What's the used Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback like?
The Citroën C4 Cactus arrived in 2014 as a quirky small SUV designed for those who wanted to stand out from the crowd but remained intent on enjoying practical, comfortable and fuel-efficient motoring.
On the style front, it certainly succeeds - few cars in its class look as cute. What's more, the model has now become compellingly affordable on the used market, like its smaller C3 sibling. It's all very appealing on paper, but how does the C4 Cactus stack up in the real world?
Well, firstly there's 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.
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) get a sharper look, plenty more safety kit – including emergency brake assist and lane departure warning – and are considered regular family hatchbacks, instead of small SUVs like they had been previously. Cars after this update 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.
As far as ride and handling go, 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 the later, post-facelift, 2018-onwards 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.
In 2020, the C4 Cactus was succeeded by a new, third-generation version of the regular C4, with final models sold as 2021 cars.
What used Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback will I get for my budget?
The good news is you can pick up a good C4 Cactus for around £5000, although it'll be an early car with high mileage. If you increase your budget to around the £6500 mark, you’ll find plenty of reasonably low-mileage 2015 cars with a full history. Between £7500 and £8000 will find you a car from 2017 in all trims and with any engine you fancy. Between £9000 and £10,000 should get a 2018 car with a low mileage from a franchised dealer, while £11,500 will get you into a facelifted 2019 1.2 Puretech 110 Feel with delivery mileage. Low-mileage 2020 and 2021 cars start at around £13,000.
Check the value of a used Citroën C4 Cactus What Car? Valuations
Find used Citroën C4 Cactus models for sale here
How much does it cost to run a Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback?
The most economical engine by a mile is the 1.6-litre diesel, which returns a claimed average figure of 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 95g/km. The later 1.5-litre diesel was certified on the new WLTP test, so it seems to get worse economy, at 70.6mpg, but this figure will be more realistic. The turbocharged petrol Puretech 110 returns 65.7mpg and 100g/km of CO2 emissions. In post-facelift cars, it's 61.4mpg for the Puretech 110 and 56.5mpg for the Puretech 130.
Car tax for cars registered before 1 April 2017 will be charged depending on the amount of CO2 it officially emits, while any model registered after that date will pay a flat rate – currently £155 per year for all petrol and diesel cars. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here.
Insurance costs are reasonable, ranging from group 9 to group 19 for the top-spec diesel models. You can opt for a fixed-price servicing once your C4 Cactus is more than three years old; a minor service costs £179 and a major service costs £299.
Which used Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback should I buy?
We like the character of the three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine, but we'd only recommend the turbocharged 109bhp version, because the lesser 81bhp petrol option is rather slow and the 128bhp version won't be as frugal in the real world. The diesel makes sense if economy matters most, but the older 1.6-litre is generally a bit unrefined and you'll have to spend quite a lot to purchase a 1.5-litre.
When it comes to choosing which version to go for, we reckon it's a good idea to go for Feel trim to get air conditioning. This is because the rear windows on the C4 Cactus just pop out, which might not please some rear passengers. Also, we don't think it's worth spending more for a Flair or Flair Edition, since the interior still has cheaper-feeling plastics that spoil any attempt at a premium ambiance.
Our favourite Citroën C4 Cactus: Puretech 110 Feel
What alternatives should I consider to a used Citroën C4 Cactus hatchback?
The C4 Cactus straddles the line between family hatchback and small SUV, so it has many rivals, but it’s the SUV class from which we’ve picked out its three most obvious peers.
The Nissan Juke was one of the first of the dramatically styled small SUVs. It has an okay infotainment system, but it's off the pace in every other respect, with an uncomfortable ride, a cheap and cramped interior and a poor driving position. It also fared poorly in our most recent Reliability Survey.
The Kia Soul has a spacious interior and a great infotainment system, plus it handles well and has a classy interior. It’s well equipped, too. With a transferable seven-year warranty from new, it obviously has a lot going for it as a used buy.
The Renault Captur is refined and has a user-friendly touchscreen infotainment system. It’s also well equipped and cheap on the used car forecourts, too. It’s a very capable car, even if its interior is a bit low-rent and it’s not the greatest to drive.
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