Citroen's new C4 Cactus will aim to restore the French brand's reputation for smooth-riding, comfortable family transport, according to the company's product boss.
The radical new hatchback made its public debut at the Geneva motor show this week. It brings a freshly drawn-up set of principles from Citroen, including usable technology, protection and 'more design' - and these will extend to other models such as the next generation of C2 and C3. The other new area of focus is comfort - and the firm believes that even though the Cactus is based on an existing set of chassis parts (it shares many components with the smaller DS3, for example), it can deliver the sort of cosseting ride that made the brand famous in the second half of the 20th century.
Citroen product director Thomas d'Haussy told What Car?, 'We make a big difference with Cactus in terms of comfort. We had the opportunity to start from the beginning, to re-invent the way we build the car, and starting from the way we drive cars every day.
'It's kind of the historical synthesis between comfort and handling, which is part of our DNA,' he added. 'The balance we have found on Cactus, between ride comfort and handling, is really what we want to do for Citroen.
'We've achieved it through losing weight [C4 Cactus weighs more than 250kg less than a regular C4], through the way we adapt the comfort of the seat to the comfort of the suspension, and also the mix of chassis tuning between accuracy and comfort. The car is still precise, of course, but we discovered that customers don't need to have something so absolutely accurate; it's still fun to drive, but the tuning allowed us the possibility to bring in more comfort while still having that. It's a good balance on this car.'
Citroen sources admit that one of the reasons behind the focus on comfort with the C4 Cactus is the criticism of the DS5 executive model. That car drew praise for its bold design and well-finished cabin, but fell down on ride quality. 'There has been a re-think on the suspension of the DS5 and we have done some new settings,' said d'Haussy. The new set-up is expected to arrive, along with a new engine option, on UK cars later this year.