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Nothing spiky about future Citroen SUV. Image by Citroen.

Nothing spiky about future Citroen SUV
This Frankfurt concept will morph into the Citroen C4 Cactus crossover in time.
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The Citroen C4 Cactus is new, and it means an entirely new direction for the C-badged cars in the Citroen range. This is the point where the work done to develop and establish the luxury DS brand (370,000 sales and counting and it's popular in China too) starts to make sense with the rest of the Citroen range. Although Citroen has previously confirmed to us that the C-range won't chase the likes of Dacia downmarket, the cars will become simpler in operation, more practical and more obviously family friendly. This C4 Cactus concept car is the first fruit of this idea, and it previews a roughly Nissan Qashqai-sized rival that will go on sale in 2014 based on the PSA Peugeot Citroen group's new EMP platform.


While the styling cues are obviously drawn from the existing Citroen range (those slim LED headlights are lifted from the new C4 Picasso, the rounded bumpers look very C3 Picasso and the 3D-effect 'light tunnel' taillights are almost straight from the DS3 Cabrio) the look is much cleaner and more pared-down than has been the Citroen norm of late. It's rather refreshingly simple, we'd say and bodes well for Citroen's future style.

Citroen calls the design "pure and functional" and an interesting innovation is the design of the bubble-wrap like bumps in contrast grey on the sides and corners of the car. Called Air Bumps, they actually really are like bubble wrap for your car and can deflect by as much as 2cm without marking or denting, saving your paint and panel work in tight car parks or when other careless drivers nudge up against you. The days of door dings may well be over. Citroen will put the Air Bumps into production on the showroom C4 Cactus, and has patented the technology. They'll be available in a contrast colour or in a more disguising shade to blend in with the body.


The cabin is, in style, as pared back as the exterior, with all the dials and most of the buttons replaced by two TFT screens, a seven-inch one in front of the driver for the instrument cluster and a larger eight-inch screen in the centre that controls the infotainment and many of the climate controls. So many functions are taken over by these screens that there are actually only five physical switches on the dashboard, a level of simplicity that Citroen wants to carry forward into the production model. While the idea has been to make the cabin simpler and user-friendly, it's not actually skimping on equipment, another indication that Citroen doesn't want to go down the Dacia route. Air conditioning and satnav will be standard or optional, depending on the model and the gearbox is a 'robotised manual' EGS unit, controlled by push-buttons on the dash and steering wheel paddles.

Another interesting feature that may well make it through to the production model is the bench front seat. Actually, it's not really a bench seat at all - it still only seats two people - but Citroen believes that such a design creates for a friendlier environment, where the passenger and driver feel equal in the cabin and not separated.

Those clamshell doors won't be on the showroom C4 Cactus though - expect to see conventional doors on the production version.


The show car uses Citroen's HybridAir concept, which combines a HDi diesel engine with a powerful air pump. This compresses air under high pressure in a tank, which can then be released to add extra power when needed, such as overtaking. Citroen claims that the car can manage 94mpg with this innovative drivetrain, which will go on sale eventually, but the C4 Cactus will make its debut with conventional petrol and HDi diesel engines.

Anything else?

The Citroen C4 Cactus is surprisingly compact. It's actually between a Nissan Qashqai and Juke in length, and in spite of the rough-road-friendly 21cm ride height, the car is actually the same height overall as a Citroen DS3.

Neil Briscoe - 5 Sep 2013

2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.

2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.2013 Citroen Cactus. Image by Citroen.    - Citroen road tests
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