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Citroen C4 Cactus 2018 review

Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

19 Dec 2017 • 19 min read

I'll admit I was intrigued when I was booked in to review this car for families. I'd seen a few around and thought, 'that's an interesting choice of vehicle'. Because it is... interesting. It's something to look at. Coupled with the fact I've never driven a Citroen before and I couldn't wait to see what it was like. Bet you can't either.

How does it drive?

Well enough. It's almost like driving a manual, but it's actually an auto, which I didn't mind at all. I quite like feeling the engine behind the accelerator, it makes things fun and at least feels like I'm driving the car, rather than it being on autopilot.

It's not exactly smooth, and the stop-start feature turns on as soon as the car pauses which is something to get used to. The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine doesn't necessarily have a lot of power, but it has a lot of zip and I feel like I'm in a little European car, zig-zagging through traffic, because it's quite agile.

The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine doesn’t necessarily have a lot of power, but it has a lot of zip. The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine doesn’t necessarily have a lot of power, but it has a lot of zip.

The steering is responsive, I can hit the accelerator and overtake easily, it zooms up hills and is a fun experience. Driving in the Citroen C4 Cactus evokes memories of zooming across the autostrade in country France, and winding through tiny streets in small European villages.

It's a small SUV, so is up against cars like the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR. The size makes it easy to park and I was able to squeeze into some tiny parking spots this week.

How does it look?

Very different to the rest of the small SUV market, and indeed, very different to any other car. Citroens have always been distinctive, with a certain roundness to their body, and they're not as concerned with 'keeping up with the Jones' in terms of sleekness or sportiness.

So, to set this car apart even further, a quilted panel has been added onto each side. Does it work? That's completely subjective. If you like it, you like it, if you don't, you don't. It is most definitely unique, and will set you apart from the rest.

They’re not as concerned with ‘keeping up with the Jones’ in terms of sleekness or sportiness. They’re not as concerned with ‘keeping up with the Jones’ in terms of sleekness or sportiness.

On the inside, it's fairly basic, with a standard dash, centre console and old school park brake situation. There is a huge electric speedometer which you really can't miss while driving, and that's always helpful to stay under the speed limit.

I did find the fabric seats a little uncomfortable, and I don't think they'd be particularly good on a long journey. They're a bit too flat, and the fabric doesn't feel good to touch.

If this car were a celebrity, it would be Anna Kendrick. You know, little, zippy and cute, great company in short bursts at a party but probably not an ideal marathon partner.

a quilted panel has been added onto each side. Does it work? That’s completely subjective. a quilted panel has been added onto each side. Does it work? That’s completely subjective.

How spacious is it?

You're not buying this car to lounge around in and have a picnic in the back. The Citroen Cactus is a city car. It's a small SUV that is easy to park but still gives you enough space inside so you don't feel like you're in a small hatch.

The roof is strangely shaped and in some parts, low - even for me and I’m 161cm. The roof is strangely shaped and in some parts, low - even for me and I’m 161cm.

I've got plenty of leg space and so did my 185cm husband, but the roof is strangely shaped and in some parts, low - even for me and I'm 161cm. I hit my head a few times. My two girls, aged four and six, had a good amount of room in the back, it fit their carseats perfectly fine, but I wouldn't put a third one in the middle.

The boot is large for a small SUV. It fits a CarsGuide pram, which the C-HR and the Kona also do, but the Mazda CX-3 doesn't. But it also fits grocery bags as well as the pram, something the Kona didn't. This is a great thing in a small car, and definitely a major selling point.

The boot is large for a small SUV. The boot is large for a small SUV.

How easy is it to use every day?

Because it's small and zippy and doesn't have too many bells and whistles, there are no fancy components to get used to. This car is a breeze to use every day, everything is where you think it should be. The doors open wide to make getting things in and out easier. The children can climb in by themselves and the boot is a good height off the ground, so you're not hoisting a heavy pram up too high.

There is one cupholder in the front, which is rather small and doesn't fit my Keep Cup, however it will fit a regular takeaway cup if you're still using those. There are no cupholders in the back, but there are bottle holders in the back doors, and storage spots in the front doors.

On the inside, it's fairly basic, with a standard dash, centre console and old school park brake situation. On the inside, it's fairly basic, with a standard dash, centre console and old school park brake situation.

The biggest complaint I have about the Citroen C4 Cactus actually came from my four-year old daughter, who tried with all her might to open the back window. But she couldn't. And that's because when I finally stopped the car to figure it out, I realised it was an awning back window, so it pops out about four cm at the back.

Now, opening the window is the only scrap of independence she has in the car, and not being able to do this really made her... unhappy, to say the least. So this was a deal-breaker for me and my family. Sure, it's a subjective thing, if your children aren't as concerned with fresh air as much as my little one is, you'll probably be fine.

It's also missing back air vents, but that is fairly standard across the class in small SUVs.

How safe is it?

The Citroen Cactus comes with airbags for the passenger, driver and side curtain airbags extending to the back row. There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for children's car seats. However it's missing Auto Emergency Braking which now comes standard on a fair few of its rivals, and things like collision warning systems.

What is the tech like?

Just because it's all fairly standard looking, doesn't mean it doesn't work well. There is a 7.0-inch multimedia screen that's used to control all of the car's settings, and it's easy to figure out and use. I'm able to connect my phone and there is a digital radio. The sat nav is fairly tricky to navigate however, I found it clunky, and not as user friendly as it could be.

The reverse parking camera is fab and quite high-res, so really easy to see out of and helpful when parking.

There is a 7.0-inch multimedia screen that's used to control all of the car's settings, and it's easy to figure out and use. There is a 7.0-inch multimedia screen that's used to control all of the car's settings, and it's easy to figure out and use.

How much does it cost to run?

The Citroen C4 Cactus I drove comes in at $29,990. It's also one of the most fuel efficient, with Citroen claiming 4.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, which is almost two litres less than the Toyota CH-R and the Hyundai Kona, so that's also going to be a significant saving.

The Citroen comes with a three year/100,000 km warranty and roadside assist for that time period.


The Wrap

The Citroen C4 Cactus is a cool, quirky car that is one of the best priced in the small SUV market. If you're on a budget but still want to leave an impression, this could be the car for you. Fuel efficiency is where the Cactus really shines and it surprised me with its fun, zippy drive.

It wasn't the right car for my family of four due to the back window situation, but if your family is you and your 13-year-old son who sits in the front, and you want something with more space than a hatch that still fits into tight parking spots, this is a great choice. I gave it a family rating of 6.5 stars out of 10 for a family with more than one child. My girls gave it 6.5 teddies out of 10 - they really love their fresh air.

Likes

Zippy
Easy to park
Price and fuel efficiency

Dislikes

Awning back windows
Front seats
Lack of interior styling

Scores

Nedahl:

3.3

The Kids:

3.3

$26,990 - $30,190

Based on new car retail price

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