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Citroën’s Cactus softens the blow

29.04.2015

IF YOU’RE like me, you’ve probably asked yourself why on earth a French vehicle manufacturer would name a car after a hardy desert plant. So, first things first. After hearing it from a marketing person I can tell you...and I’m not kidding. The Citroën C4 Cactus is named as such because - like the plant - it uses very little fuel (water in the case of the plant), to sustain itself while simultaneously protecting itself with what is called, “Airbump” on the doors and bumpers, much like the plant uses its prickly spines.

What’s a Cactus?

Well, it’s a crossover SUV that the brand is pitching as an alternative to the Golfs, Focuses and Mazda 3s of the world, while still competing with the Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke, Renault’s soon-to-be-launched Captur and the Kia Soul.

That exterior

The design of the Cactus has won a couple of awards overseas however, upon inspection, I have to conclude that this is a Marmite car, you either love it or you don’t. I am a fan of the design; it’s totally different with rounded front and rear ends and high-mounted LED strips draped over the wide front lights. The side profile is very SUV-ish with visible roof racks while those ’Airbump’ protective panels give it a very distinct look and prevent parking-lot dings; the rear-end sloped off into a black-clad centre piece, which houses the badge, rear lights and number plate, for a compact look.

Inside Cactus

The interior of the Cactus is as unique as the exterior with very few buttons, a nifty and capacious glove compartment and a familiar seven-inch infotainment screen, which plays host to the audio, navigation, air-conditioning and application services. The driver’s side features a full digital speedometer with trip meter and a flamboyant steering-wheel design. The interior is sure to please fans of the exterior, with decent quality and some utilitarian storage areas and plastic surfaces.

Model range

The equipment levels include the Feel and Shine with the former having two engine options. Standard features across the range include air-conditioning, four-speaker audio system with radio/MP3/Bluetooth/USB/AUX, cruise control with speed limiter, electric front windows/mirrors and a multifunction steering wheel.

The range-topping Shine model gets climate control, satellite navigation, a reverse camera, better audio system, auto headlights/windscreen wipers, front fog lights, rear privacy glass and interior mood lighting.

Powertrains

There are two engines on offer in the range, namely the 60kW/118Nm 1.3-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder and the 81kW/205Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder. I drove the turbo model at launch and achieved around 5.8 litres/100km on the test route versus the 4.7 litres/100km claimed figure.

These engines prove enough to power the Cactus along as it has a kerb weight of just 965kgs (1 020kgs for the turbo model), thanks to a lightweight platform, lighter rear section glass and an aluminium bonnet.

Safety features

The Cactus comes with six airbags: Driver, roof-mounted front passenger as well as dual side and dual curtain airbags. There’s also ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), tyre pressure monitor, a full-size spare wheel, Isofix child seat anchors and remote central locking.

Verdict

The Cactus is likely to be the most unique car that you’ll come across this side of a BMW i3 on the roads and that in itself is a great achievement for the brand. Whether we take to it locally remains to be seen. I am a fan of the Cactus though; it is quiet, comfortable and well-specified, while offering something totally unique to the local market place.

Warranty and service plan

The new model comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/100 000km service plan, as well as roadside assistance.

Pricing:

C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech 60kW – Feel R224 900
C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Turbo e-THP 81kW - Feel  R259 900
C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Turbo e-THP 81kW - Shine R284 900

 

Article written by Sean Nurse
29.04.2015
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