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Driven: Citroen's C4 Cactus no prickly pear

2015-08-31 11:08

A CAR FOR ALL SEASONS: Citroen's quirky and outrageous C4 Cactus is fun to drive, frugal and a practical family vehicle, writes Janine Van Der Post Image: Motorpics

JANINE VAN DER POST

Cape Town - Since its local launch in May 2015, I have been eagerly hoping to drive Citroen’s C4 Cactus. I wouldn’t say I was excited but the Cactus is such a oddity I had to get behind the wheel.

I took delivery of a dark red e-THP 81kW C4 Catcus 'Shine'; I knew about its rubberised/plastic side-panels, called 'airbumps' by Citroen, and its quirky design but seeing it up close is quite an experience.

OH THOSE BUMPS...

It has the performance of a hatchback, the space of a compact MPV and the practicality of a SUV. I think it's quite underrated in the local market and should be considered a contender in many local segments.
 
GALLERY: Citroen's C4 Cactus

According to Citroen, its airbumps are capable of absorbing low-speed impacts such as shopping trolleys. Although Citroen is a French automaker, the Cacus has Eastern elements. Its narrow LEDs remind me of a Japanese samurai’s helmet and its bumps along its flanks and wheel arches are reminiscent of a warrior’s armour.

AN ALIEN ON THE ROAD

I like the design but for some it will be rather strange. Numerous road users would ask me what it was. While filling-up at a petrol station, a nearby taxi driver shouted at me: "Jou kar lyk soos 'n alien! (your car looks like an alien)”. I don't blame him but he clearly hasn't seen a Fiat Mutipla on our roads.

A passerby walked up to the car and started running his hands along the airbumps and started banging on it as if to glean the purpose of the C4's cladding. He hadn't seen me behind the wheel and was quite embarrassed when he finally noticed me.

The C4 Cactus will definitely turn heads...

NIFTY INTERIOR

The interior is an acquired taste; the cubbyhole looks like a rectangular leather travelling suitcase and the door releases are akin to leather-clad luggage handles.

Its sofa-styled seats are comfortable and there's ample legroom. It has loads of storage compartments throughout and its digital console is great leaving no room for a cluttered facia.

Boot space is sufficient though l was forced to choose between packing my baby’s luggage or leaving the pram behind at home. If you're loading a pram you'll have some space for small items. For extra space, the C4 is fitted with a roof rails.

DRIVING IT

Much like its bizarre design, its performance will surprise you. It's powered by a gutsy 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit capable of 81kW/208Nm. The 1.2 engine, mated to a five-speed manual, performs admirably on the road. As befits its moniker the crossover is frugal as I managed an average fuel consumption of 4.8 litres/100km. 

I wasn't expecting much from the 1.2-litre turbo but was I pleasantly surprised. I was expecting it to be under-powered but was hooked from the first pull-away.

OVERALL

Safety is important to Citroen so that's why the windows are unable to open fully, apparently it's to increase safety for children at the back since they love to have windows all the way down and let the wind blow their hair. Its rear windows open to a bare minimum via a little latch, but to me that could be a safety concern in the event of a crash or if needed to reach passengers in the rear after a collision.

Probably the most exciting thing about the Cactus was its power unit. The 1.2 turbo is blustery creature and urges you to feed the throttle. Its quirky design and great PureTech engine has earned the C4 Cactus many accolades.

If you're on the market for a practical crossover, the Cactus ranks high on my list of family vehicles. It’s priced competitively, frugal and overall, a fun car to drive. I only wish it had a bigger boot...

PRICES

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

Prices include a three-year or 100 000km warranty, a five-year or 100 000km service plan and roadside assistance. There’s an option to upgrade to the FreeDrive five-year or 100 000km warranty extension. Services intervals are 15 000km.


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