“At this stage we’re looking at Q4,” Startari said.
“It’s definitely confirmed for Australia, so we’re quite excited about that product. It is truly different and I think it’s core to the Citroen philosophy.”
The Cactus will become one of the smallest SUVs on the market when it arrives, measuring 4.16m from nose to tail and weighing just 965kg – roughly 200kg less than the C4 hatchback. Though it belongs to the C4 family, the Cactus is actually based on the PF1 platform of the smaller C3 and DS3 models.
As with Japanese rival the Nissan Juke, the Citroen C4 Cactus stands out from the crowd with funky styling, and uniquely features rubber-coated pockets of air called ‘Airbumps’ on the front and rear bumpers and door panels to protect it from small bumps and scratches.
Available engines include 55kW, 60kW and 82kW versions of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, and a 67kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel, while five- and six-speed manual and six-speed automated manual transmissions send power to the front wheels.
The minimalist cabin features a push-button gear selector for the self-shifting gearbox, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment functions, a slim digital screen in place of a regular instrument cluster, and a passenger airbag that deploys from the ceiling rather than the dashboard.
Startari said it was too early to talk pricing at this stage, though it’s obvious the C4 Cactus will need to be competitive with the likes of the Juke, Mazda CX-3, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur – all of which start in the low-$20,000s – to stand a chance in the highly competitive market.
“Consumer clinics need to be finalised and then the product specifications are built off the back of that, and then obviously the output of that is pricing negotiations, so we’re way too early at this stage to be speaking about price and spec.”
The local boss said the C4 Cactus was not a replacement for the unloved C4 Aircross, which was discontinued locally in the second half of last year.
“Cactus is not a replacement for Aircross, it doesn’t profess to it. If you look at the product and what it offers it is truly something that is different, and I think it will generate a lot of positive PR because it is so different.
“It’s not just another SUV and it is core. Once thing that we’re able to claim now is that all of our vehicles are built in Europe as well which is a unique position that we have.
“[When] we took over distribution more than two years ago … [C4 Aircross] was earmarked to be deleted from the range purely because it wasn’t core to our car buyer in Australia and we found ourselves compromising what it was all about – it wasn’t core to our product statement of ‘Creative Technologie’.”
Citroen Australia product manager Glen Reid said it was important for the French brand to have an SUV in its local showrooms.
“We definitely want Cactus,” Reid said. “I think it’s definitely what are customers are looking for.”
CarAdvice got a look at the Citroen Cactus late last year, watch our video walkaround.