Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Family Car Review - Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus in Yellow


Earlier this summer we got an early sneak peek at the eye-catching new Citroen C4 Cactus which really is a head-turner. Available to pre-order in July and for purchase and delivery this October, the Citroen C4 is one of the most fun, striking and enjoyable family cars that I have reviewed for Parentwheels and, quite honestly, if I had the cash to buy a second family car right now (which I plan to sooner or later) then this is the car I would currently choose. Find out how we got on exploring the countryside and streets of Amsterdam in the new C4 Cactus.

Citroen C4 Cactus in Black with airbumps

Citroen C4 Cactus from above



The C4 Cactus is bold. It's chunky. It's fun. It's bright and it's different. Both outside and in there are lots of new things to see that are unlike anything you've seen before. The airbumps along each side of the car may be there for practical reasons (to protect the bodywork from bumps and grazes) but they add a lot to the car's style and character too. On the inside the contrasting colour of the dashboard and the amazing stand-out centre touch-screen console all immediately caught my eye. One of the most noticeable things was the space and access to storage in the front of the seat; Citroen have move the front airbags above the seats which provides a lot of space for a good old fashioned glove compartment... not that there is anything old fashioned about this one!

Citroen C4 Cactus Glove compartment
Glovebox

Citroen C4 Cactus Dashboard



Beyond the styling, which drew a lot of attention from the people we passed in the streets and villages around Amsterdam, the C4 Cactus is one of the most enjoyable mid-sized cars that I've ever driven. The PureTech petrol engine felt smooth, responsive and gave me all the power I needed for both motorway driving and city driving alike. On the windy countryside roads I really enjoyed the ride and within minutes I felt I'd got to know the gearbox (unusual for me on a brand new car). The new Citroen C4 Cactus is lighter than a Citroen C4 because it is a touch more compact and has some innovative light materials such as the single bench-seat in the back and of course, those airbumps. Lighter = more fuel efficient and, combined with the low resistance tyres and that PureTech engine the C4 Cactus can give you as much as 91.1mpg. On paper, the C4 Cactus looks like it should have nice low running costs as family car.

Citroen C4 Cactus Rear Seat


Citroen C4 Cactus Rear Bench Seat

The rear seat, although it is just one bench, is comfortable enough and has ISOFIX mounting points space for three people (although I think only two of those could be children's full-sized car seats at any one time because of the width). The boot is pretty massive for a car in this class and most travel systems and buggies would fit into it, with shopping as well!

Citroen C4 Cactus Boot

I Loved the panoramic glass roof on the C4 Cactus. On the traditional Citroen C4 the roof is fabulous to look out of, but feels a bit too much like you are out in the open and the side panels of the car restrict your view. However, the C4 Cactus feels a lot more natural and my vision wasn't restricted anywhere. It felt good to be out driving in the big wide world. The roof is made from heat-reducing glass that blocks the harmful UV rays so you won't burn while you're driving and there is no need for a retractable roof cover (more weight savings there!)

I also got a chance to try out the e-HDi 92 diesel-engined C4 Cactus with a 6 speed ETG semi-automatic gearbox. I definitely preferred the manual petrol engine and didn't feel the same level of "I've got to have this car" when driving the diesel but I'll admit that the automatic gearbox was pretty handy when driving in the city... one less thing to worry about.

Citroen C4 Cactus from the front

Citroen C4 Cactus touch screen



I was impressed by the level of trim and gadgetry as standard in the C4 Cactus. The centre 7-inch touch-screen console felt smart and well though-out. I found it incredibly easy to use for both music and navigation. Other nifty gadgetry includes the MagicWash wipers which have the wiper fluid dispensers integrated into the wipers themselves... clever! And of course, as an option you can choose ParkAssist which I've tried out in the past and which I think could be very handy when finding a parking space in a busy city centre. We tested out the reversing camera (yes, I did get lost down a dead-end) and the Stop-Start engine which is available with some engine combinations and which I find to be a great addition to a car when you're looking to save money on fuel.

Citroen C4 Cactus airbump


Really, under all the style and gadgetry the reason why I enjoyed driving the C4 cactus was the feel. The feel of both the car and its movement but also the engine and the gearbox. I always prefer a car that feels fun to drive and this one just felt totally natural.  It feels like the perfect size for a 4 person family for regular use.

Citroen C4 Cactus panoramic window


Citroen C4 Cactus profile


The Citroen C4 Cactus will be available from around £13,000 to just over £18,000. You can find out more about the new C4 Cactus over on the Citroen UK Facebook page and twitter page.

Monday, July 21, 2014

10 Family Car ideas for Summer

Choosing a new family car is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, it represents a large investment and will inevitably be something that will be part of the family for years to come. But with so many cars on the market today, how can you be sure which one is right for you family and will stand you in the best stead for the future?

Fortunately, you’re in luck as we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favourite family cars and listed them below. Now all you need to do is narrow them down a little further and get your cheque book out.

1. BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

With a mainstream price and BMW badge this five-seater MPV is sure way to please all the family. With a choice of turbocharged three and four-cylinder engines, the 2-Series Active Tourer represents quality and power, yet is perfect for families. For total peace of mind be sure to arrange regular BMW car maintenance to keep your family well clear of breakdown situations.



2. Seat Leon Hatchback

Sharing many parts with the VW Golf, the Seat Leon Hatchback represents a great investment for people who want VW quality with a reduced price tag. Good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions make the Leon a good choice for environmentally-conscious families.


3. Skoda Octavia Hatchback

Like the Leon, the Octavia is another vehicle that shares many parts with the VW Golf. However, its larger boot means that it competes with cars above its class in terms of space. With the potential to achieve 74 mpg, the Octavia is an economical family car.

4. Skoda Yeti SUV

The first and only SUV in our list, the Yeti lives up to its name but there’s nothing mysterious about this car. Its spacious well-built cabin is great for families who like to travel in comfort. It offers a four-wheel drive option which really allows dads to try out their off-road skills.

5. Hyundai i30 Hatchback

Hyundai have firmly focussed on providing comfort in the i30 and its quiet interior and smooth ride definitely reflect this. However it lacks slightly in terms of quality when placed side-by-side with a VW Golf but with a lower price tag and five-year warranty, the i30 is a definite contender.

6. Kia Cee’d Hatchback

The Kia Cee’d shares many parts with the i30 but comes with a highly impressive seven-year warranty and, for many people, is more aesthetically pleasing. Add to this the fact that it can achieve 76.3 mpg and you can see why the Kia made our list.



7. VW Golf hatchback

For over 35 years the VW Golf has represented quality, durability and value for money. Looking for super efficiency? Check out the BlueMotion model that boasts an amazing 88.3 mpg.


8. Ford Focus Hatchback

A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating makes the Focus an obvious choice for families. Being a Ford, future parts should be readily available and competitively priced. If you go for the 1.6-litre diesel model you’ll get a not too shabby 67 mpg.



9. Mazda 3 Hatchback

Good looks, fun handling and a strong reputation for reliability, the Mazda 3 is slightly longer than the Ford Focus which gives its rear-seat passengers more legroom. For people wanting to find the balance between power and efficiency, the 2.2-litre diesel is perfect.


10. Citroen C4 Picasso MPV


This people carrier come spacecraft appeals to families wanting style and comfort. Sliding rear seats make the C4 Picasso MPV very practical and perfect for loading up ready for the next family holiday. 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but that doesn't stop it being fun to read
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