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Spikey Citroen Cactus paves way for style

01.06.2015

THE French are known for their eccentric delicacies, their expensive wines, celebrated landmarks, contemporary fashion and charming cars. Every country of manufacturing origin has a certain charisma and identity to live up to when it comes to the vehicles rolling off the factory floor.

German carmakers, for instance, are known for their cliché quality, American cars are known for grunt and Italians are passionistas, while the Japanese outclass others by incorporating technology into their cars. The French, however, take one thing very seriously – style!

The Citroën C4 Cactus - on test at Autodealer - is no exception. Boldly styled to leave a lasting impression, the Cactus is one of those rare, awe-inspiring cars.

A considerable amount of thought went into naming this C4 outfit the Cactus, which is quite honestly appropriate for a number of reasons:

Firstly, the car grows on you – slowly, like a Cactus – up to the point where you constantly have to steal a peek when you walk away from it at a parking lot. Secondly, thanks to the Airbump technology (the black panels surrounding the exterior of the car), it affords greater protection against small bumps and scratches. According to Citroën, every design aspect on the Cactus is used to optimise functionality and efficiency.

Several design cues are used on the Cactus to emphasise a robust appearance, while also increasing the stylistic appeal of the car. The Airbump technology is one instance where form follows the function of this design feature as it is also used as the style signature of the C4. The uniquely styled rims also add to the look of the Cactus with four smooth-cornered square shapes used as the design outline.

The unconventionally conceived C4 is smaller in physical stature as it competes in the C-segment hatchback division. Regardless of sacrificing some rear legroom for a bigger boot capacity, the 2 595mm wheelbase ensures a reasonably roomy interior for occupants.

On the inside of the Cactus, is a surprising amount of modern simplicity. The centre console is pleasantly uncluttered with only the essential hands-on-deck. The seven-inch touchscreen is used to control 90 percent of all electrical functions with an astonishingly easy-to-use interface. A digital display instrument is used on the driver’s side to show all the necessary information required, while driving.

The stylistic, attention to detail extended to the smaller effects inside the cabin. The glove box (cubbyhole) received special attention adding to the spiky ambience of the Cactus. The inner grab-handles are styled to look like the handles of an old-school travel bag, minus the heavy luggage.

Both the Feel and Shine derivatives (the latter being on test at Autodealer) come with the Citroën 1.2-litre PureTech engine. The Feel range boasts both a naturally aspirated engine producing 60kW as well as a turbocharged option producing 81kW. The range-topping Shine also received forced induction by means of a turbo, similarly delivering 81kW of power and an impressive 205Nm of torque. The power is transferred to the wheels using a smooth-shifting, five-speed manual gearbox.

Thanks to the small engine capacity, the Cactus makes a lot of sense as an everyday run-around with a claimed fuel consumption of only 4.7 litres/100km. During testing, the Cactus averaged just over 5.0 litres /100km on different commutes making it truly impressive in light of the petrol woes.

Verdict

The Citroën C4 Cactus is one of those vehicles that only come around once in a blue moon. Occasional thumbs-up and gawks from other motorists follow the flamboyant Citroën everywhere it goes.

The Cactus Shine’s drive proved to be more than adequately powered as the little 1.2-litre motor was able to fling the car forward with only minimal turbo lag. Personally, the Cactus has a lot going for it in most departments as Citroën really set the bar high for future developments.

Article written by Deon van der Walt
01.06.2015
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