Although there is quite a bit of choice available in what is effectively a pumped up C-segment hatch grouping, there is no chance Citroën offering will be lost in the clutter. The C4 Cactus not only has an unusual name, but its styling is so unique and off the wall that it will not be confused with anything else.
Most distinctive is the Airbump – pliable protective panels fitted along the sides and integrated with the front and rear bumpers, that add contrast and structure to the lines of the car, while also offering day-to-day protection against bumps and scratches that inevitably scar ones pride and joy.
The Airbump panels feature a stiff plastic surface and a second softer layer. The air encapsulated between the two layers acts as a protective cushion that absorbs impacts, protecting the bodywork from minor collisions at speeds of less than 4km/h.
The soft layer is made of supple thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is UV resistant and includes a small percentage of fibreglass to ensure that the shape is retained. Each Airbump is fixed to the doors of the C4 Cactus by plastic clips and secured by a vandal-proof screw accessible from the interior only, but without removing the trim panel, to make any subsequent replacements easier.
While black is the standard Airbump colour, the C4 Cactus can be accessorised by opting for Airbump panels in different colours: Grey, Dune and Chocolate. In addition to the prominent Airbumps there are also eye-catching roof racks and wheel designs, and a short rear overhang anchored to a bold, geometric C-pillar.
Inside the Cactus the somewhat edgy design theme continues. The spacious cabin hosts a fully digital interface. At the core of this arrangement is a large, seven-inch (17.8cm) full-colour touchscreen, augmented by a digital instrument display ahead of the driver.
Uniquely, the front passenger airbag is located in the roof to created more space and storage for front occupants. In the space where the airbag would be is now a large glovebox which has been finished in such a way as to reflect the design of a retro suitcase.
Two levels of equipment specification – Feel and Shine – are offered for the South African market, but even the more affordable Feel version has a decent list of standard equipment. That list includes air-conditioning, a four-speaker audio system with tuner and MP3 playback, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony and audio streaming, cruise control with speed limiter, electrically operated front windows and exterior mirrors, and a multifunction steering wheel.
The Shine versions get even more, including climate control, integrated satellite navigation, a reverse camera, enhanced audio system, auto-activating headlights and windscreen wipers, front fog lights, rear privacy glass and interior mood lighting.
The C4 Cactus has also been made significantly lighter when compared to the C4 hatch. The lighter platform and new-generation engines, allowed the C4 Cactus development team to shave 200kg.
As a result, the C4 Cactus boasts a trim kerb weight of just 965kg for the PureTech 60kW Feel model. The Feel and Shine versions powered by the PureTech 1.2 e-THP engines are only slightly heavier at 1 020kg.
The drivetrain options comprise a choice of two new-generation, high-efficiency PureTech three-cylinder petrol engines. The advanced power units are compact and lightweight, contributing to the C4 Cactus’ reduced mass and impressive efficiency.
At the entry level, the 1.2-litre PureTech unit has a maximum power output rating of 60Kw and 118Nm, while achieving an official combined claimed cycle fuel consumption figure of just 4.6 litres / 100km. The CO2 exhaust emissions come to just 107 g/km. This engine is only available on the entry-level C4 Cactus Feel model.
The more powerful 1.2-litre PureTech Turbo e-THP engine features turbocharging to boost output to 81kW and 205Nm. The result is swifter performance, but Citroën believe not at the cost of fuel efficiency: consumption creeps up to a claimed 4.7 litres / 100km for the combined cycle, linked to an identical CO2 emissions rating of 107 g/km. All these figures are of course according to the same emission fantasy world that all manufacturers use.
The 1.2 PureTech Turbo e-THP unit can be specified in conjunction with both the Feel and the Shine equipment levels, while a five-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels is standard across the range. Passive safety measures are standard across the range and include a generous six airbags – front driver, roof-mounted front passenger, as well as dual side and dual curtain airbags.
Active safety systems standard across the C4 Cactus range include ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency braking assistance (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC), while the 81kW Feel and Shine models add Hill Assist to the list.
The braking system of the C4 Cactus is engine-specific. The 1.2-litre PureTech 60kW Feel combines 266mm front discs with 203mm rear drums, while both the Feel and the Shine versions fitted with the PureTech Turbo e-THP 81kW engine link 266mm front discs to 249mm rear discs.
Tyre pressure monitoring, a full-size spare wheel, Isofix child seat tethers, electronic child locks, a transponder immobiliser, remote central locking and front seat belt pre-tensioners are all included on all C4 Cactus models.
With its daring styling and a design that optimally reconciles the attractive and the functional, the C4 Cactus succeeded in winning the most votes. The coveted international award recognizes the creativity and the courage of Citroën’s designs.
“The new Citroën C4 Cactus is a landmark product for the brand, both internationally and here in South Africa,” says Francis Harnie, managing director of Peugeot-Citroën SA. “It’s not only a bold statement in automotive design that breaks the conventional mould, but also a shining example of how innovation and intelligent engineering can produce a vehicle that delivers new and effective solutions.”
Harnie says the C4 Cactus will change the way people consider the normal categorisation of C-segment cars. “It’s a compact hatchback and a spacious SUV rolled into one, but linked to strong design appeal and an overriding sense of innovation.
“Perhaps most importantly, it addresses running costs by delivering exceptional fuel economy, yet remains engaging and fun to drive,” Harnie added. “It allows you to live a unique adventure every day.”
The pricing includes a three-year/ 100 000km warranty, a five-year/ 100 000km service plan, as well as roadside assistance. There is an option to upgrade to the FreeDrive or five-year / 100 000km warranty extension.