Paris 2014: Citroen C4 Cactus

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
paris 2014 citroen c4 cactus

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.

Join the conversation
2 of 32 comments
  • Motormouth Motormouth on Oct 06, 2014

    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.

  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
  • Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
  • Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.