Frugality, style, quirkiness and innovation – that’s what the new Citroën C4 Cactus is all about. It replaces the previous C4, which played in the C-segment hatchback ambit. The new Cactus hopes to gain traction in the fiercely competitive crossover C-segment; which includes the likes of the Nissan Juke, Ford EcoSport and Kia Soul.
We’ll get to the matter of those strange “air bumps” on the side later, but first let’s look at some of its less obvious innovations. Such as the passenger airbag – which has been relegated to the roof of the car, rather than in the dashboard. This saves space. Six airbags are standard across the board.
In terms of safety features, the Cactus has anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency braking assistance (EBA) and electronic stability control (ESC). Higher grade models also get hill start assist. The list of features is truly extensive, with safety items like a tyre pressure monitor, touchscreen infotainment system and full digital instrumentation. There are two engines; both 1.2-litre units in different states of tune. The first produces 60kW and 118Nm while the turbocharged version has an output of 81kW and 205Nm. The former has a claimed consumption figure of 4.6l/100km, while the boosted model claims to sip 4.7l/100km.
Citroën says that the turbocharged model provides fizzy performance, but not at the cost of efficiency – both have nearly identical Co2 emissions ratings of 107g/km. Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The Cactus has a spacious, “feel good” interior with plenty “graphic” elements to get excited about – like that clear, functional infotainment screen as well as cues like the interior door handles which look like the straps on a suitcase.
Now about those “air bumps”. According to Citroën, they don’t only look cool, but also serve to protect the car from scratches and scuffs you might sustain in the average parking lot. They are resistant to impact at speeds of up to 40km/h. Prices start at R224 900 for the 1.2 Feel; while the 1.2 Feel in turbo guise costs R259 900. The top of the range Shine model costs R284 900. Look out for our driving impressions of the Citroën C4 Cactus in the print edition of IgnitionLIVE next week Thursday, free in The Times and Sowetan newspapers.