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Citroen C4 Cactus gains petrol auto

The petrol-powered variant of Citroen’s quirky C4 Cactus will be expanded to include an automatic transmission, and it is scheduled to reach Australian showrooms in the second half of 2017.

Since its launch Down Under in early 2016, the diminutive 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine has been offered exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel variant comes with a six-speed single-clutch automated manual gearbox that has been the subject of criticism due to its sluggish and unintuitive nature.

The new transmission will be offered in the UK from February onwards, but Australian customers will have to wait until after June to take delivery of an auto petrol variant.

The 1.2-litre petrol engine to which it is paired has won praise from critics, taking out the gong for its class in the last two International Engine of the Year awards.

Citroen says the new transmission delivers “smooth power delivery, ultra-fast gear changes and dynamic efficiency”, and features a ‘creep’ function for use in congested traffic.

For comparison, the automated manual diesel comes in at $29,990.

The UK-spec automatic achieves a fuel economy figure of 5.1 litres per 100km, which is slightly less efficient than the manual which sips 4.7L/100km.

When the auto makes its way into Aussie showrooms, it will likely fetch a higher asking price than the manual, which is offered for $26,990 plus on-road costs. For comparison, the automated manual diesel comes in at $29,990.

The C4 Cactus has failed to make a big splash since launching in March last year, however its 226 sales were enough to make it Citroen Australia’s best selling passenger vehicle for 2016. 

The Berlingo light van remains the French brand’s best selling model overall with 315 sales, with the Grand C4 Picasso coming in third with 126 sales.

It beat the 108 sales of the 3008 from PSA sister brand Peugeot, but fell behind its 2008 stablemate (359 sales) and other quirky offerings such as the Nissan Juke (2382), Jeep Renegade (1051), Fiat 500X (599) and Skoda Yeti (489).

One special edition, the Rip Curl C4 Cactus, was launched in September and is still on sale for $27,990 drive-away.

Will the addition of an automatic transmission help boost sales of the C4 Cactus? Tell us what you think in the comments below.