As part of Citroen’s centenary, a few ‘origins edition’ specials are being offered. The changes are all cosmetic but they are a limited release, with 15 of the C4 Cactus models available for NZ.
These feature a few bronze-hued graphical highlights on the exterior, while the Heather Grey upholstery inside gains gold top-stitching. There are various Origins badges about, and they have thrown in some branded floor mats too.
We’re not sure if black is the best colour for the Cactus as it disguises the interesting details of the front end while rendering those air bumps along the flanks almost invisible. The unique design of the Cactus deserves a more outrageous colour, but the Origins edition is only available in two shades of grey, a choice of whites and a black. At $35,990, there is no premium charged over the regular model however.
At that price, the C4 Cactus is an alternative choice for people who simply don’t want a generic hatch; it’s for those that like something a bit different, because it certainly is. A character trait that Citroen likes to talk up is one of comfort, and the Cactus, despite its prickly name, does a good job of providing calm commuting. The seats help, being wide and free of any restrictive bolstering, while they’ve been generous with the foam for the squab. It results in a particularly sumptuous lounger as such.
Though the Cactus is made more for city commuting, it does fine on the highway, the ride calm and road noise acceptable. The 1.2-litre turbopetrol rustles up plenty of low-end torque to make it a breezy operator in the city, but you do need to extend the throttle fully for the overtake. It is easy on gas however, a road trip down country helping ease the overall consumption to just over 6L/100km.
Back in the big smoke, Cactus has very easy steering and a good turning circle. The powertrain works well too with the torque flowing easily and the six-speed auto shuffling through its ratios effectively without having to resort to the Sport mode (which really amps things along). We could do with a less enthusiastic stop/start system however, and the brakes are really quite snatchy, making for an abrupt halt.
Citroen’s comfort suspension sees the dampers adopt a tricky valving and tube arrangement with the aim of soaking up the worst of the road surfaces for a more cossetting ride. And they do their thing well, while helping to flatten speed bumps, although the torsion beam rear end can stumble over the odd mid-corner bump.
For size this a step up from a small car, though it’s not quite as roomy as some compact hatches when it comes to back seat space but it has a good boot. Up front the layout is simplified by having all the controls within the touchscreen so like your smartphone, you need to tap it a few times in order to get where you want to be. While there are a lot of hard surfaces, this is well built for a French car.
If the Cactus isn’t quite a fit, but you like the sense of flair, there’s always the C3 Aircross, which also has an Origins Edition, and is $1000 cheaper as well.