(first posted 9/1/2017) We have a keen Citroen fan here, who must have gotten in early to secure the rather clever personalised plate “C4CTUS”. And not a shrinking violet either, to have chosen this colour. As is the way with Citroens, the Cactus is an interesting car, even the name reminds me of the old Deefa name given to a few dogs.
The infamous “air bumps” are the signature feature on the C4 Cactus, being designed to prevent door dings. While it may look strange when you compare to 30+ years ago when a thin rubber strip used to do the job, having seemingly half the door covered is not such a silly idea given the wide range of competing door heights around today. It certainly makes quite the contrast to most cars that have completely unadorned, and vulnerable, door skins! The air bumps can be had in four different colours; black, grey, Dune (a sandy-beige) or Chocolate (brown, above).
While writing this, I noticed that the roof rails are unusually-shaped too; those protrusions could make good tie-down points! They are available in black or white too – between the various different colour combinations inside and out there are apparently 21,000 different options!
There are many other unusual aspects to the Cactus, such as the pop-out rear door windows or the frontal airbags that come out of the roof rather than the dashboard. Having just a single cupholder is worthy of note. Needless to say the styling is quirky and original with the headlights almost hidden compared to the running lights above.
The powertrains are a little more conventional. In Australia you have the choice of a 1.2L turbo petrol (81 kW/108 hp) and manual transmission or a 1.6L TD (68 kW/91 hp) with an automatic – which is actually a robotised manual gearbox, which for me at least sets alarm bells ringing. Thanks to the predominance of manuals, and consequent lesser development, European automatic gearboxes used to be worthy of suspicion. I don’t think a robotised manual has ever been done well (cue Paul’s experience with the Fiat 500L), and road testers have not given the robotised manual good reviews in the Cactus either. There will soon be a conventional automatic available with the petrol engine!
The Cactus is an unashamed love-it-or-hate-it car, which certainly stands out from the crowd. This one was away from the crowd; being at the far end of a small suburban shopping centre on a quiet weekday morning.
As a bonus feature, here is a car you wouldn’t expect in a similar retina-searing shade of radioactive lime – a Toyota Corolla! Or a (former Scion) Corolla iM, if it was in the US. Apart from the colour, and the fact it wasn’t even a “sporty” model, I don’t know there is a lot to say about this car, which is why it has ended up as a footnote here.