Cars - Citroen

Road tests and reviews of the latest Citroen models available in South Africa

Test driving a Citroen C4 Cactus

2016 Citroen Cactus Driven

By Franky Johnson

Citroen first launched its all-new Cactus C4 back in 2015 and immediately it became one of the quirkiest looking cars on the market as well as a versatile and trend-setting alternative to the conventional C-segment hatchback.

In 2016, the front sports a high-mounted LED daytime running light strips and deep-set main light clusters, emphasising the slim headlights, front fog lights, and the flanks which feature one of the Cactus’ key innovations: The Airbump – a pliable protective panel that protects while adding compelling visual interest. The stylish roof bars, the discreet tailgate spoiler, the 3D-effect rear lights and the 6-hole alloy wheels, which on the press vehicle were shod with 205/55R16 Goodyear radials, complete the look. The Cactus C4 has a full-size spare wheel.

Inside, the cabin of the Cactus C4 is quite spacious, and the cloth upholstery is attractive and looks to be hard wearing. The front bucket seats are fully adjustable and nicely shaped making it easy to find a satisfactory driving position, and there’s a fold down armrest between the two. Space for the rear passengers reasonably generous and the wide rear bench seat will accommodate three adults although two would be more comfortable for long trips. For your golf clubs or holiday luggage the boot capacity is a reasonable 358 litres.

The C4 Cactus hosts a fully digital interface with a large, 17.8 cm full-colour touch-screen, augmented by a digital instrument display ahead of the driver. However, some functions can only be accessed via the touch screen, which means taking your eyes off the road, unless you pull over to select the info you’re looking for.

While the majority of the controls are conventionally placed and easy to access, some are confined to the touch-screen display. This makes them hard to access on the move which means taking your eyes off the road. This can be distracting as a result. The steering wheel-mounted controls for the stereo and cruise control and speed limiter functions do work well, however.

Specification levels are generous and the top of the range Shine model comes standard with climate control air-conditioning, integrated GPS, enhanced audio system with tuner and MP3 playback, reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony and audio streaming, cruise control with speed limiter, electric front windows and exterior mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel, rear privacy glass and remote central locking

The comprehensive list of safety equipment includes six airbags – a roof-mounted airbag for the front passenger creating more space. Active equipment includes disc brakes all round with ABS brakes, EBD and emergency braking assistance, electronic stability control, rear parking sensors and Hill Assist. Also standard is tyre pressure monitoring, Isofix child seat tethers, electronic child locks and front seat belt pre-tensioners.

Under the bonnet Citroen has installed their 1.2-litre PureTech Turbo e-THP petrol engine with turbo-charging, which boosts output to 81 kW at 5 500 rpm and 205 Nm from 1 500 rpm and transfers power to the road through a five-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels. Petrol consumption is given as an impressive 4.7 litres/100 km for the combined cycle, but according to the trip recorder, during testing the best I got was 6.4 lt per 100 kms. The tank holds a useful 50 litres.

In acceleration tests the Cactus C 4 achieved a time of 10.5 seconds for the 0 to 100 km/h dash after two gear-changes, and it has a top speed of around 185 km/h. The brakes though, were impressive stopping the Citroen from 100 km/h in just 3.1 seconds

From behind the wheel, visibility is good and most controls fall easily to hand. Around town the ride is smooth thanks to the soft suspension, and it copes very well with uneven roads and poor road surfaces. The steering is on the light side which is good for parking, but like most electric systems, provides very little feedback. On the plus side it is accurate, the car goes where you point it, and provides enough reassurance when you turn in to bends.

Driving on the freeways the Cactus C4 cruises comfortably at the legal limit and cab noise is well controlled. For quick overtaking, dropping down a gear or two and with the loud pedal pressed to the floor, will get you safely by. However, there is a fair amount of body roll at freeway speeds through tight twists and turns, but the car never felt like it would break away, and the ride is comfortable most of the time. However, if you do overstep the mark, the sophisticated electronic driver aids will step in and keep you on track.

Pricing

The recommended retail selling price for the new Citroën C4 Cactus 1.2l PureTech Turbo e-THP 81 kW SHINE is R314 900, which includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a five-year/100 000 km service plan, as well as roadside assistance. Services intervals are every 15 000 kms.

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