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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.