The 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus has been a polarising car in the Melbourne office. Whether it’s the crossover’s funky design, those trademark AirBumps, or the way it’s been specced, it’s received a lot of attention.
To get the low-down on the details of ‘Smurfette’, check out her introduction here.
For this update, we test the city-focused crossover over a 1500-kilometre road trip, consisting of highways and mountainous roads. Beginning from Chelsea, I drove the Victorian east coast towards Moruya Heads in NSW to my parent’s house, and then back again.
When I told my folks I was driving a Cactus, my Dad said, “in my day, Cactus meant stuffed!” Yeah, very funny, Dad.
Ten days worth of luggage fitted into the 358-litre boot with no problems. My phone was plugged into the solitary USB port, and I tried to fit my water bottle in the stupidly shallow cupholder, but it lasted one corner, so it sat on the passenger seat. A large drink bottle struggles to fit in the door pockets, too.
To avoid traffic on the eve of the Melbourne Cup weekend, I left at 10pm and decided to drive through the night. Although it was easy to enter the destination into the in-built satellite navigation, I gave up on it half-an-hour later after it took me through residential streets of Dandenong, as opposed to the freeway. Instead, my phone happily sat over the infotainment screen with Google Maps showing me the way.
Operating the climate control through the touchscreen is frustrating, especially over rough country roads, as a lot of the time you end up pressing the wrong button.
The front seats have plenty of padding, but are only good for short distances, underlining the Cactus’s city car focus. I found they don’t have enough lumbar support, and I needed a break every couple of hours as my back started to ache. However, they’re great for taking a nap as they are wide. Two rest breaks were had, and I was surprised I managed to get an hour’s sleep both times.
The rear pop-out windows were handy to stop the car from fogging up, and the panoramic sunroof was nice for staring at the stars once the seat was fully reclined.
The 1.2-litre turbo engine is quite pokey and did just fine cruising, however, it didn’t have the torque needed to overtake quickly on steep hills. And the six-speed automatic transmission was quite frustrating, as it would change down to fifth gear at 95km/h on a flat piece of road when slowing from 100km/h, and the changes aren’t all that smooth. Frustrating.
Cruise control was very good, even while traveling up- and downhill, and kept to the designated speed well. It does turn off, however, if the car goes four kilometres over, and will flash to alert you.
Fuel economy was 7.0L/100km (indicated), two litres more than the claimed 5.0L/100km. The 721km journey to Moruya Heads saw the 50L tank with 30km of fuel range remaining. In total, 1612km was traveled over the long weekend, at a cost of $163.51 using 95 RON unleaded. I was also asked by two service station attendants what car it was. It certainly got a bit of attention!
‘Smurfette’ provided a comfortable ride over all roads, was spacious, and was cheap to run. But it was let down by its infotainment, transmission, and cabin ergonomics. It is a car that’s definitely suited to where it’s more comfortable, and that’s the city.