Citroen is planning a new crossover model that’ll launch in early 2014. The Citroen C4 Cactus joins the Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage in battling the all-conquering Nissan Qashqai soft-roader. The Cactus Concept is the dressed up preview of the production model, which goes on sale in early 2014.
So it’s a C4 hatch on stilts?
In a nutshell, yes. The bluff-looking concept is based in the C4 hatch’s underpinnings, so production versions will use the same engines as the hatch. That means a choice of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder engines, or a 1.6-litre diesel, with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
The concept runs a version of PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s hybrid compressed air drivetrain, which boosts economy to a claimed 94mpg. Thanks to the lack of batteries that are associated with an electric hybrid, the Cactus suffers to cabin space impingement from its hybrid heart, and still gets away with a 45% reduction in fuel consumption during urban driving.
Why’s it called the Citroen Cactus?
Partly, it’s a nod to the 2007 C-Cactus concept, a pared-back SUV-cum-supermini design that gauged initial customer reaction to a rough-and-tumble Citroen. Also, cacti are ‘frugal’ plants – they don’t need much ‘fuel’, and are tough and difficult to kill. That’s Citroen’s inspiration for its new SUV, we’re told. We’re interested in what other plants they may choose for future concepts…
What are those pimples all over the Cactus’s body?
Essentially, the Cactus wears its own built-in bubblewrap suit. The grey lumps located front, side, and rear are called ‘Airbumps’ but Citroen: they’re an air-filled pocket of soft fibre designed to absorb low-speed impacts without scratching the bodywork, or hurting hapless pedestrians.
What’s it like inside?
Gone are the C4’s slabs of plastic and traditional centre stack, with a minimalist dashboard and dual flatscreens – one situated behind the flattened steering wheel, the other mounted centrally and configured to show a real-time powertrain cutaway detailing the status of the ‘PureDrive’ internal combustion engine and its compressed air sidekick.
Is it all just concept car nonsense?
Not as much as you might think. Sure, the lack of side and rear windows, the sofa-style seating and padded suit are for the amusement of Frankfurt show-goers, but rest of the Cactus is as-per production C4, due in February 2014 – apart from the compressed air hybrid tech. Citroen doesn’t expect to be able to offer it in a serious production car until 2016 at the earliest.