Citroen C4 Cactus review 2020

The Cactus is a funky family car that offers a comfortable ride and low running costs.

£12,290
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Quirky styling
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • Not much fun to drive
  • Suspect interior quality
  • Touchscreen isn’t the easiest to use
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

  • Video

  • Price Guide

  • Trims

  • Summary

Model review

Citroen has become renowned for its funky models which have been innovative and happy to stand out from the crowd. From the early Traction Avant to the iconic 2CV and more modern cars like the DS 3, this French firm has always aimed to do things a bit differently. 

And that was certainly true of the C4 Cactus, which debuted in 2014 as a bold and striking new crossover to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and Nissan Qashqai. It’s best known for one cool thing – its ‘airbumps’. Essentially these are moulded plastic sections stuck onto the doors which aim to prevent car park dings. A great and simple idea. 

Alongside the striking design - which certainly divided opinion both then and now - it also impressed with its lightness, which is something that helped the model to be 20 per cent cheaper to run than plenty of its rivals. 

Latest model

Come facelift time for the C4 Cactus in 2018, Citroen made the unusual decision to backtrack on some of this model’s funky elements – introducing a more restrained design that made this model more of a hatchback than a crossover like its predecessor. It might’ve been to fill the void left by the standard C4 hatchback, which was discontinued at a similar time. 

Another key element on this update was comfort, with Citroen introducing a new hydraulic suspension system that allows for one of the most comfortable rides around. This was coupled with its ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats, which have since been rolled out across much of the brand’s range. A series of new driver assistance tech was also introduced. 

However, with Citroen recently unveiling the new C4 and electric e-C4, the Cactus’ days are numbered as it will soon be replaced by that model. 

Value for money

The Citroen C4 Cactus has always excelled when it comes to value for money. Granted, it’s not the most affordable car in its segment, but with a generous level of standard kit and practical interior, it still impresses. 

Today the C4 Cactus is only available in one trim level – Flair – and is priced from £22,535. It might seem a bit expensive next to cheaper rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, but the long list of equipment helps to justify it. Highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, keyless entry and start and a seven-inch touchscreen with all the bells and whistles. 

The Cactus also offers brilliant value on the used market, with high-mileage and early examples available from as little as £4,000. Expect to pay another £1,000 for something with around 70,000 miles. Facelifted examples meanwhile are available from just £8,000. And huge savings are available on nearly-new models, with delivery mileage examples available from just £14,000. 

Looks and image

You’ll either love or hate the way the C4 Cactus looks, but one thing you can’t dispute is that it stands out from the crowd and doesn’t look like any other car in its class. From Citroen’s trademark Chevron grille to its stacked headlights, chunky plastic cladding and big roof bars, it’s a refreshing change to the norm. Pre-facelift models are the more eye-catching, though, thanks to their more prominent airbumps and a bolder colour selection. 

The funky design of the C4 Cactus also extends to the interior, from the unusually-shaped steering wheel to the digital dial display and range of textures used throughout. Quirky touches like pop-out rear windows and belt buckle-like straps on the door cards are also quirks of this Citroen, too. The quality is a little underwhelming, though, as it lacks the premium feel you get in plenty of rivals, while the seven-inch touchscreen is not especially easy to use, either. 

If you’re looking for a comfortable hatchback or crossover, the facelifted Cactus should be high on your priority list. Especially with its brilliant seats, this Citroen does feel like it floats over the road, rather than drive along on it. Some might mind it a bit too floaty, though – especially rear seat passengers. The light steering and body lean also means the Cactus is not a car that will be bought for driving pleasure. 

Video review

Space and practicality

The Cactus sits in a strange middle ground between a conventional hatchback and crossover, and isn’t the most practical car in its class. 

Its 358-litre boot is a decent size, but is slightly less than plenty of conventional hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, though does increase to 1,170 litres if you drop the rear bench. 

There’s a good amount of space in the back, though, and rear passengers should be able to get comfortable. That said, models fitted with a panoramic glass roof will offer noticeably less headroom than the standard car. 

Engines

A good range of petrol and diesel engines are available on the C4 Cactus, with a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit available with either 108bhp or 128bhp. The former comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the more powerful engine favours a six-speed automatic instead. 

As for diesels, there’s a 1.5-litre powerplant on offer with an output of either 99bhp or 118bhp. Again, the former uses a manual transmission while the latter features an automatic instead. 

While none of this Citroen’s engines are particularly powerful, the lightness of the Cactus means all models offer decent performance for a car of this type – all managing the run from 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds. 

Running costs

Efficiency has always been one of the C4 Cactus’ best assets, and even with a lack of electrified powertrain option, it should still prove very affordable to run. 

The diesel models are the most efficient – returning up to a combined 63.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km, though the petrol options still claim to be able to achieve 50mpg, with CO2 emissions of 131g/km. 

Insurance groups ranging from 16 to 22 should also be another area where this Citroen is affordable. 

Things to look out for

The Cactus utilises a range of engines and technology used across Peugeot and Citroen models, so should prove to be fairly dependable. However, some owners have grumbled about the model’s quality, while the infotainment system can prove troublesome. 

Rivals 

If you’re looking at a C4 Cactus, you could compare it to both a regular hatchback and a crossover. 

Choose the former, and the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf are three of the best options. But if you fancy a crossover then the Renault Captur, Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Cross are three of the best. 

Depreciation

The C4 Cactus depreciates quite heavily, especially up to around three years old. For that reason, it’s worth looking at a nearly-new model, rather than being the first owner – even if it means you don’t have free reign over your car’s specification. 

Trims explained

While just one trim level is available on a new Cactus today, Flair and Origin models have been available before. To give a better understanding of the range, we’ll explore all three here.

Feel

Standard equipment includes a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, along with cruise control and air conditioning. You also get rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and 16-inch alloy wheels.

From £3,800 (used)

Origins

Origins versions bring larger black 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control and additional styling elements thanks to bronze-coloured design elements.

From £12,000 (used - not introduced until 2019)

Flair

So the only model available to buy new at the time of writing is the Flair. This brings front rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, Citroen Connect Box emergency assistance and a range of safety kit including lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking.

From £22,535 (new)/ £5,000 (used)

Summary

  1. Funky styling
  2. On sale in 2014, revised in 2018
  3. Known for its ‘airbumps’ that protect against door dings
  4. Efficient engines on offer
  5. Average spaciousness for its class
  6. Limited trim choice
  7. Good level of standard kit
  8. Great used buy due to steep depreciation
  9. Set to be replaced by the new C4 and e-C4
  10. A refreshing alternative to a traditional hatch or crossover

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