Citroën C4 Cactus long-term test review

Citroën's funky C4 Cactus is aimed at family buyers who prioritise comfort. We've got four months to see if it delivers...

C4 Cactus parked in Brighton
  • The car: Citroën C4 Cactus Puretech 110 Feel
  • Run by: Kris Culmer, sub-editor
  • Why it’s here: To prove that comfort can take priority in a family hatchback
  • Needs to: To prove that not everything has to be about sportiness

Price £18,090 Price as tested £19,815 Mileage 3565 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 45.0mpg Options fitted Connect Nav and Connect Box (£800), metallic paint (£495), City Camera Pack (£250), white foglight surround and Airbump highlight (£180)

20 November 2018 – Focused in

Goodness gracious me, talk about an eye-opener: I’ve just spent a week in the new Ford Focus.

To buy a C4 Cactus in the same spec as mine would cost you £18,505, whereas the equivalent Focus – in Zetec trim and with the 123bhp turbo 1.0-litre engine – is £1645 more. However, on PCP finance, you can expect the Focus to cost a scant £10 more each month.

There’s little difference in spec; both come with cloth seats, air-con and a touchscreen infotainment system with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and smartphone mirroring, while the Cactus adds rear parking sensors and the Focus leather to the wheel and gearknob.

However, the Focus is better by a long chalk in every other regard.

Ford Focus 2018

Okay, the car I tried was a diesel, but What Car?’s testers tell me Ford’s 1.0-litre petrol is economical and gives decent performance.

Anyhow, the huge gulf is in how it drives. The Focus’s steering is light but at speed develops a meaty, connected feel, while the chassis simply flows through corners, just digging in and following your line. It’s truly a pleasure.

It’s a black-and-white difference to the Cactus, which has numb steering, leans over legendarily in corners and then struggles to settle. This is made worse by fore-and-aft pitching due to the vague clutch making it very hard to shift smoothly. It’s like driving a blancmange.

Hang on, though; doesn’t great handling result in an unpleasant ride? Normally, yes. But the Focus’s ride is actually rather lovely, in contrast to its French rival, which is actually never better than average at any speed. On top of that, the Focus’s front seats are much comfier and give immeasurably better side support.

Citroen C4 Cactus long-term

Plus, the American’s interior feels plusher, and it doesn’t require you to use the touchscreen to change the temperature.

The practicality game ends in another L for the Cactus. It has decent room for two adults in the back, but the Focus has space for two six-footers to comfortably sit line astern. And although the former's boot can take one more suitcase, it has to be lifted over a truly massive lip.

So, if you’re after a practical and comfy family car, believe me, an extra £120 per year to get a Focus over a Cactus isn’t steep; rather, it’s an absolute bargain.


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