Citroën Cactus: Auto Reverse and Graphic Equaliser, technology gone mad!

There comes a time in your life when technology catches up with the science fiction movies of your past. For MotorMartin it was the moment when the digital photography software on the HTC Magic (look it up) allowed the user to zoom in and out of an picture by opening or closing your fingers on the image itself. This action took me back to watching Bladerunner http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0083658/ and a particular scene where Deckard investigates the clues left by Leon—photographs and a “fish-scale”—which leads him to Salome at Taffey’s Snake Pit Bar. Deckard spends a few moments manipulating a particular photograph during his search which allows him to close in on his prey. Great movie!

Back To The Future famously took the Doc and Marty Mcfly forward to the 21st October 2015 where they found Hoverboards, self tying shoes and cars that fly. Now one day we may arrive at the point in time where cars can fly and we’ll remember the movie but until then it’s best to stick with what we’ve got in the here and now rather than what we might yet get at some magical time in the future.

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Looking back I suppose it’s fair to say that the Auto Reverse function on a Walkman was not the pinacle of technology that we all thought it was, even if the Walkman in question also sported a four band graphic equaliser and Dolby NR. It was now possible to listen to both sides of a cassette without the tedious and difficult job of ejecting, turning over, reinserting and pressing play again whilst also changing how the artist sounded. Truly amazing!

And here we are, 30ish years later and there’s not a C45 or C90 to be found, only the C4 Cactus that I’ve just climbed into. MotorMartin has already spent time admiring the strange and unusual styling that Citroën have boldly chosen to adorn the Cactus with in part 1 at https://motormartin.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/citroen-cactus-prickly-when-wet/ and so here I am today concentrating on the interior and technology present essentially asking the question: Does it all work in ‘real life’ motoring?

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Whatever it was that Citroën filled their tea urn with at the design stage of the C4 Cactus must have been seriously strong as Citroën have continued with the bold and adventurous styling and technology choices inside as well as out. Doors opening and closing with a sense of solidity, think Focus rather than Mercedes, give a certain amount of confidence that the substandard interiors of Citroën’s past have been well and truly banished. First impressions upon sitting in the C4 are quite unique for a car at this price point, immediately your eyes are drawn to the large 7″ touchscreen seemingly floating against the centre of the dashboard with a line of soft touch buttons underneath before clocking the smaller rectangular screen where you would normally have a traditional speedo and rev counter. Looking around the cabin is a delight, there are well thought out touches seemingly wherever you look. The doorhandles, for example, are fabric straps, the steering wheel has a flat base harking back to Citroëns of a bygone age, the glove compartment has soft rubber like circles on the lid which grip whatever is left on top of it, whilst the glove compartment even opens upwards in a seemingly deliberate attempt to be different. Perhaps the most striking feature for MotorMartin, aside from the two impressive screens, was the air vents underneath the centre screen. I really liked how the vents are both different lengths and angled slightly away from each other to allow a more even spread of air around the cabin, it’s small design features like this that show the level of care and attention given to this spiky vehicle.
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For the individuals amongst us, the range of customisation available for the interior is certainly impressive. As previously stated, there are three basic trim levels called Touch, Feel and Flair with Flair being the most exotic, yet even the Touch has cruise control, LED Daytime Running Lights, front electric windows and the 7″ Touch Drive Interface amongst other things. The Feel that MotorMartin drove differed by including 16″ Alloys, air conditioning, leather steering wheel and most importantly, Bluetooth® handsfree and media streaming. In a car costing £16690! The main differences between the Feel and Flair can probably be summed up with 17″ Alloys and the Auto Pack, City Camera Pack and Navigation Pack being included as standard.
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With MotorMartin still remembering the feeling of excitement that you got from a top loading VHS Recorder, let alone when the remote control came out a year later on a wire that needed plugging in, the addition of the 7″ Touch Drive Interface with Bluetooth® media streaming in the C4 is certainly a halo feature for such a well priced family car and one that deserves to attract new customers to the mark. The Touch Drive is intuitive and simple to use with the main function icons on each side of the screen only needing a light touch of the screen to operate. You control all of the cars main settings from here, air conditioning, temperature, DAB radio and Bluetooth® music streaming from a phone or MP3 player, handsfree telephone, driving statistics and so on. The screen is large, clear and bright with excellent viewing angles yet doesn’t seem to dominate the cabin whilst still allowing you (OK, just me) to indulge in your science fiction fantasies whilst driving. Combined with the rectangular screen housing the digital speedo and cruise control then you have a very futuristic feeling to the Cactus. It was extremely easy to connect my Android phone to the Citroën and within seconds my phone book and music was readily available on the central Touchscreen and I imagine those with more fruit based leanings for their phones and tablet technology will be able to sync with the car just as simply. Phones can be charged through the 12v socket or USB point, both situated under the central air vents and then left on a handily placed small shelf. Another example of clear and simple thinking.

As you can probably guess, this car ticks many boxes for MotorMartin when it comes to the interior styling and technology present. The seats are comfortable and supportive over long distance, there is plenty of room on the rear bench seat for children or adults whilst the boot space, at 358 litres, is pretty standard for this sector of car. Yet despite all of the obvious plus points there is one major let down for me and that is the lack of CD player. I realise that for some, the youthful amongst us, this will not cause them to suffer a lack of sleep but for those that like actual physical music rather than digital then they may struggle to bond with the C4. My other gripe is the hard, slightly shiny, plastic used on the central dashboard column reaching down and surrounding the gearstick. It just looks and feels cheap and is completely at odds with the rest of the car. Sort it out Citroën when it comes to giving this car a facelift in a couple of years.

And so, the big question: have we reached a point in time with the Cactus where we have arrived at a future predicted in a science fiction movie? Have we had a Bladerunner moment? I’ll leave that for you decide for the moment but until then keep checking back for the third and final Citroën C4 Cactus review where we finally and probably most importantly, find out what it’s like to drive.

Where will you go?

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