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Cactus makes a point of offering something a little bit different.

IN the past Citroen dared to be different and brought us quirky, individualistic cars like the DS, 2CV, the SM, the CX and the BX. Even in later years, Citroen showed that it could do things in its own way with interesting stuff like the Xantia Activa, the C6 and the C4. In recent years Citroen became a little more mainstream, but now, once again, the brand is offering something that differs from the norm and that's very good news.

Step forward the C4 Cactus - and its timing couldn't be better. Just when crossover vehicles had become so popular that they had moved from the edgy alternative to a family hatch to become the most conventional and, possibly, the most boring suburban choice imaginable, Citroen has shaken things up. Many are going to find the C4 Cactus to their liking.

The Citroen C4 Cactus looks unlike any other vehicle on the road thanks to its Airbump side cladding and a whole host of other bold details. It's based on the platform of the DS3 which is certainly good news and, as a comfortable family crossover, it has much to commend it.

The body marries smooth curves with bold, planer surfaces, indented with slick details like the Airbumps, the slot-like daytime running lights and the arc-like roof rails. There's a lot to take in.

The refreshingly different but attractive cabin has had a lot of design effort poured into it.

Everything feels soft and relaxing, with squidgy seats and a simplified dash that features a touch screen to house most of the minor controls.

In an industry first, the passenger airbag is housed in the roof, freeing up the dash area to feel lighter and airier.

The front seat is bench-like but only seats two and cost and weight has been taken out of the rear with the simple, non-split rear seat and the basic front-hinged rear windows.

The C4 Cactus is offered with six efficient powertrains, four petrol - PureTech 75, PureTech 82, PureTech 82 S&S & PureTech 110 S&S - and two HDi diesels - e-HDi 92 & BLUEHDI 100. Engines are mated to either five-speed manual or five or sixspeed ETG (Efficient Tronic Gearbox) transmissions.

All diesel models are sub-100g/km of CO2 and are eligible for free VED. There is even a VED-exempt petrol version - the PureTech 82 S&S ETG - which emits just 98g/km.

Despite the car's adventurous styling, there's some real common sense going on here. Economise on the oily bits and go nuts with the shiny bits seems to have been the mantra with this one, so it probably won't surprise you to learn that the C4 Cactus doesn't break any new ground as a driver's car.

That's not to say that Citroen hasn't applied its design genius to improving this car's responses. It's extremely light. The three-cylinder petrol model weighs in at just 1,020kg, which is around 200kg less than an equivalent C4, which helps it get the most out of its modest engines.

Even the most powerful version gets a mere 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol powerplant - and it's a cracker that really loves a few revs.

Those Airbumps look for all the world like a pair of puncture repairs on the side of the C4 Cactus. They're thermoplastic polyurethane mouldings that have air capsules inside to help absorb car park bumps and nudges.

They also look pretty cool, as indeed does the rest of the C4 Cactus. We've become slowly accustomed to this design language with the C4 Picasso, but the Cactus takes things a stage further.

Drawing its inspiration from the C-Cactus show car, a vehicle that Citroen's top brass once deemed too extreme, the party line seems to have softened since then even if the styling hasn't.

But then that design study car first appeared on show stands seven years ago. Tastes have changed in the interim.

Cactus range prices start at around PS13,000 stretching to around PS18,500 for all the bells and whistles. All models get a digital Touch Drive interface controlling things like automatic air conditioning, a DAB radio, sat nav, a reverse parking camera, Park Assist, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity.

There's scope for customisation, with a broad range of colours and the Airbumps can be specified in four different colours too.

The C4 Cactus looks great, it's easy to drive and it's hard to argue with something that puts a smile on your face yet can return fuel consumption figures in the nineties.

Anything that makes frugality a little more fun is to be welcomed and there's definitely a place for the C4 Cactus in a congested automotive market.

If you're on the lookout for something a bit different but practical to use daily, the C4 Cactus answers the call. Don't underestimate the amount of work Citroen has put into making the Cactus such a simple pleasure.

| See the new Citroen C4 Cactus at |Thomas & Davies Ltd on Pentrebach Road, Merthyr Tydfil CF48 1YB. Why not call their friendly sales team on 01685 722773 to arrange your test drive today and look forward to a warm welcome? FACTS AT A GLANCE CitroeEN C4 Cactus PRICES: PS12,990-PS18,290 INSURANCE GROUPS: 9E - 18A CO2 EMISSIONS: [100PS BLUEHDI] 82g/km PERFORMANCE: [100PS BLUEHDI] 0-62mph 10.7s / top speed 114mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: [100PS BLUEHDI] (combined) 83.8mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: stability control, EBD, EBA, ABS, six airbags WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE? length/width/height 4157/1729/1480 mm WHO TO SEE: Thomas & Davies Ltd, Pentrebach Road, Merthyr Tydfil CF48 1YB. Call 01685 722773

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A lot of design effort has been put into the cabin

The Citroen C4 Cactus doesn't look like any other car on the road
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 28, 2015
Words:953
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