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Citroen C4 Cactus - Long Term Test - FIRST REPORT

FRENCH FLAIR (some text hidden)

"The Progressive Hydraulic Cushion' suspension really does make a difference on the appalling tarmac that characterises the roads in my vicinity..."

I've always liked Citroens - older ones anyway. They tended to look and drive distinctively, qualities that were lost in the Nineties and Noughties as the brand moved closer to its Peugeot PSA Group partner brand. But distinctive Citroens are back. I know, because I've been living with the second generation version of the company's C4 Cactus. In a market full of family hatchbacks determined to become SUVs, it's rather refreshing to find a product with the opposite perspective. Citroen's C4 Cactus started out in 2014 as the brand's offering to buyers in search of a compact crossover. Now, as my family and I have been finding, it's re-invented itself as a more conventional family hatchback, but one with a rather unique perspective on life. If you're at all familiar with the way the Citroen model line-up has developed in recent times, the reason for this change of product emphasis becomes fairly clear. By the time of this evolved C4 Cactus model's introduction in early 2018, the brand had launched two compact SUVs, the C3 Aircross and the C5 Aircross, so no longer really needed this Cactus to appeal to the crossover crowd. What it did need was something that would represent the company in the mainstream Focus, Astra and Golf-dominated family hatch 'C'-sector. This territory ought to be covered by Citroen's conventional C4 hatch model, but the rather dull second generation version of that car was phased out in late 2017 due to slow sales. Until the brand chooses to replace that contender, it must rely on this rejuvenated C4 Cactus to take on heavyweight volume rivals in this crucially important market segment. To be able to do that, the cheerful, quirky demeanour that marked out the original Cactus model needed to mature a little. The huge side-mounted 'Airbump' panels that characterised that earlier design represented a fun touch for crossover buyers but risked looking merely silly on a product repositioned to appeal to more conventional folk. To please these people, this Citroen needed to offer a core attribute with a little more substance - and does. 'Comfort', the advertising around this car proclaims, 'is the new cool'.

Perhaps. It's certainly a virtue that used to characterise this Gallic brand in the days of legendary models like the Traction Avant, the 2CV and the DS. In more recent times when Citroens became little more than re-badged Peugeots, that selling point was sacrificed, but the company's resurrecting it now with its so-called 'Advanced Comfort' programme. In the C4 Cactus, this delivers super-supportive 'Advanced Comfort' seats that I've decided I really like. And a clever new suspension system using what the marque calls 'Progressive Hydraulic Cushions'. This really does make a difference on the appalling tarmac that characterises the roads in my vicinity. There's also a smarter, more spacious-feeling cabin, extensive personalisation opportunities, much improved safety provision and the option of an extra more powerful PureTech 130 petrol engine at the top of the range. It all sounded promising enough for me to want to add a C4 Cactus to our long term test fleet. And over the next few months, I'll be telling you how I've got on with it. Cue the joie de vivre..

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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