Go to Paris and Citroen’s plastic armoured Cactus is everywhere.
That’s because the frogs like to bump park but the funny thing is, apart from abbreviated plastic bumpers, there’s virtually no plastic armour on the front or the back, just the sides.
That’s OK for preventing “dooring” in a shopping centre but doesn’t address the touch parking issue at all.
So, what’s the point really, especially here where we (allegedly) have more respect for other people’s property?
Whatever, the Citroen C4 Cactus is still with us after a couple of years albeit only in one model and it’s unlikely the new generation model will come here based on current Cactus sales.
Thankfully the petrol now has a 6-speed auto hooked up to the three pot turbo engine. Earlier versions had a five speed manual only.
At $26,990, practical Cactus isn’t bad value as long as you don’t mind driving a car with a stupid name.
Side “Airbumps” as they are called dominate the car’s appearance with their armadillo-like texture and the rest of the car is pretty standard fare in terms of styling being a two box wagon sort of thing with a slightly raised ride height.
The front has a friendly, smiley face with thin headlights while the rear is like a generic wagon from any manufacturer.
Citroen offer Cactus in some bright colours and it does have cut through on the street.
There are four doors and a rear hatch and the test car had a set of roof rails lifting its appearance.
Inside is quite funky in design with a large centre touch screen/controller through which just about every function is operated.
There is a bin set into the dash which also has rubber buttons in front of the passenger to prevent items from sliding when cornering.
The wheel has a number of functions and some satellite stalks control various features.
It’s all light grey/dark grey plastic inside with some painted surfaces peeping through which looks a touch cheap.
But the Citroen Cactus is easy to drive and once you get used to the touch screen icons, it’s full steam ahead.
A decent amount of room is provided inside but not enough cup holders. The load space is good, capable of taking four medium suitcases perhaps.
I got my pushbike in the Cactus without removing the front wheel. That’s a big tick for a small SUV.
Cactus Exclusive, as it’s called, gets a decent amount of luxury kit and is right up there in terms of features with competitors.
- Climate control
- Auto headlights and wipers
- Reversing camera
- Rear park assist
- 17-inch alloys
- Height adjustable headlights
- Heated exterior mirrors
- Sport and snow drive modes
- Digital instrumentation
Drive and Engine
Power comes from a three cylinder, petrol turbo engine with direct fuel injection and variable cam timing.
It’s an award winning high-tech unit capable of returning 5.1-litres/100km in the 6-speed auto.
Drive goes to the front wheels and no AWD version is available. Interesting tech’ includes an exhaust particle filter that reduces tail pipe emissions like a diesel.
Maximum power is 81kW while peak torque taps out at 205Nm – adequate in a car that weighs 1125kg.
Cactus has a conventional strut front suspension with a simple torsion beam at the rear and disc brakes all round. Ride and handling is quite tidy for a suburban runabout type of vehicle. It has crisp steering, strong brakes and flat cornering while being able to soak up poor roads without jolting.
The auto is good and I think is the only option now.
I was surprised at how quiet Cactus is once a desired speed is attained. It warbles on the way up but once there, is quiet as a mouse.
And there’s plenty of get go too despite the diminutive 1.2-litre capacity.
The C4 scores a 5-star ANCAP rating but the Cactus isn’t tested so, based on that, I’d say Cactus is a 5-star car. But, it doesn’t have any advanced driver assist technology at all apart from a reverse camera and tyre pressure monitoring.
That would all come with the new Cactus that lobbed in Europe last year and hasn’t made it here yet.
I like the adjustable head lights, hill start assist and brake assist while the heated exterior mirrors are handy on misty mornings.
- Practical shape and size
- Punchy engine
- Good fuel economy
- Auto transmission now on petrol engine
- Airbumps might prevent dooring
- Roomy interior
- Quiet running on the highway
- Decent amount of luxury kit
- Capable ride/handling
Not So Good Bits
- Can’t turn off stop/start
- Looks whacky
- Name is a problem down the pub
- No advanced driver assist technology
- Too much grey in cheap looking interior
Hmmm, I want to like Cactus but couldn’t own a car with this name. The armour just accentuates the issue.
Look past that and Cactus is a practical size small SUV offering plenty of kit for not a lot of money.
It goes and handles well and uses minimal fuel. But I fear the competition is too hot for Cactus.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus
- Engine: 1.2L three-cylinder turbo petrol producing 81kW/205Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Not tested
- Origin: France
- Price: from $26,990