Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Our favourite engine is the 109bhp 1.2 turbo petrol badged Puretech 110; it picks up eagerly from low revs and doesn’t mind being worked hard, although there’s a bit of a surge of power in the middle of the rev range. That engine is also offered in a lower-powered form, badged 82. This version produces 81bhp and is tolerable around town, but feels gutless on the motorway. Thank the omission of a turbo for that.
If you want a little more lead in your pencil, the Puretech 130 is also available. Performance is strong and it copes with motorway journeys the best out of all the engines available, but we’d argue that it’s not worth the premium over the Puretech 110, which is the definite pick of the line-up.
Suspension and ride comfort
From the moment you pull away, it’s clear that Citroën has tried to prioritise ride comfort over handling, but in the end the C4 Cactus fails to deliver on either count.
The soft suspension allows the C4 Cactus’s body to pitch back and forth even under light acceleration and braking. It’s not an unpleasant sensation at first and gives you the impression that you’re driving a modern-day 2CV rather than a run-of-the-mill hatchback. However, like a number of gimmicks found in the Cactus, the novelty soon wears off. In corners that wouldn’t trouble rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, the C4 Cactus lists like a top-heavy ship – a sensation that, when combined with overly light steering, can be unnerving.
This would be more acceptable if the C4 Cactus delivered a noticeably better ride than rivals, but it doesn’t. Despite the fancy new Progressive Hydraulic Cushions (designed to allow the suspension to soak up large and small bumps), the C4 Cactus still gets upset by rutted urban roads, with small imperfections making themselves felt through the base of your seat. It’s a shame, because the C4 Cactus deals well with bigger obstacles such as speed bumps at low speeds.
The C4 Cactus’s 1.2-litre petrol engines are also rather disappointing because they all sound gruff when worked hard and send the occasional vibration up through the soles of the shoes. Thankfully, road noise is well isolated, although there is a fair amount of wind whistle on the motorway.
Some drivers may also struggle to get used to the sharp initial braking response when you press the middle pedal – something that can make the C4 Cactus a little jerky at low speeds. At least wind and road noise are well contained.