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Danni tests Citroen's latest lovable Cactus crossover
23 November 2018 by Danielle Bagnall
The Citroen Cactus was a bit of a showstopper when it was first introduced back in 2014 and to all intents and purposes it still is, keeping that infamous airbump technology and a unique design aesthetic.

Upon first introduction, Citroen placed the model in the crossover category, but this latest facelift and model range rejig now has it sat firmly in the budget hatchback market rivalling the likes of stiff competition in the form of the much-loved Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. The Citroen’s individual design won’t, of course, be to everyone’s tastes but it offers something different to the aforementioned rivals.

To the outside, the previous raised suspension, low roof and all-road-esque black wheel arch trim still feature and, while the airbump technology also remains, it’s been toned down somewhat for a more subtle look but still provides the same function – preventing those ever-irritating parking dents and bumps, saving money in the long run and helping to retain residual value. Roof rails are no longer standard, but are available as an option should you wish. Personalisation is still offered although slightly toned down, and there’s a choice of coloured highlights to break up the black plastic.

Just two trims are offered, Feel and Flair, and our test model was the Citroen C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 110 manual. The inside is just as quirky as before, retaining the cleverly-designed glovebox with 8.5-litres of storage capacity and no issue for a passenger's legs. Revisions include new split-folding rear seats as well as revised suspension for a more comfortable on-road experience. Flair adds the awesome panoramic sunroof, along with tinted rear windows and larger alloy wheels.

Getting inside, it still has a crossover feel due to the high suspension, but the seats can be lowered to make it easier to access. They’re also super comfortable, another welcomed revision to the new model, now offering adjustable lumbar support. It’s easier than ever to find your ideal driving position, too, now that the steering wheel can be adjusted for reach as well as up and down. The rear bench has been replaced with a split-folding system making better use of the space. Headroom is respectable, comfortably seating an adult of 6ft, but the rear windows that only pop out a few centimetres rather than having a fully-functional wind-up window can feel claustrophobic. ISOFIX is also standard in the rear.

The infotainment display is sparse of buttons, giving a minimalist design feel, and there’s an easy-to-use seven-inch touchscreen display to the centre featuring smartphone compatibility, with the only negative being that you have to exit whatever you’re in, such as satnav, to adjust the climate control. Plastics are as you’d expect, of high quality where required, with cheaper plastics to the lower panels that are more out of sight. Standard features include reverse camera, hill-start assist, tyre pressure monitor and cruise control. Boot space is respectable, offering 358-litres as it stands, rising to 1170-litres with seats folded flat.
Four engine options are available with the front-wheel drive model; two 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrol units offering 110bhp or 130bhp and two 1.5-litre diesel BlueDHi units offering 100bhp and 120bhp. All engine options are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, except the 120bhp diesel option which offers a six-speed automatic – also an option on the 110bhp PureTech variant.

On the road, the new Cactus is more comfortable than before thanks to its revised suspension, soaking up all manner of road imperfections. Sound insulation has also been improved and road noise is kept to a minimum. Our model, the lower-powered petrol, was strong in acceleration and didn’t feel overworked while making for a timely getaway from busy roundabouts. There is an element of body roll but nothing too dramatic. The manual gearbox isn’t the smoothest around and the square gear knob is unnecessary.

It’s also very good on fuel. Our test model, the 110bhp 1.2-litre PureTech, has a claimed 61.4mpg and 106g/km of CO2 emissions, while the 130bhp variant returns 56.5mpg with emissions of 113g/km. 61.4mpg, which feels ambitious but it was indeed good on fuel, averaging around 50mpg on a combined journey of around 250 miles. All Cactus models come with a 50-litre fuel tank. If you plan on adding the automatic gearbox then expect these figures to drop slightly. Visibility is also good when driving, despite the chunky look of some of the pillars.

All in all, the new Citroen C4 Cactus is a very good, quirky, family car option offering crossover qualities in hatchback form, with prices starting from £18,505 and personal lease deals from around just £215.99 per month, which even includes VAT!

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