I've had my Cactus for nearly a year now, it's just had its 15,000km service and I thought now is a good time to offer my longer-term thoughts on this controversial car. (You can read Nick's original owner review here)
My original review mentioned a few minor issues I won’t rehash but I will talk about the much-maligned transmission.
The transmission is part of a package that provides me fuel economy hovering around 4.2L per 100 kilometres and still offers quite a spirited drive, so it's hard to dislike it much. Around town it can forget what it's doing from time to time, but on the highway it is a dream. You adapt to it and it to you, and beyond the initial stages I’ve never had any problems.
I recently took it to Sydney via the Hume and back via the coast. Taking the freeways from Malvern in Melbourne, to Sydney's Kings Cross and I used just one $45 tank of diesel with about 80km of range to spare. I did all the driving, and let me tell you the seats really are wonderful. I opted for leather, which is certainly worth the extra money! Being a Citroen, its handling is strong, with tight and decisive steering feel and quite a decent ride quality.
One of my favourite things about the car is the glass roof, it creates such an open and airy feel, and being thermal glass, lets in no heat. My car is parked outside at home and work, and somehow the glass keeps it cooler than a metal roof, I assume it's magic. Along those lines, Citroen really knows how to make a good air con. It can be 40 degrees and the car fully loaded but that A/C will have you shivering in no time. This was also true of my DS3 DStyle.
For any other Cactus owners out there who have been frustrated by the laggy centre tablet, pop into your nearest dealer and they can upgrade the system under warranty. Had it done last week and it is much faster.
I have dealt with four Citroen dealers in Melbourne and Geelong over the years and two of them have been dreadful in terms of customer service. The other two fantastic. Sadly, Citroen's dealer network is not large, so if you get a bad one, it can be a hike to the next. Citroen provides six-year warranty and roadside assistance. A roofer’s nail punctured one of my tyres in its first month, so I can attest to the speed and quality of the roadside service!
The Cactus is not a luxury car, and for some it wouldn't be a practical car. What it is, is a concept car that made it into production. It is a concept. From ground up, it follows its concept, with lightweight build to keep fuel economy to the smell of any oil rag, to the "self-protecting" air bumps. It is a cactus turned into a car.
I love it, not everyone does, but in my experience the positivity outweighs any snide remarks. I've even had someone approach me wanting to take photos of it, and after chucking an illegal right turn had a police officer reach in to feel the dash after admiring it! He still gave me the ticket, though.