Editorial: The Car That Answers Today's Questions?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Most car advertisements tout the abundance of features that the car offers: big engines, advanced electronics and sexy styling. Not this one.

The Citroen C4 Cactus is, in my opinion, one of the coolest cars on sale today. Yes, it does not make much power, its looks are, well, polarizing (I happen to love it) and it is deliberately spartan.

Sounds a lot like Steve’s famous base model “strippers”, right? Well, this thing is, for lack of a better word, quite chic. A Cactus is cheap in the way that Zara clothing or Ikea furniture is cheap. A base Versa with crank windows is cheap in all the wrong ways.

As many people pointed out, the sheer value of new cars on sale today in the United States means that strippers will never see much success in the market. As commenter Paul wrote

I acknowledge stripper does not equal base, but look at the options list on a totally base Accord LX Sedan with a manual:

Interior Features
Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control with Air-Filtration System
i-MID with 8-Inch High-Resolution WVGA (800×480) Screen and Customizable Feature Settings
Rearview Camera with Guidelines
Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®4
SMS Text Message Function5
Power Windows with Auto-Up/Down Driver’s Window
Cruise Control
Illuminated Steering Wheel-Mounted Cruise, Audio, Phone and i-MID Controls
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column
Map Lights
Fold-Down Rear Seatback with Center Armrest
160-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with 4 Speakers
Pandora® Compatibility6
Bluetooth® Streaming Audio4
USB Audio Interface7
MP3/Auxiliary Input Jack
Exterior Temperature Indicator

Thats not a bad list at all.

All this for just $21,995. Phenomenal value by any measure. A base Cactus, on the other hand, starts at $22,000 USD (just under 13,000 GBP). Even a base Nissan Juke in Europe, which retails for similar money, comes with a 1.6L engine making just 94 horsepower.

The point I’m trying to make is that in America, where cars are so comparatively cheap, something like the Cactus would be a non-starter. But in the rest of the world, where cars, as well as parking, fuel, insurance and other associated costs are much higher, it’s easy to see why the answer to today’s questions might be “less is more”.

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2 of 31 comments
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 25, 2014

    You can un-hipster this car by going to Pep Boys for seat covers, mud flaps, decals and pinstriping, and fuzzy dice. Ain't America great?

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jun 25, 2014

    That was an entertaining commercial. FTR, I happen to like Zara clothes but don't own enough of them to make a judgement on their long term quality. Ikea seems to be hit and miss, I have a sturdy Ikea kitchen table which recently turned ten, but the "chic" little wooden chairs I bought to go with it didn't make it past six (actually two of the four broke in three years). Regarding Cactus, this seems to do almost everything right where something like Juke does almost everything wrong in my eyes. Although Wikipedia is sketchy on power details, French Wikipedia lists things as: "Petrol 1.2 VTi 75/82 hp 1.2 THP 110 hp (2015) Diesel 1.6 e-HDi 92 bhp 1.6 BlueHDi 100 hp (2015) HybridAir (2016" Ikea chic or not, $21K USD for a 75hp car is a non starter for me, feels like a huge penalty. The Diesel option sounds more appropriate. I realize this is not intended for US consumption, but if that were to change I implore Citron to learn from FCA's mistake with the Dart launch and offer a 2.0Lish gas motor. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_C4_Cactus This website notes diesel mileage of 76mpg (presumably Imperial) but conveniently forgets the gas motor mileage. Probably because its terrible. So have a potentially awful driving experience in your little underpowered car oh and btw have some poor mileage too (vs a conventional I4 2.0L). The US EPA rates the MY13 "Smart" car at 34mpg city with its 1.0L gas motor (which requires premium btw). My MY02 Saturn has been consistently delivering 25mpg even with ethanol-ed down gas and 28 or more mixed. This despite the fact the Saturn is physically larger and weighs 648lbs more. Seems like diminished returns the smaller the gas motor, but hey what do I know. Diesel is a whole other ball game. "The Cactus’ engine options aren’t only light but according to the manufacturer, the 99 bhp 1.6 liter diesel is capable of delivering mileage figures of 3.1L/100 km (76 mpg) and emissions of 82 gm of CO2/km. A 110 bhp turbo-charged 3-cylinder gas engine making 109 bhp will be available along with a choice of a 5-speed manual gearbox or Citroen’s ETG auto-box." http://www.gizmag.com/citroen-c4-cactus-officially-unveiled/30766/ http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/smart2013.shtml http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_Fortwo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_SL

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.