Citroen C4 Cactus (2014) first official pictures

Published: 05 February 2014

Well done to Citroen: its arch-funky Cactus crossover concept has makes it into production unscathed, ‘Airbumps’ and all. The production version’s called the Citroen C4 Cactus as it’s based on the C4 hatch, but it’s had the funk turned up to 11.

If you’re arriving this late to the compact crossover party, you need to make a splash – good job the new C4 Cactus is head-turning enough to cause the Nissan Juke and Ford EcoSport nightmares.

Let’s get right to the Citroen C4 Cactus’ acne…

We were sceptical of C-Cactus concept’s ‘Airbumps’: would the production car bin them? No, as it turns out! Fitted along the flanks, tailgate and wheelarches, the Airbumps are essentially polyurethane sections dotted with air-filled capsules.

Not only is the C4 Cactus kinder to jaywalking pedestrians, but your new £13k pride and joy won’t be hurt by parking dings or runaway supermarket trollies. Want to highlight your car’s bubble-wrap? The Airbumps can be specced in four contrast colours (black, grey, ‘dune’ and ‘chocolate’). Alternatively, have them matched to the ten exterior paint choices. No word yet on how easy the Airbumps are to puncture – or why Citroen named its cuddly car after something spikey and sharp.

Is the Citroen C4 Cactus just a one-trick pony?

The C4 Cactus has more to shout about than just the squishy panels. Doubtless the rounded-off moon buggy styling – with split light clusters and a ‘floating’ roof panel – will prove polarising, but it’s certainly a breath of fresh air in the increasingly overpopulated family crossover segment.

At first, it sounds far from cutting-edge under the skin. The C4 Cactus is based on PSA’s ‘Platform 1’ from as far back as 2004, rather than the brand’s new ‘EMP2’ template. Citroen claims that despite the creaky underpinnings, the C4 Cactus is impressively light: basic models weigh in a massive 200kg less than a C4 hatch, at 965kg.

Wow, that is light!

Yup, and it comes about via some pretty canny dieting. The sound-insulating panoramic sunroof, for example, uses the same sunlight and UV-ray protection technology as high-end sunglasses. Citroen says this means the C4 Cactus doesn’t have to include a sunblind, saving 6kg and lowering the car’s centre of gravity a smidge.

There’s also high-strength steel and aluminium crash structures, such as the bonnet, cutting kilos too. Shunning roll-down rear windows for cheaper pop-out panes saves a further 11kg, while a single-piece folding rear bench seat saves 6kg. The front seats use a bench arrangement too, albeit with individual squab adjustment for legislative and comfort reasons.

Thanks to the minimalist dashboard, complete with Peugeot 308-pinched 7in touchscreen and ‘luggage strap’ door handles (Pagani, anyone?), the C4 Cactus’s cabin seems pleasing pared-back, without appearing stingy. It’s certainly the best-looking cabin of any Citroen right now – DS5 included. Here’s hoping it’s built with the same attention to detail as it’s been designed with. Those twin screens look very BMW i3 to us…

Should be cheap to run then?

That’s the idea – and not just because of the C4’s engine family having less mass to lug around. Insurance and repair costs should be lower than the C4 Cactus’s rivals, thanks to the Airbumps, and Citroen’s push to reduce the total number of components used within the car.

While it’s coy on engines, the C4’s 1.4-litre petrol engine should make it into the Cactus, as Citroen claim a 92g/km CO2 rating for the most efficient Cactus, with a diesel model, most likely the 1.6-litre from the C4, offering as a claimed 91.1mpg.

Anything else?

Hate topping up your car’s washer fluid? Citroen reckons you’ll use half as much in the C4 Cactus. Washer nozzles located in the wiper blade tips give a more accurate spray, reducing wastage. They also slash the time you’ll spend with your vision obscured.

It’s a small point (and one that Mercedes has had on the SL since 2012) but another example nevertheless of Citroen paying attention to the little things that make car ownership that bit more painless.

When can I buy one?

In October 2014, with prices starting at £13k and rising to around £20k for then higher-specced models you see pictured here.

This isn’t just a new car for Citroen – it’s a new direction of the ‘C-line’ range. On first impressions, we like where it’s heading – the question is: will buyers?

>> Has Citroen been overambitious with the C4 Cactus, or is this 2014’s hottest new family car? Tell us your thoughts by clicking ‘Add your comment’ below

By Ollie Kew

Former road tester and staff writer of this parish