Have you ever wondered what a car would look like if it was designed by a child? I reckon it would look a whole lot like this, the Citroen C4 Cactus and we've come to New Zealand to have a drive before it's launched in Australia before the end of this year.
Normally a concept car lives and dies at a motor show, but the C4 Cactus looks almost identical to the concept car that was released. Up front we have a split headlight design with an LED daytime running light cluster.
There's also colour coordinated panels, but the coolest feature is this right here. It's called the airbump and they are basically air filled pockets surrounded in rubber — so if you ever have somebody hit your car with a trolley in a car park, you never have to visit the panel repair shop to have it fixed. Up the top, we have cool looking roof rails and a large glass panoramic roof.
To save weight, Citroen has even removed a wind down function on the rear windows. Inside the cabin the design picks up even more.
It's surprising to see so much leg and head room back here. The seats are also extremely comfortable and feature design elements like air bumps built into the seat base. The seat backs don't have any split folding and there's also no rear air vents. All of this has been done in an effort to reduce weight — it weights under a tonne in some forms.
There is also a 358 litre boot in the back. This quirky car wouldn't be complete without a quirky interior. The steering wheel is perfect to hold and comes with all the buttons you need and there is also two screens. One for the speed you are doing and critical car information.The touch screen is for infotainment — it's easy to use and is the same screen as the Peugeot 308.
Gone is a conventional gear lever. Instead, there is this cluster down here where you just select the gear that you want — it seems to work very well. There are also paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel.
To increase storage space, Citroen has moved the passenger side airbag from the in-dash area to the roof. This gives you an 8.5 litre storage cavity with auxiliary and USB inputs in the place of where the passenger airbag would normally sit.
But, what's it like to drive?
Citroens are known for their excellent suspension and the Citroen C4 Cactus is no exception. We have been throwing it over some pretty nasty dirt roads and it has handled remarkably.
If you see me lurching strangely at times — I'm not sick. It's the gearbox in the car. It's really not great. This diesel engine comes with a six-speed robotised manual — what this means is that it does away with extra weight and a robot changes gears automatically for you.
The problem is unless you preempt gear changes, you get a shunt that pushes you forward. It becomes an issue if you need to pull out in traffic, for example. Or, if you're reversing on a hill.
Luckily, you can get this engine with the option of a five-speed manual.
Under the bonnet of this diesel C4 Cactus is a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces a small 63kW of power and 230Nm of torque. While that sounds like nothing, you have to consider that in some configurations this car weighs under 1000kg. That is remarkable when you consider the size of the car.
And the fuel use is just 3.6L/100km and that doesn't surprise me considering our fuel gauge has barely moved since we collected the car.
For those people that don't want a diesel, there's also a turbocharged petrol option. A 1.2-litr engine.
Visibility out the cabin is impressive. Forward vision is great and I can see clearly out the back. The wing mirrors could be a little bigger, but that's about as far as the complains go.
The reversing camera works well both at day and night and there are parking sensors too. While Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed, we are likely to get most of this gear.
The Citroen C4 Cactus is due in Australia later this year. If you're after a quirky car with a bit of character, definitely put this one on your shopping list.