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Driven: Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.

Driven: Citroen C4 Cactus
Updated C4 Cactus gets a tamer look to take on hatchback rivals.


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Citroen C4 Cactus

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While the Citroen C4 Cactus traded on its quirkiness when it was first launched, this mid-life facelift has seen some of the wackier design elements toned down so that Citroen can take on mainstream hatchbacks as a great value alternative. We understand why Citroen has done it - it plugs a gap in the range left by the recently discontinued C4 hatch - but has the Cactus lost some of its charm as a result?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech 110 EAT6 Flair
Price: 21,165 (as tested); range starts at 17,265
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Combined economy: 61.4mpg
Top speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 110hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 1,500rpm

What's this?

The quirky Citroen C4 Cactus gets a thorough reworking for its mid-life update. No longer is it being pitched as a funky looking crossover, instead, Citroen has matured its styling and is sending it into battle against hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Part of the styling changes includes the deletion of those Airbumps on the side of the car that made the first-generation Cactus so distinctive. There is still some cladding on the lower doors and sills like the smaller C3. Whether you'll miss them or not, most will agree that the Cactus looks just as good without them. The car sits 10 millimetres lower, due to its new suspension setup, which we'll touch on later. Reprofiled bumpers and the removal of the roof rails help to complete the car's transformation into a hatchback.

More subtle styling tweaks such as coloured inserts around the fog lamps, new rear lights and integrating the brand's double chevron logo into the grille's design all contribute to improving the car's image and giving it a more mature look.

Of the tweaks to the car's interior, it's the addition of new seats that get the most notice. Citroen refers to them as 'Advanced Comfort' seats, and while they look like something from Ikea's armchair department, there's more than a hint of throw-back to plush Citroen interiors from the 1970s. The comfort isn't merely superficial either, the thickness of the padding used has gone up from 2- to 15mm and you notice it as soon as you sit into them. Not only are the front seats much broader than usual, but they also still allow for plenty of adjustment and feature lumbar support.

Throughout the rest of the cabin there are some practical features including generously-sized storage bins in the rear doors. Rear passenger headroom is just about on par for the segment, although the panoramic glass room takes away a few precious millimetres. Boot capacity isn't huge at 358 litres, but the opening is a useful size.

How does it drive?

The engine line-up in the new C4 Cactus doesn't differ a great deal from its predecessor. Just a single 100hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder covers the diesel side of things, and on the petrol front there is the choice of two turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder power units with 110- and 130hp. For a limited time following the car's launch, a less powerful naturally aspirated version of this engine, with 82hp, will be on sale.

A five-speed manual is offered with the two lesser powered petrol engines, while a six-speed manual is available with the PureTech 130. On the automatic transmission front, the PureTech 110 gets PSA's EAT6, as driven here. This unit is a conventional six-speed auto with a torque converter and is well-suited to the 1.2-litre petrol engine. When left in full auto mode and providing you drive with consideration, the changes come smoothly, and the engine is kept in its optimal power band. A beneficial factor to the car's performance and fuel consumption is that it has a kerbweight of just 1,070kg. Despite this relatively light weight for its segment, the C4 Cactus still feels solid.

Refinement is helped by the somewhat muted engine note, although road and wind noise does pick up as you approach motorway speeds. But what sets the new Cactus apart from its predecessor is the new Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension. Think of it as Citroen's modern-day interpretation of its famed hydropneumatic suspension. As the name suggests, it uses hydraulic cushioning instead of the traditional rubber bump stops in the suspension. That translates into a smoother shock absorption that feels better damped, At lower speeds the car absorbs larger bumps with noticeably less impact, with the ride feeling significantly smoother.

The effect at higher speeds isn't as noticeable, but there is still plenty of comfort from the car. It handles small to medium-sized bumps the best, but you can still feel a lot of tiny vibrations from the road coming through the steering wheel. Through bends, there is some body roll, but you won't be scraping the door handles off the road like in an old 2CV.

Lower speed urban environs are where the C4 Cactus feels most adept. It's where the suspension can shine, and the drivetrain works best in delivering what is ultimately a relaxing driving experience.


Having started off life as a crossover, Citroen has done a good job in transforming the new C4 Cactus into a worthy contender in the hatchback market. Its new suspension and comfortable new seats are innovative and give it an edge over several rivals. It falls short on some of its interior qualities, with cheap plastics featuring in prominent places, meaning it is unlikely to challenge some of the more polished cars in the segment. Nevertheless, the C4 Cactus delivers comfort in spades and retains an appealing and somewhat cool image that should see it build on the model's success to date.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Dave Humphreys - 14 Mar 2018    - Citroen road tests
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- C4 Cactus images

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.

2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.2018 Citroen C4 Cactus. Image by Citroen.


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