Citroen C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 110
Ask anyone familiar with the Cactus range to describe them and, nine times out of ten, the response will be ‘pretty quirky’. The French carmaker made an image statement with the crossover when it was launched back in 2014, clearly differentiating itself from the competition with its looks and styling. One of the ways it did so was through the power of bubbles, but no more…
Yes, that’s right, the new Citroën C4 Cactus is bubbleless – it no longer comes with the iconic airbumps that divided consumer opinion much in the same way as marmite. But this does not mean the car looks normal.
Sure, it has maintained its distinctly weird Cactus appearance with the low stance and high suspension, yet somehow the angles seem crisper and sharper than the previous generation, offering a sportier feel.
But that sporty feel is instantly lost as soon as you enter the vast cabin. There seem to be acres of space to stretch out into, emphasised by the minimalist approach to the interior. A slim centre console sits between driver and front passenger, absent of the fancy haptic dials and controllers that come on many new cars today. There are also very few buttons to twiddle – Citroen has instead opted to attach a few to the bottom of the seven inch touchscreen.
The materials are kept relatively simple too. Some sort of embossed pattern is placed on top of the enormous glove box to provide a bit of character and the seats have some funky stitching going on, but otherwise everything is unadorned.
The simplicity is endearing, and makes a nice change from the busy interiors that currently dominate the new car market. It also makes the Cactus easy to jump in and just drive, rather than faffing around with a list of settings longer than both my arms before setting off.
And the technology that is included works well, apart from the hill start assist function which did not play ball during my week with the car. Aside from that, the active park assist function is smooth and by no means daunting to use, while the reversing camera makes manoeuvring far easier. And thankfully, the driver attention alert doesn't shout at you every two minutes, though it will give off a warning if you decide to gaze into the distance to ponder life and its complexities for too long.
The vast majority of the tech on board is standard. The upper trim, which is called Flair, adds front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, grip control and some swanky leather options.
With a right foot to the floor, the Cactus gives a familiar growl that is indicative of petrol engines originating from across the English Channel. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder has a surprising amount of life in it, but also has the ability to quietly cruise down a motorway at 70mph without drowning out the husky tones of Bob Dylan. Coupled with the ultra comfy seats and ample legroom, this makes long journeys easy to endure.
It won’t blow you away, but the Cactus does many things well. Its interior space should be enticing for growing families, and its no-nonsense nature is perfect for those who don’t care to be smothered in tech. The big money question is: could you buy a Cactus without bubbles?