Citroen C4 Cactus SUV
Price £12,990 - £20,135
- Eye-catching looks
- Very cheap to run
- Spacious interior
- No four-wheel-drive option
- Cheap-feeling interior plastics
- Rear windows don't wind down
At a glance
“The Citroen C4 Cactus is a remarkably efficient car that majors in driver and passenger comfort. Its distinctive design appeals and it’s more spacious than rivals such as the Nissan Juke.”
The Citroen C4 Cactus is a hard car to pin down: some may consider it a crossover, while others will argue it's a conventional hatchback. In fact, The C4 Cactus is best looked at in comparison to other similarly individual cars like the Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti. Like these, the Citroen C4 Cactus dares to offer something different to most cars, while also aiming to be a practical proposition to buyers.
Harking back to the revolutionary Citroen 2CV of the forties, the C4 Cactus boasts a quirky yet elegant dashboard and interior, which some have compared to the MINI and Fiat 500. These comparisons will be welcome to Citroen, as it's given its designers free rein to create unusual cars in recent years in an effort to set itself apart from the competition.
The external design of the C4 Cactus is also unconventional. Citroen has fitted the doors of the Cactus with rubber panels it calls ‘Airbumps’. These large, textured and replaceable panels aim to prevent knocks and dings to the paintwork and can be specified in four colours. Despite the addition of these Airbumps and a raised stance, Citroen has wisely opted not to fit the Cactus with four-wheel drive, thus saving the weight and cost.
Other design idiosyncrasies unique to the Cactus include a roof that Citroen looks like it's ‘floating’ above the car thanks to gloss-black body pillars and a set of daytime running lights that sit above the main headlights like ‘eyebrows’.
One difference that buyers are unlikely to appreciate is the hinged, rather than electric, rear windows. These have been fitted as part of a weight-saving programme. While being unable to lower the rear windows might seem old-fashioned, there's no denying that this weight-loss programme has been successful: the Cactus is 200kg lighter than the Citroen C4 hatchback.
Cactus buyers can choose from one diesel and three petrol engines and they all provide excellent economy. The diesel returns a staggering 83.1mpg while emitting just 90g/km of CO2, making it exempt from road tax. Our choice would be the PureTech 110 petrol. It offers a good bend of performance and economy, reaching 62mph from rest in 9.3 seconds while returning 65.7mpg economy and costing £20 a year to tax. No C4 Cactus costs more than £20 a year to tax and all offer great fuel efficiency.
The C4 Cactus was clearly designed with a focus on comfort rather than sportiness. As a result, it has soft suspension and high sides, so leans quite prominently in corners compared to rivals. This does mean, however, that the C4 Cactus offers a more comfortable ride than many cars on the market today. It also has light steering, making it easy to drive in town.
In designing the Cactus to have a relatively upright stance, Citroen has ensured the cabin is spacious. This practical approach is echoed by a good-sized boot and plenty of useful storage compartments around the cabin.
The C4 Cactus is available in four trim levels and we’d recommend the mid-range Feel. Like the entry-level Touch, it has a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio and front electric windows, but it also comes with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection and a front armrest. Our one complaint about the practicality of the C4 Cactus is that regardless of how you specify your car, the rear seats fold as one bench – there's no split-folding function offered.
Citroen's record for reliability isn’t the greatest, but the Cactus is based on the Citroen C3 hatchback, which does have a good record in this area. The Cactus is also a safe car, scoring a respectable four stars in its Euro NCAP safety test and coming with multiple airbags and electronic stability control as standard.
The Citroen C4 Cactus can return over 80mpg, making it one of the most affordable non-hybrid cars around
The Citroen C4 Cactus is designed to be comfortable – something it does with aplomb
Even some cheap-feeling plastics can’t dent our love for the stylish interior design of the Citroen Cactus
The Citroen Cactus gets close to the Volkswagen Golf for space, but it’s much cheaper to buy
A tough 2014 test meant the Citroen Cactus received four out of five stars from Euro NCAP, but it’s fundamentally a safe car