By on October 3, 2014



While not a new debut, the Citroen C4 Cactus is the most interesting new car on sale today – a deliberate reaction against the increasing bloat and complexity of the contemporary automobile.

The regular Citroen C4 looks like any other European C-segment hatchback. The Cactus is designed to be low in weight, power and running costs, while high in style and practicality. But it’s not a hair-shirt exercise in bland frugality either. It is cheap and chic, like H&M or Zara clothing, not cheap and nasty like budget cars used to be.

Although the most powerful Cactus is a 110 horsepower diesel 4-cylinder, it also weighs an amazing 440 lbs less than a Citroen C4 – some 2248 lbs, which is less than a second-generation Mazda Miata. Fuel economy on the European cycle is 60 mpg, while CO2 figures for the most powerful gas version (a 1.2L 3-cylinder turbo) barely crack 100 grams per kilometer. Although it is nominally a crossover, the Cactus benefits from higher ground clearance and seating heights to aid visibility in tight, urban European driving environments. The innovative Airbump panels on the doors also protect against dings and scrapes in tight parking lots.

The Cactus is, by all accounts, not a thrilling drive, and it doesn’t have the generous feature content that most North American buyers are accustomed to. But it represents a “back to the land” ethos of motoring, without looking like it was designed by someone with a masochistic bent towards asceticism.  I think it’s one of the most intriguing vehicles on sale today. My biggest complaint is that I can’t buy one.

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32 Comments on “Paris 2014: Citroen C4 Cactus...”

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    As a family car, it looks to be a pretty good idea. I really want one.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Additional information (seating capacity, amenities, pricing) and some interior photos would be most welcome.

  • avatar

    So what do these cost? Is it a Mitsubishi Mirage/Nissan Micra-level budget car in the $10-12k neighborhood? It has to be a bit more than that right? Is this for emerging markets only or does it sell all over Europe/Africa/Asia?

    It looks pretty reasonably sized too, I’m intrigued…

    • 0 avatar

      The Citroen France website cites a base price of just under 14,000 euro, including tax. (France’s VAT is 20%, plus they include initial license fees in the quoted price.) Convert that to a pre-tax US dollar price, and it’s about US$14,000.

      But to get it nicely equipped, you’ll need to add about 50% to that figure.

      • 0 avatar
        lOmnivore Sobriquet

        Saw two this week.
        It is not big.
        I like the simplicity gamble, and yes it looks nice. Away from the photos, the real life thing is more discreet and even humble. The rear lights are downright cheap looking.
        I do not like the over-trimming of wheel wells making them look ridiculously big. But again the street and real life impression is more refrained, on this point too.
        Overall, nice ensemble and a sure success i’m certain.
        Not that big. Not at all.

        • 0 avatar
          Johannes Dutch

          Agreed, I also think this will be a success.

          It’s relatively cheap, roomy, practical, fuel efficient, light (a plus when you’re in a country where the road tax is based on the vehicle’s weight), simple without being spartan and it sure looks a hell of a lot better than, say, a Renault Kangoo.

          PSA is doing just fine with their current and upcoming models.

  • avatar

    My first comment got et so I did a second one that got et so I did this one. Maybe WordPress will barf ’em all back up.

    Guess not.

  • avatar

    It would be nice to see the specs for the DS3/4 and 5 models and what their performance figures are
    I saw alot in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      In that case you can best go to the English websites of the Euro brands. You can configure any Citroën model you want here:

  • avatar

    I don’t normally like the crossover/SUV type vehicles, but I really like this… maybe because it’s French, but it’s weird enough that I really want it for some inexplicable reason.

  • avatar

    That looks like my missing rubber bath mat!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      “That looks like my missing rubber bath mat!!!!”

      Haha! There’s a thought. I’ll hang bath mats on my car to protect against door dings.

      I kinda like these. I like to park far away just to minimize door dings but some psychos often park next me just to mess with my head.

  • avatar


    had my differences with you before – refreshing to see your take on the cactus – spot on –
    north america is RIPE for an approach like that – an honest no frills high value high design, high practicality car

    to bad GM or any american company could get their head around a value prop like this – at least not yet

    • 0 avatar

      The Kia Soul is already in this segment.

      The Honda Element was a heavier, more powerful (and presumably more reliable) play on the same theme of utilitarian practicality, and it ultimately proved to be a flop.

  • avatar

    This car is a case study for why the U.S. should support harmonization of safety and emissions standards between NAFTA and the EU. These would sell in America if marketed halfway decently at a sub-$15k price point, but you need global volumes to make it worth the risk.

    It’s a great example of how design can rescue “inexpensive” from looking cheap.

  • avatar

    I like it.

  • avatar

    Wow with all the comments on other articles on how “This looks like X and this looks like x”, nothing mentioned that the Jeep Cherokee uses a similar lighting arrangement? DRL, Headlight, and Foglamp on the bottom.

  • avatar

    Cactus – prickly, austere deux chevaux redux.

    French economies in the dumps even Hollande sticks to scooter romps.

  • avatar

    Sounds like similar philosophy to the Old Beetle. I like it.

  • avatar

    They seem quite popular, I’ve seen many around already. I have to add, after having seen a few, it doesn’t seem that special anymore.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    Neighbor has one in white with black cladding (yes, the monstrosities on the doors look just like black anti-slip rubber bath mats, I don’t know what the designer was thinking) and it looks terrible – brand new – I can just imagine what all that plastic will look like in a few years when it starts to fade. It doesn’t look cool, more like they were cheap and only bothered to paint half the car.

    Can’t see why you’d pick this instead of a Soul/Yeti/similar offering.

    • 0 avatar
      lOmnivore Sobriquet

      “…Soul/Yeti/similar..” ..are boring.

      And not as reliable/cheap to run in the long term as they pretend to look (that is looking ‘standard’.)
      I own a 1998 Peugeot 206 diesel (180 000 km thats 112 000 nautical miles) and, hell, recently I decided that I should do something about it…, so bought a 2 liter oil can and poured it in the hole, the one marked with an ideogram “lookslikeoil” and, in three years time, that’s all.

      With a Volkswagen I should have had 3 mechanic’s overhalls allready if i’m to believe my friends.

      (ps : I do not drive a lot)

      • 0 avatar
        lOmnivore Sobriquet

        To tell the whole truth I bought my 1998 peug 206 from a mecanic’s who had made a few replacements : clutch, front suspension parts, and, well, new tires.
        Which brought it at a 3500 euros bill, smthng less than 4k$, a bit expensive.
        French cars are a bit expensive.

  • avatar

    Quite a sympathetic car in it’s unpretentiousness. Something no car of the current VW (and siblings) line-up will ever achieve.

    Biggest draw-back to me are the rear windows which do not wind down. Now that’s too much cost and weight saving to me.

    • 0 avatar

      I think Skoda has a few offerings that could give the Cactus a run for it’s money both in design and unpretentiousness. They’re not quite that spartan though.
      And don’t foget Dacia, with their ‘real’ cheap unpretentious cars.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I’ve had a short drive in a Cactus and I don’t think it would do well with American buyers. Very light weight means there’s not much baffling, which results in a loud cabin. The cabin itself is not particularly comfortable and features little in the way of entertainment – no rev counter. All versions are desperately underpowered; think rental Corolla. This is a value-led exercise which could do well in almost every region except North America – and while it’s pretty cheap (GBP13K), the top trim is approaching GBP20K.

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