Citroen C4 Cactus revealed

* Radical family hatchback: first details * Rubber side panels to absorb car park scrapes * Due on sale in the autumn, priced from around £14k...

Citroen C4 Cactus revealed

This is the Citroen C4 Cactus, a radical new model designed to appeal to those who want a family hatchback with more flair than a VW Golf or Ford Focus.

The C4 Cactus is halfway between a regular hatch and a small SUV such as a Nissan Qashqai, although it’s only available in front-wheel drive. It features a distinctive design, with ultra-slim headlights, a raised driving position and relatively thin side glass.

However, the most interesting external feature is ‘Airbumps’, a textured, coloured rubber finish in key areas of the doors and bumpers. It’s designed to be more resistant to the sort of minor bumps and scrapes that occur in car parks. Airbumps are standard and available in four colours: Black, Grey, Dune and Chocolate. The car itself is available in 10 colours, and there are three interior colour themes.

The C4 Cactus is 416cm long and 173cm wide, so shorter and narrower than a VW Golf. It’s around 3cm taller than the conventional hatch, though, at 148cm – but has a lower stance than, say, a Nissan Qashqai.

The car sits on the same chassis parts as the Citroen DS3, Peugeot 208 and 2008. This lighter set of parts and a string of other weight-saving measures, including an aluminium bonnet, pop-out rear windows instead of electrically operated ones and a single-piece rear seat, help the C4 Cactus to weigh not much more than a tonne.

Engine details are scarce, but there will be at least two petrol engines available. One of these (probably a 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit) will emit less than 100g/km of CO2. Again, there will be at least two diesels, one of which will emit just 82g/km. The standard transmission will be a five-speed manual, although Citroen’s jerky ETG automated manual gearbox will also be offered.

Higher trim levels of the Cactus will get the panoramic glass roof seen here as standard (Citroen says the glass has enough heat-resisting properties to render a blind unnecessary), making the cabin feel airy. It’s worth noting that this cuts into rear headroom, although anyone up to six feet tall will be fine.

The single bench front seat of the concept has gone, but the front seats are still wider and more ‘sofa-like’ than normal. The pop-out rear windows also avoid the need for winding mechanisms, and the resultant extra space on each side is big enough for two 1.5-litre bottles. The standard boot capacity is 358 litres, or slightly less than a Golf’s, and the rear bench seat folds down to extend this space.

The fascia is clean and uncluttered, with a simple display ahead of the steering wheel instead of a traditional wraparound instrument cowl. There’s also a central seven-inch touch-screen that operates key functions, such as infotainment, sat-nav, telephone and a line-up of apps, such as petrol station or restaurant finders.

Citroen’s inspiration for the C4 Cactus’s design was Apple, whose products deliver ‘sophisticated simplicity’ without feeling cheap. That ethos is likely to transfer to the car’s pricing, which is likely to start at around £14,000.

Citroen says it will offer the C4 Cactus on a range of payment plans modelled on the mobile phone industry. Customers will be able to pay a fixed monthly rate, including finance, insurance and servicing, or a mileage-based fee. However, it’s not yet clear if all of these options will be offered in the UK when the car reaches showrooms here in the autumn.