Citroen C4 Cactus (2015) First Drive

03 C4 Cactus 72dpi

Citroen is on the comeback trail, much like its sister brand Peugeot. It has a new CEO at the helm and a clear idea of where it wants to place its brands and models. We’ve already seen a vastly improved offering in the form of Peugeot’s 308 and this new C4 Cactus seems to be following suit, having already won numerous awards overseas. We were at the local launch in Johannesburg to give it a quick whirl.

New Thinking

Citroen is renowned for doing things a little differently and the C4 Cactus proves to be another car that looks assertive and adds its own style and uniqueness to the compact crossover segment. Starting with the rather obvious exterior cladding, called Air Bumps, which eliminate those small scratches caused by everyday accidents like shopping trolley collisions, car door bashes and the odd stone chip. They also combine well with the unique exterior body of the Cactus that pulls off the rugged and boutique look impressively well. A whole C4 Cactus weighs less than 1 000kg thanks to a new super light but stronger chassis and Citroen has done other interesting things like mount the passenger airbag in the roof to make more space for things and people inside.


The interior doesn’t match the exterior for style and funkiness, but there are still some nice touches. The glovebox looks more like an expensive suitcase and opens with a briefcase-like latch. Inside the C4 Cactus there’s a mix-match of materials, some good, some not so. The good bits are the dashboard and infotainment system that is pulled from the new Peugeot 308. The not so good are things that are clad in hard, but durable black plastic, such as the door surrounds, gear and handbrake levers. It is well specced though and standard fare across the range includes LED daytime running lights, cruise control, 7-inch touchscreen multimedia system and a full size spare wheel.


Two engines will be available from launch and both are 1.2-Litre three-cylinder units. The entry spec engine is naturally aspirated and claims 60 kW and 118 Nm of torque, but wasn’t available to drive at the launch. We were able to give the turbocharged 81 kW, 205 Nm unit a fair drive at Jo’burg altitude.

Thanks to the C4 Cactus’ light weight, the 1.2 is a good fit and it feels quick and strong enough to cope with a pretty big car. Torque is sufficient to overtake well and to cruise around in 5th gear. I can’t tell you if it needs a 6th gear though as there’s no rev-counter in the Cactus. It didn’t sound stressed though and fuel economy is claimed at an impressive 4.7L/100km.

The Drive

The C4 Cactus is enjoyable to drive as the chassis feels tight and responsive, and the steering has decent weight to it. The suspension is compliant and it rides bumps quite nicely. The tyres may have been a little over-inflated though as our quick dirt road adventure seemed harsh and bumpy. Citroen hasn’t skimped on safety and the C4 Cactus is impressively equipped at its price point. Standard across the range are ABS with brake assist, stability control and airbags for the driver and passenger as well as front lateral and curtain airbags. The top spec model also gets hill assist for pulling off on inclines.

Citroen C4 Cactus Price in South Africa

The C4 Cactus comes in at a very impressive price and will compete with the likes of the Nissan Juke, Ford Ecosport, Kia Soul and the upcoming Renault Captur. The pricing includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a five-year/100 000 km service plan, as well as roadside assistance. There is an option to upgrade to the FreeDrive or five-year/100 000 km warranty extension. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.

Citroën C4 Cactus 1.2l PureTech 60 kW FEEL R224 900 Citroën C4 Cactus 1.2l PureTech Turbo e-THP 81 kW FEEL R259 900 Citroën C4 Cactus 1.2l PureTech Turbo e-THP 81 kW SHINE R284 900