I might have been a bit keen on the Cactus from the first time I heard about it. Having been out in Europe for a while before arriving here, I was all set to buy one! I ordered it in the launch week back in September 2015 with a Feb 16 delivery.
I don’t drive manual and I was keen on the pros of the auto: diesel, push-button transmission, aircraft style handbrake, bench seat and centre armrest. I also optioned the tan leather, black alloys and glass roof.
I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea design wise, but I find it incredibly beautiful inside and out. When I showed a friend a picture after I ordered it she laughed, but even she, a committed Audi fan, warmed up to it after I got it. On the inside, the dash is just so freaking cool! I love the detail, the high quality finishes and the soft leather. The seats are the most comfortable I’ve come across in a car. The digital screen with the speedo etc is great and clear. The steering wheel is comfortable and functional. The centre “tablet” that controls almost all the cars functions from the radio to the A/C could be better. It is clear, the menus reasonably straight forward but it requires a firm touch and its response time can be a little slow, particularly when turning the car on. about a third of the time it can take 5-10 seconds to kick in properly. The reversing camera is clear and very handy, as are the parking sensors. Aside from this, it has digital radio and quite good speakers.
Much has been written about the robotised manual gearbox and frankly I had very low expectations about this part of the car. Having said that, both the driver and the transmission learn to work together very quickly and from then on lurchy or sharp gearshifts are almost non-existent. Certainly the higher gear changes are smooth and quick. Overtaking on freeways is a breeze. This car can really move. This is not to say the transmission is perfect, it is merely fine. Sometimes it does forget what it’s doing. Enter the paddle shifters, which can make life much easier. It’s quite fun to drive though, the transmission being a little raw gives a bit of an edge to how it drives. Handling is top notch, ride isn’t “Citroen soft” but for a small SUV it’s pretty good, as good or better than most in the class.
It’s equipped with stop/start technology that is the best I’ve come across. It’s intuitive, with the turn ons both smooth and quiet. If the weather is hot and the AC on, it won’t turn off so as to get the cabin cool, same goes when it is cold out, the heater on but the engine not yet heated up.
Fuel economy is insanely low. I drive every day in the heaviest of Melbourne’s peak hour traffic and my economy is averaging about 4.7l. Get it on the highway and it drops to 3-3.5l – I recently took a road trip to the country; About 700km return, it cost about $30 in diesel.
This is not meant to be a high end car and does miss some of the latest safety gear, but features all the basics and a few more. The front airbags are in the roof which means the glove box is huge. It’s a French car so it has but one cupholder. It’s reasonably sized and huge step up from the useless one my DS3 had, but still not great. Cabin storage, otherwise is ample and the boot is huge. The running lights are cool, and the headlights strong. It has cornering fog lights also.
Two odd things that annoy me are that the electric windows don’t have auto up or down and the passenger sun visor has no mirror. Small inconveniences but odd none the less. The rear windows pop out, rather than wind down. About this, I couldn’t care less. It’s all to save weight, which considering the fuel economy, seems a worthy trade off to me!
I think French cars have, in the last decade, really upped their game when it comes to design and build quality. And Citroen Australia (the longest continuously sold brand in Australia for all you haters) backs this with a 6 year warranty, 6 year roadside assist and capped price servicing. Having had a roofers nail rip open one of my tyres a few weeks ago, I can attest to the quality and usefulness of both the roadside assist and the tyre pressure warning system.
This car turns heads, draws questions, smiles and the odd gape but I truly love it. It fits my personality, my style, and my lifestyle.