WHEN it comes to doing things differently, no one does it better than Citroen.

Famed for its radical approach to suspension and style for its cars, it has never been afraid to push the boundaries.

And when its C4 Cactus compact hatchback first broke cover, we all took a step back as we were introduced to the Airbump protective cladding that filled the sides.

But Citroen has decided that for the new version that cladding should be reduced to cover only the lower parts of the doors. It’s a modest addition to the car’s look now, rather than being the dominant feature.

What is also new is a suspension system with what the company calls Progressive Hydraulic Cushions that create a so-called ‘magic carpet ride’ effect.

Not only that, the C4 Cactus is also the first vehicle in the world to boast what it calls Advanced Comfort seats.

Comfort above all else seems to be the focus for this 2018 model.

But also on offer are 12 driver assistance systems, three connectivity technologies and a revised engine line-up, with power units now developing up to 130hp.

Citroën’s signature two-tier front end is of course still there, and there’s a 3D-effect LED light signature at the rear.

And recognising the demand to personalise, there are nine body colours, five alloy wheel designs and four colour packs plus five interior ambiances to choose from.

The C4 Cactus’s raison d’etre is to combine its personality with the comfort and spaciousness of the regular C4 hatchback.

Sitting somewhere between a hatchback and SUV, it has a robust stance, compact dimensions and a versatility that enables it to suit suburban areas and open road driving.

Constructed of one-third glass and two-thirds bodywork, it is topped by a floating roof supported by gloss black pillars set around the car and both wheel-arch and sill protection, together with new slimmer Airbump panels on the lower parts of the doors. This combines to make the new model the most resistant to minor damage in the compact hatchback segment.

The warm and welcoming cabin – designed like a cocoon – offers soft materials and relaxing colours, and is flooded with plenty of natural light for a modern, elegant and laid-back ambience.

The dashboard houses a central console and a digital instrument panel that displays all essential driving information grouped around a seven-inch touchscreen. Sitting behind the wheel, the cabin feels both modern and uncluttered.

Nice touches include a ‘top box’ glove box and straps that serve as door handles.

Another feature worthy of mention is the panoramic sunroof, which not only creates a feeling of space but is designed to let the light in, whilst guarding against glare. In fact, it blocks out heat and UV rays to the same degree as a good pair of sunglasses.

But let’s get back to that suspension system. TheC4 Cactus is the first Citroen model in Europe to be equipped with progressive hydraulic cushions, a Citroën innovation that will be rolled out on future models. Citroën's expertise in the field of suspension is undisputed. For 98 years, suspension comfort has been embedded in the brand's genes.

Some 20 patents were filed in the development of the new suspension system. The way it works is quite simple. While conventional suspension systems use a shock absorber, a spring and mechanical bump stops at each corner of the car, the PHC system adds two hydraulic stops on each suspension unit to replace the mechanical stops. There is one hydraulic stop for compression and one for decompression. The suspension therefore works in two stages to match how the car is being used.

For even more comfort, the front seats in New C4 Cactus feature new high-density foam that improves seating comfort even after long hours at the wheel, or as the seats age over time.

The driver assistance systems include active safety brake to reduces the risk of a collision by braking in place of the driver, speed limit recognition and recommendation, blind spot monitoring, park assist, keyless entry and start, a reversing camera and hill start assist

The driver can enjoy the multimedia content and apps on their smartphone by replicating and controlling them via the touchscreen, while the navigation system system boasts voice recognition for controlling navigation, phone and media functions without the driver having to take their eyes off the road.

Having chosen from the various personalisation options, there’s still the question of which engine to opt for. I suspect that most will choose a petrol offering.

The highest-performance version is the turbocharged PureTech 130 S&S mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The PureTech 110, also turbocharged, is available with a five-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic gearbox. The entry-level model is powered by the PureTech 82 with a manual gearbox. Diesel options are the BlueHDi 100 and 120.

The 110 tested here is probably the pick of the bunch, although none of these engines will disappoint.


Citroen C4 Cactus Flair

Price: £19,990 (C4 Cactus range from £16,575)

Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol, producing 110hp

Transmission: Five-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 9.4 seconds; top speed 117mph

Economy: 62.8mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 104g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****