Citroen C4 Cactus (2014-present)

If you're looking for a mobile armchair, then the Citroen C4 Cactus fits the bill

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Comfortable over Britain's rough roads
Efficient engine line-up
Spacious and practical interior

Weaknesses 

Unsettled in corners
Low reliability score
Touchscreen awkward to use when driving

When the Citroen C4 Cactus first arrived in 2014, it looked as wacky as it sounded, thanks to its side panels of plastic bubbles, known as airbumps.

Quirky and characterful, these cars stand out a mile on the road. However, later models sold from the beginning of 2018 aren’t quite so distinctive, as most of the airbumps have been removed, leaving just a small strip at the bottom.

Even so, the C4 Cactus remains a car unlike any other. It’s a crossover that's little different to a conventional hatchback, such as a Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, apart from its higher driving position. That extra height, though, is less than in other popular crossovers, such as the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Ford Kuga.

It’s an unusual set-up, but it works perfectly for the C4 Cactus, which is focused on comfort, rather than hair-raising performance.

The extra height helps the car to iron out imperfections in the road and the most recent non-airbump examples really excel, thanks to a new type of suspension that reduces sudden jolts over speed bumps and potholes, and comes as standard on Feel and Flair models. It might not be the ‘magic carpet ride’ that Citroen claims it is, but it does cope very well with British roads. There’s no better family car if comfort is your absolute priority.

The cost of its soft suspension is that the car leans in fast corners. At the same time, the light steering, which makes parking easier, is imprecise when cornering: a world away from the sharp and accurate steering from the Vauxhall Astra, Mini Clubman and Mazda 3.

These elements of the C4 Cactus force you to drive steadily and smoothly, which is the point of the car. The interior is designed to be calming, from the comfortable seats - which are even more supportive in non-airbump versions - the minimalist dashboard that’s uncluttered and simple, plus attractive, tactile design elements, such as the top-opening glovebox that looks like expensive luggage and the leather door pulls in place of handles.

The screen in more modern versions works better than older cars, where it’s slow to respond, but the display is smaller and less intuitive than in a Renault Megane, Seat Leon or Skoda Karoq. Changing the temperature is a pain; physical dials are much simpler.

Your in-car relaxation isn’t helped by the engine range: all demand frequent gearchanges to provide adequate power, and this can result in lots of noisy engine revs, particularly from diesels. The clunky automatic gearbox doesn't fare much better, either.

Despite an average-sized boot, the C4 Cactus is spacious inside. Old-fashioned pop-out hinged windows at the back reduce the size of the door panels and increase elbow room. Newer cars have hollowed-out front seat backs that increase legroom for rear-seat passengers. More recent 2018 cars also come better-equipped. Standard items include parking sensors; air conditioning; as well as Apple Carplay and Android Auto for simple control of phone apps. List prices start at less than £18,000 before discounts.

But if you think that losing the airbumps has stripped the C4 Cactus of its character, then there are plenty of used models available - almost 30,000 cars were sold over four years. Mid-range Flair models should come with most of what you’ll be looking for, and prices typically start at less than £8,500, or £150 a momth on representative finance.

The C4 Cactus received a respectable four star safety ranking in 2014 when it was tested by the independent Euro NCAP organisation and has two sets of Isofix points in the rear seats for securely mounting child seats.

  

Last Updated 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 15:00

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
358 litres
Width: 
1,714mm
Length: 
4170mm
Height: 
1480mm
Tax: 
£140-200 in the first year, £140 thereafter

Best Citroen C4 Cactus for... 

Citroen C4 Cactus Feel BlueHDi 100
The diesel version of the C4 Cactus is by far the most economical of the range. It's got an official fuel economy figure of 76.3mpg; expect around 55mpg in normal conditions.
Citroen C4 Cactus Feel PureTech 110
This nippy petrol engine offers a good blend of fuel economy and performance, while the entry level trim level includes rear parking sensors, plus Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so you can use your phone's navigation app as a sat-nav on the car's screen.
Citroen C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 130
None of the C4 Cactus variants could exactly be described as a performance car, but the higher-powered petrol is the quickest to 62mph from a standing start (8.2 seconds)
Citroen C4 Cactus Feel Edition PureTech 82
The limited edition entry-level C4 Cactus lacks the advanced suspension that's the car's major selling point.

Citroen C4 Cactus History 

  • September 2014 The Citroen C4 Cactus goes on sale in Britain.
  • July 2016 Flair Edition and Rip Curl special editions feature minor upgrades, plus the Rip Curl edition adds all-weather tyres and a Grip Control traction system that helps the car tackle snow, mud and ice.
  • August 2016 The W special edition is an upgrade on Flair cars, adding 17in white alloy wheels, as well as white-coloured paint, door mirors and roof bars.
  • April 2018 The updated C4 Cactus arrives in Britain, stripped of most airbumps but with more comfortable ride and seats, plus extra standard equipment. A limited edition Feel Edition model lacks the car's advanced comfort suspension.

Understanding Citroen C4 Cactus car names 

  • C4 Cactus
  • Trim level
    Feel
  • Engine
    Blue HDI 100 S&S
  • Gearbox
    5-Speed manual
  • Trim level
    There are six trims in total (Touch, Feel, Flair, Rip Curl, W and Flair Edition). Each higher level typically means more equipment and a larger price
  • Engine
    Both diesel and petrol engines are offered. The one diesel engine is labelled BlueHDi and the petrol counterparts are referred to as PureTech. The number is the engine's horsepower, which is also known as PS. All engines use start-stop technology (shown as S&S), enabling them to switch themselves off to save fuel when the car is stopped.
  • Gearbox
    5-speed shows that the car has five gears. Automatic gearboxes are known by the letters ETG.

Citroen C4 Cactus Engines 

PureTech 75, PureTech 82, PureTech 110, BlueHDi 100

Current C4 Cactus buyers can essentially choose between a three-cylinder petrol or four-cylinder diesel engine, with a choice of power ratings for the petrol units.

The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine is available with either 82 horsepower (hp), 110hp or 130hp.

The base model has a five-speed manual gearbox and is extremely slow; the 110hp comes with a manual or automatic option, while the range-topping 130hp car is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. Both of the more powerful options deliver steady performance, which is never earth-shattering.

There’s very little difference in terms of fuel consumption between these three engines. According to the Equa Index, which tests the efficiency of cars on public roads, you can expect around 50mpg in normal driving conditions - ignore the official pg figures, which are notoriously inaccurate.

The 1.6-litre diesel is, as you’d expect more efficient, with real-world fuel economy of 55mpg and low CO2 emissions of 96g/km, which keeps company car tax low. It’s a bit grumbly sounding, but not too loud (nothing that can’t be drowned out by turning up the stereo, anyway).

Fuel

Official fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph

Top speed

PureTech 82

Petrol

60.1mpg

82hp

13.1sec

105mph

PureTech 110

Petrol

62.8mpg

110hp

9.4sec

117mph

PureTech 130

Petrol

58.9mpg

130hp

8.2sec

120mph

Blue HDi 100

Diesel

78.5mpg

100hp

10.7sec

114mph

Citroen C4 Cactus Trims 

Touch, Feel Flair, Rip Curl, W and Flair Edition

Kicking off the line-up is the most basic Touch trim level, which is only available with the entry-level PureTech 75 petrol engine. It features LED daytimes running lights, the Airbump technology and the seven-inch touchscreen display inside but it comes fitted with basic 15-inch alloy wheels and it lacks many of the technological driver aids of more expensive models.

In fact, you don't even get a rear parcel shelf, Bluetooth mobile phone pairing isn't part of the infotainment package and the driver doesn't get the handy front armrest that runs along the centre of the vehicle.

Those wanting slightly more luxurious surrounds must step up to Feel, which opens up the entire range of engines, as well as adding fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, body coloured door handles, gloss mirrors, air conditioning and mobile phone connectivity for hands-free calls and music streaming.

Better still, all current Feel models also receive split folding rear seats, which are particularly handy for carting around awkward cargo.

Flair cranks the stylistic elements up a notch and adds eye-catching 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, heated door mirrors, a front armrest, auto lights and wipers, sat-nav and a colour reversing camera with rear parking sensors.

Rip Curl sees bespoke details from the famous surf brand added, as well as aluminium effect front and rear bumper protectors, orange interior highlights and the aforementioned Grip Control traction technology.

Flair Edition adds the same thermally insulated panoramic sunroof as the one found on the Rip Curl edition but takes a slightly more chic approach to the interior, with black leather and grey cloth inside.

Finally, a new W edition model has recently hit the market, which is based on the range-topping Flair models but adds white door mirrors, white roof bars, unique 17-inch white ‘Cross’ alloy wheels and a Pearl White body colour, as well as Dune coloured Airbumps.

Citroen C4 Cactus Reliability and warranty 

Citroën's three-year/60,000-mile warranty is fairly standard in the automotive industry. The company has been working hard to shake off its reputation for sub-standard reliability and the simpler features of the C4 Cactus - such as pop-out rear windows should mena that there's less to go wrong.

Also, a by-product of cutting 200kg from its weight compared to the Citroen C4 hatchback - with which it shares mechanical parts - is that consumables, such as the brake pads and tyres, should function better for longer.

Used Citroen C4 Cactus 

Citroen's tend to lose a lot of value quickly and the C4 Cactus continues this trend. It's expected to be worth just a third of its list price after three years.

It's good news for those looking to secure a used car bargain, as mid-range low-mileage examples can be found for less than £9,000.