I received some strange looks from my peers when I said Iíd be swapping an Audi Q5 for some quality time in a CitroÎn C4 Cactus. Granted, Iíve lost 86 horse power in the process, but Iíve also potentially gained around 20mpg. Downsizing used to be all the rage, and while my wallet will hopefully thank me for choosing a more frugal car, I do have to deal with a smaller cabin and boot.
Still, as a fan of CitroÎn cars from decades past, I also want to see if the French firmís new trick ëprogressive hydraulic cushioní suspension can rekindle memories of my old BXs and Xantia, and whether the car is still quirky enough to earn the right to retain the ëCactusí nameplate from its more daring predecessor.
Itís a good job Iím not in any hurry though, as the carís BlueHDi 100 engine is best described as having a ërelaxedí approach to motoring. My introduction to C4 Cactus ownership involved a long motorway journey and it was clear that observing the speed limit delivered the best combination of miles per gallon and minimal cabin noise. Away from the madness that is the UKís motorway network, the C4 Cactusí relaxed gait also takes the edge off the cut and thrust of the rush hour grind. The light steering, slick manual gearchange and the engineís ability to chug along on next to no revs, all do much to keep blood pressure levels in check. And then thereís the carís fancy soft, yet supportive front seats. Boasting differing density foam, theyíve been designed to complement the carís trick suspension. Iím quite a chunky chap and, so far, itís two thumbs up from me.
Making the C4 Cactus more mainstream has resulted in a dilution of its core character, though. The eagle-eyed will notice that the Airbumps feature that adorned the old carís doors has been relegated to sill level and is more of a design feature than one that would protect against knocks. CitroÎnís decision to dial back the concept car-inspired interior is a good one in my view, although the paired back nature of the driverís digital display means thereís no room to permanently display trip computer data and thereís no rev counter. Boo!
Minimalist digital display aside, thereís a refreshingly analogue vibe emanating from the C4 Cactus. Coming from a car costing over twice that of the plucky CitroÎn, the lack of keyless entry and ignition, plus the inclusion of a manual handbrake and low-fi, low intensity headlights have already conditioned me to take things a little slower. The acid test will, naturally, be when the car encounters its fair share of poorly surfaced roads. Thankfully, in the interests of research, thereís no shortage of pothole-infested roads near me and Iím keen to see if CitroÎnís trick suspension technology lives up to the hype and the fancy seats really do, er, cushion the ride.
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Date arrived 21st October 2018
Fuel economy 70.6mpg (combined) 58.7mpg (on test)
Even at this early stage of its life, the Citroën’s frugal character bodes well for the future.
I can’t have a rev counter? Apparently not, which is a trifle annoying if you want to drive frugally.