Citroën state that their C4 Cactus represents The Crossover Redefined, whilst MotorMartin waxed lyrically about the Citroën’s Avant-garde style in Citroën C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 110: Away Bounce My Bubbles recently. The question that comes to mind therefore is surely, what the dickens are Citroën talking about? After all, the styling is incredible but come on, Redefine The Crossover?
Sitting amongst the traffic on a busy, but rainy day in the North Yorkshire coastal town of Scarborough, allowed MotorMartin the chance to reflect upon the Cactus and its performance over the day so far. The 160 odd mile round trip from Bradford, West Yorkshire to the coast and back again, includes a wide range of roads and road types varying from the tight and twisty to the monotony of dual carriageways. The return trip however, if undertaken with a slight detour further up the coast towards Whitby, allows for a thrilling drive home across the majestic North Yorkshire Moors. A route to equal any of the great drives across these green and pleasant lands that we all call home and certainly one of MotorMartin’s favourites. So we have possibly the perfect test route and test day with which to see if Citroën’s claim is to substantiated.
MotorMartin doesn’t really need to go back over the glorious look of the C4 Cactus any further today as it’s the driving experience, technology and, perhaps more importantly, feel that is to focussed on here. What then is a Crossover and how should we expect one to drive? Is it to be like a saloon, a hatchback, a 4 x 4, a van?
Sitting in the seats of the C4 you are immediately reminded of Citroën’s glorious past, I love the truly retro use of straps for door handles and the repetition of the Airbump® pattern on the inner door cards, you’re left in no doubt that Citroën have retained the clear sense of fun and practicality that could be said to define many of their interiors. The difference here though, is with the addition of completely up to date touch screen and digital technology. According to Citroën, the C4 Cactus is: Bright, airy and spacious, the interior of the Citroën C4 Cactus welcomes you with a spot-on driving position and minimal, fuss-free dashboard. Instead of a multitude of buttons you’ll find a clear, simple digital display that lets you control air-conditioning, music, sat nav and phone and in MotorMartin’s opinion, they’ve got it just about spot on.
This is a beautiful, no frills approach to interior design that does away with anything and everything deemed surplus to requirements. Yet the two screens suggest a technologically beating heart underneath this stark, but not unattractive, set up. The central 7″ full colour touch screen will be familiar to those of us that have experience of either Peugeot or DS recently and is certainly none the worse for that. It works, is good looking with customisable choices, intuitive and most importantly, is easy to use on the move. Once you’ve spent a few minutes adding your own preferences to the DAB radio station list, set the climate control so that the temperature’s just right, adjusted the (manual) seats, you’re pretty much ready to go.
Situated straight in your eyeline is the second, smaller screen that houses the digital speedometer, cruise control information and the more usual round of warnings lights, all of which work exactly as expected. So where are we then with our central talking point, namely that Citroën have Redefined The Crossover. MotorMartin’s not quite ready to answer that question just yet, especially as this particular Cactus has got the North Yorkshire Moors to deal with first and I can’t wait.
The reason for such excitement is twofold. The first is that the driving position is a little higher than you realistically expect as, to be honest, from the outside and if you ignore the styling, the Cactus looks fairly similar in length and height to the average Focus, Astra or Golf size competitor. The second reason is the PureTech 110, 1.2l three cylinder, direct injection with intercooled, petrol engine of the test car, arriving as it did at MotorMartin Towers, with its full compliment of 111bhp at 5500rpm. And yet despite the extremely quick revving engine under its bright red bonnet, the C4 is still able to return up to 65mpg if care is taken with the right foot. Impressive indeed.
What MotorMartin likes about the Cactus is its responsiveness. Heading out of Bradford on Leeds Road, the Citroën copes perfectly well with the traffic that is the norm around here and with a sweet, five speed gearbox that clicks into place alongside the best, you find yourself longing for the open road where you can see if the Cactus really can stretch its legs. Fortunately it doesn’t take too long to leave the clogged up industrial Streets of West Yorkshire behind and test out the responsiveness of that PureTech engine on the wonderfully twisting A659, Otley Road.
The flat bottomed steering wheel of the C4 is perfectly positioned to allow you to switch left and right with ease, whilst that surprisingly raised seating position mentioned earlier, means that you get that crucial extra few metres of vision that means you can take full advantage of the road ahead. Combine that with the revvy and responsive engine and suspension that does a decent enough job of isolating the passengers from the worst that our wonderful roads can offer and what you have is a rather fun place to be. Daft or sensible in equal measures. You decide. The fact that the wife and children have plenty of room as well, and storage, and a light airy cabin to relax in, especially with what Citroën say is a, sweeping panoramic sunroof that fills the interior with natural sunlight whilst providing UV protection and a proper size boot and MotorMartin is finally beginning to understand what this Crossover Redefined might actually mean out here in ‘real life’ motoring.
And it’s whilst returning home along the wide open spaces of the North Yorkshire Moors, that it finally hits home what Citroën have achieved here with their Avant-garde Cactus and in MotorMartin’s opinion it can be condensed down to the following.
By taking the best bits of a SUV and mixing them with with everything that keeps hatchbacks at the top of the UK sales charts, Citroën have created a crossover unlike any other. It really appears then that this is the first in a new breed of car. That of The Crossover Redefined.
Where will you go?