13 Oct 2014

2014 Citroën C4 Cactus First Drive Review

I'm running a Citroën C4 Cactus Feel PureTech 82 manual for a week. Here's my first drive review

2014 Citroën C4 Cactus
2014 Citroën C4 Cactus

Never before has a car elicited such a large, and mixed, response to my tweets about it.  The Cactus was delivered, I took a few photos, tweeted them, drove it around, tweeted some more.  Some people hated it, others loved it.

There was no middle ground.  The Citroën C4 Cactus is, it seems, a true Marmite car. 

But that doesn't matter. It is an important car for two reasons. One, it matters to Citroën, it is a return to quirky, innovative, ground breaking form. Two, it matters to the car industry because it's the size of a Golf yet is only 50kg heavier than an Up! It is astonishingly light.

Look outside, look inside and you wouldn't know where all the weight has been saved. Look closer though and you will notice that the rear windows are pop-out rather than wind down, the dials have been replaced with a digital readout and the door handles are leather straps.

But drive it and you instantly know you're in a light car.  You can feel it in the steering, the braking, the acceleration and the way it goes round corners.

Why is this important? Because something with less mass requires less power to propel it which aids economy and reduces emissions. It also means it doesn't need large brakes or suspension and the tyres will last longer.

Cars have been getting heavier as regulations and consumer demand meant we needed safer, more sophisticated vehicles. The latest generation of most popular models has seen them shave some weight here and there (except the Mini which gets more porky with every generation) but the Cactus has taken weight saving to new extremes.

Yet it's not apparent in the crucial areas of comfort and refinement. It has cruise control, DAB, Bluetooth, auto lights and auto wipers. It has all the toys.

A quick run through of the Cactus after a couple of days and 100 miles:

The cabin is well designed with lots of sensible storage spaces, two specifically for smartphones but only one cupholder.  The materials are largely of high quality but some of the plastics, especially on the door tops, are harsh. The glovebox is vast (because the airbag is in the roof)

The driving position is compromised by the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel, no doubt to save weight but a step too far. 

The seats are like sofas, comfortable but not very supportive.

There are hardly any buttons, most things are controlled but the excellent infotainment touchscreen.

This is the first French car I've driven with full postcode input in the satnav.

The engine is puny but in this car is acceptable, the gearbox is fine but only has 5-speeds.

The dash and readouts are clear and give lots of good info but it doesn't have a rev-counter, which is silly.

The handling is adequate but the ride is excellent.

The looks are...well I think it's great looking and 50% of you will agree.

I'll publish a full review soon.


2014 Citroën C4 Cactus
2014 Citroën C4 Cactus
2014 Citroën C4 Cactus

2014 Citroën C4 Cactus

2014 Citroën C4 Cactus

2014 Citroën C4 Cactus
Price - £14,590 (£16,500 as tested)
Engine - 1.2 litre, 3-cylinder, petrol, turbocharged
Transmission - 5-speed manual
0-62mph - 12.9 seconds
Top Speed - 106mph
Power - 82bhp
Torque - 87lb ft
Economy - 61.4mpg
CO2 - 107g/km
Kerb Weight - 965kg

By Matt Hubbard