate | 24%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,170/1,979mm
Boot space (min/max) | 358/1,170 litres
Kerb/max towing weight | 1,080/950kg