What's the used Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback like?
Once upon a time, it would have been unthinkable for a Citroën to have been anything but a style leader. But the firm went through a long period of hardship, and one of the casualties of that was its avant-garde, and potentially off-putting, design language.
However, a brace of Picasso-dubbed MPVs hinted at a potential rethink to this remit, and when the C4 Cactus appeared in 2014, it truly heralded the return of design flair to the French brand's cars. This quirky hatchback is the firm’s take on a more fashionable family car that has the styling cues of a small SUV, with eye-catching rubber Airbumps on its sides and vivid and contrasting colour options to match. At heart, it’s a practical little family car that's based on the platform of the smaller Citroën C3.
A range of frugal petrol and diesel engines are on offer. Petrol-wise, there's an 81bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre and two turbocharged versions of the same unit making 109bhp or 128bhp. The only diesel initially was a 99bhp 1.6-litre, and it was replaced by a 1.5-litre (also with 99bhp) as part of the car's facelift in 2018.
As far as ride and handling goes, it’s clear that Citroën tried to prioritise comfort, but in the end the C4 Cactus fails to deliver on either count. And if anything, the ride is worse in post-facelift cars. Soft suspension allows the body to pitch back and forth even under light acceleration and braking. And in corners that wouldn’t trouble rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, the overly light steering doesn't give you a feeling of confidence when placing the car's nose in corners. At least grip is strong enough that it'll understeer in an easily controllable manner if you overstep the mark. In addition, the manual gearshift is vague and refinement is disappointing on longer journeys.
There's plenty of space up front and the ultra-soft seats give the impression of sinking into your favourite armchair. Rear space is better for two, rather than three, because the C4 Cactus isn't very wide. Still, there's a good amount of leg and head room back there, and it has a reasonably sized boot. It has a high lip, though, and the opening isn’t that generous, making loading bulkier items more difficult.
Pre-facelift examples come in four different trim levels: Touch, Feel, Flair and Flair Edition. Touch gets a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen system, a DAB radio, a USB port and cruise control. We prefer Feel, because it adds air conditioning, Bluetooth and a leather-trimmed steering wheel, plus gloss black exterior trim and body-coloured door handles. Flair adds plenty more kit, including sat-nav and a rear-view camera, but is pretty pricey. Flair Edition is much the same, just adding fancy seats and a panoramic roof.
Post-facelift cars (from 2018) come only in Feel and Flair trims. Feel carries on very much from what went before, but Flair comes with everything Flair Edition had, along with extra safety technology including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and speed limit recognition. Inside, the infotainment system on all cars gained Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone mirroring.
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