Review: Citroen C4 Cactus (2014)
Unique interior design has a boutique feel. Comfortable and refined on the move. Spacious inside with a good quality finish. Available with impressive 1.2 PureTech engine.
Unusual styling sure to divide opinion. ETG6 gearbox can be jerky. Rear windows only pop-out and don't wind down.
Citroen C4 Cactus (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £17,660, brokers can source from £13,477
- Contract hire deals from £207.28 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 7–19
- On average it achieves 73% of the official MPG figure
The C4 Cactus shows Citroen back to its best. Quirky, funky yet still practical, it's exactly the sort of car the French brand should be building. And it's certain to appeal to family buyers because this isn't a car that's merely form over function. Yes it has an unusual design and certainly stands out from the crowd, especially in some of the more brighter paint hues, but it's also spacious, economical and family-friendly.
The bold exterior styling is a fresh alternative to the standard hatchback and the ever growing number of crossovers on the market.
It includes Citroen's innovative Airbump protective strips. These are tough air-filled polyurethane panels designed to protect against car park scrapes and dints. There are four colours available and you can also change them, allowing you to freshen your car's appearance over time.
The interior is as style-led as the exterior with an elegant and minimalist design that's inspired by luggage and travel. It has a bespoke and boutique feel that's unlike any other car on the market with nice features such as the leather straps for door handles. There's also plenty of space thanks to a thin dash design and the option of a front bench-style seat.
Citroen has included some useable technology too, with a simple digital instrument display which not only looks great but is easy to read. The rest of the cabin is very simply laid out, with an iPad-style touchscreen on top of the centre stack. Even the upholstery is outside of the ordinary, with fluffier fabrics used in some places instead of the usual materials.
The engine range includes Citroen's strong HDi diesels but we're most impressed with the new 1.2-litre PureTech petrol. This may seem small but thanks to the light weight of the C4 Cactus the turbocharged three-cylinder engine provides nippy performance with good refinement. It's economical too with a claimed 61.4mpg with the standard five-speed manual gearbox.
On the road the C4 Cactus drives well with a forgiving ride and decent refinement, while there's little wind or road noise even at motorway speeds. With prices starting at around £13,000 the C4 Cactus represents a lot of car for the money. It's the ideal family car and we have no doubt it will find plenty of fans.
What does a Citroen C4 Cactus (2014) cost?
Citroen C4 Cactus (2014): What's It Like Inside?
Often with design led cars, you get an exciting exterior only to be disappointed with a run of the mill cabin. Thankfully that's not the case with the C4 Cactus. Citroen has managed to create a truly bespoke and boutique interior that's unlike any other Citroen. In fact it's unlike anything else on the market and helps the C4 Cactus stand above many of its rivals.
The minimalist design blends modern elements with some neat design details like the door handles and dashtop glovebox that are inspired by luggage straps. Instead of the usual plastic, the doors can be specified with softer and fluffier materials as part of three interior 'ambiances', Stone Grey, Purple Highlight and Habana Highlight.
Combined with a feeling of spaciousness and comfortable seats, the interior of the C4 Cactus has a real lounge feel to it. It's a lovely place to spend time. If you go for an ETG6 model you also get a front bench-style front seat, further adding to the comfortable feel.
That feeling of space is helped by the simplified dashboard which is thinner thanks to the fact the passenger airbag is cleverly roof mounted - a first on any car. There's more to the C4 Cactus than just style though. It's also very modern with a completely digital instrument display that's clear and uncluttered, although there's no rev counter which is a little odd.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the dash is a large seven-inch high resolution touchscreen that controls all the main functions. It means the C4 Cactus is indeed minimalist with just six buttons. The touchscreen system controls all heating and ventilation, media, navigation, vehicle settings and Bluetooth. There are useful shortcut touch sensitive buttons on the side so you can navigate easily.
It's a good system and easy to work, helped by those shortcut buttons. Sometimes it can be a little annoying, for instance if you jump in and are trying to set the navigation but then decide to change the air conditioning temperature, you have to go to a different menu. But that aside, it's one of the best in-car systems we've come across. It also looks good, much like a sleek tablet atop the dash. It's another feature that gives the C4 Cactus an upmarket feel.
There are a few quirks. The central storage tray and cupholder in front of the gear lever are both shallow and not very useful while there's only one air vent for the front passenger, which although bigger isn't as effective as having a traditional vent by the door.
The rear bench seat is a single piece rather than a 50/50 split and so it can be a little cumbersome to fold down. The back windows are also pop-out affairs rather than proper wind-down ones.
On the plus side, there's generous rear passenger space, with plenty of legroom while the boot is large with a wide opening and 358 litres of carrying space. A panoramic glass roof is available as an option on all models and comes with advanced heat insulation although it's still surprising that there's no blind to slide across. However, overall, the interior of the C4 Cactus has a high quality feel to it with an impressive level of fit and finish.
Child seats that fit a Citroen C4 Cactus (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Citroen C4 Cactus (2014) like to drive?
Citroen's recent form, when it comes to ride and handling, has been somewhat hit and miss. The DS3 is excellent but the C4 soft and disappointing, while the DS5 has a ride that's deemed by the majority as far too firm.
Thankfully, the C4 Cactus gets the balance spot on. The ride is smooth thanks to a perfectly judged suspension set-up, which means it's comfortable around town and deals very well with uneven roads and rough surfaces.
Given this is designed as a family car that's a key strength. Fortunately though it doesn't come at the expense of handling. The C4 Cactus has plenty of grip and most crucially, doesn't roll too much in corners, helped by the short overhangs. Of course it's no sports car, yet still copes well through bends meaning your back seat passengers won't feel sick on twisting country roads.
The steering is somewhat light but it's no surprise to discover that the C4 Cactus is based on the same chassis as the DS3, a car we rate very highly.
On the motorway it's equally as impressive with minimal road or wind noise. In fact it makes a very good long distance car thanks to its relaxed nature and comfortable seats. Visibility is very good too and thanks to the semi-raised ride height, you get a slightly elevated view, which is useful in town or when parking. The square shape of the C4 Cactus means it's easy to judge the extremities.
Thanks to the relatively light weight of the C4 Cactus, it weighs 200kg less than an equivalent C4 hatchback, Citroen has been able to use smaller engines which consequently means better fuel economy. The petrol engine is a 1.2-litre PureTech unit, an engine we've been very impressed with in the latest Peugeot 308.
There are several versions of this three-cylinder PureTech engine with the entry-level developing 75PS, a mid-level 82PS version that's also available with the semi-automatic ETG6 gearbox and the top 110PS model that comes with a 5-speed manual. While it may seem small, don't let its size put you off the PureTech unit - it's a real gem. Thanks to the fact it's turbocharged, it has plenty of low down pulling power and the most powerful 110PS version delivers 205Nm of torque from low revs.
It's also very smooth for a three-cylinder unit, yet still has some of the character in the way it accelerates, which gives it a nicely sporty feel. It's further helped by a decent five-speed manual gearbox with an easy shift, although it does feel a little wooly and has a long throw.
The engine does get a touch noisy at high revs - it's not as quiet as in the Peugeot 308 - but at motorway speeds you can barely hear it. The 1.2-litre unit it also very economical with the all manual versions returning 61.4mpg according to the claimed figures. Low CO2 of under 110g/km means cheap tax.
Alongside the petrol engine is the 1.6-litre diesel. There are two versions, a lesser powered 82PS model that only comes with the ETG6 gearbox and the top 100PS. Go for the latter and you'll get the most efficient model in the range with an incredible claimed 91.1mpg and CO2 of just 82g/km thanks to ultra low rolling resistance tyres.
The HDi diesel is a strong and refined engine that's well suited to the C4 Cactus if you're going to be covering long distances. The semi-automatic ETG6 gearbox is best avoided though. It's a development of Citroen's much maligned EGC system and although it has new software and is marginally better, it's still jerky and slow. Unless you must have an automatic we'd suggest sticking with the fine manual.
|1.2 Puretech 110||61–69 mpg||9.2–9.4 s||100–107 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 110 EAT6||55–61 mpg||9.7–9.9 s||105–119 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 130||57 mpg||8.2 s||110 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 75||61 mpg||12.9 s||105 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 82||60–61 mpg||12.9–13.1 s||105–107 g/km|
|1.2 Puretech 82 ETG||66 mpg||15.0 s||98–100 g/km|
|1.5 BlueHDi||71 mpg||10.0 s||97 g/km|
|1.5 BlueHDi 120 EAT6||71 mpg||8.7 s||102 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi||76–91 mpg||10.6–10.7 s||87–96 g/km|
|1.6 BlueHDi ETG||83 mpg||11.2 s||89 g/km|
|1.6 e-HDi ETG||79–81 mpg||11.4 s||92–94 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Citroen C4 Cactus (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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