back to article Citroën C4 Cactus BlueHDi: A funky urban crossover

Concept cars are great. I love them. As bold, inventive declarations of intent by car makers they are gorgeous to look at. Of course, the vast majority of concepts are for just that. Looking at. Build the thing and you run the risk of the styling writing cheques the engineering can’t cash. cactus_trafford_road C4 Cactus has …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    It's nice to see...

    ... a car that doesn't have bumpers matched to the body colour. The vast majority of cars on the UK roads do, and it is a silly idea - since the idea of a bumper is to shrug-off small knocks, bumpers that are easy to damage cosmetically are just daft.

    I think the UK's Consumer Association looked into the issue a few back, and found far too many cars had bumpers that were damaged at collisions of less than 5 Mph, and that said bumpers often cost in excess of £300 to replace.

    The cost is born not just by the person who chooses a car with unfit-for-purpose components, but by all motorists through their insurance premiums.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: It's nice to see...

      The French are great believers in contact parking so it makes sense that their car manufacturers make cars with black bumpers.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: It's nice to see...

        I've heard that said by some French people - "We don't look for parking spaces - we make them".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's nice to see...

      Whilst parking slowly to squeeze my car up into one of the bays my number plate screw came in contact with the car parked in front's painted bumper.

      A small nick in the paint resulted in a £300 insurance claim against me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's nice to see...

        @Small nick £300 guy: Park better.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's nice to see...

      Modern bumpers are designed to disintegrate.

      Blame those pedestrians not wanting to be injured by low speed impact.

      Same reason formula 1 cars spinter into a billion pieces when they crash.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's nice to see...

        Answer to contact parking is to put a bit of protective material around you bumpers. I've found the anti-slip stuff they use on stairs to be ideal.

  2. Mike Echo


    I hope they don't plan on releasing this model in Oz, as Vulture South readers will be well aware that cactus means "beyond repair" (ie f----d) down here.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Cactus?

      Not such a daft name as I thought it was then. It is a Citroen and they are rather famous for keeping the AA, RAC and Green Flag in business.

      1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

        Re: Cactus?

        As someone who has owned 3 xantias; a Xsara Picasso; Picasso C4; C5 and C5 X7 - most drven way beyond 150,000miles can I say the ONLY time I have used the RAC/AA/Green Flag was when my camshaft sprocket failed at over 70mph in the offside lane on the M6 [caused by an incompetant fool using the wrong bolt type when the cam belt was replaced]. The Xantia had the grace to give powered steering and braking to reach the hard shoulder easily - due to the hydrpneumatic suspension/braking/PAS.

        Citroen have unjustifiably got a bad name in my experience and proved far more reliable and cheaper than a VW Golf I owned.

        If you talk to French, they regard Citroen/Peugeot as good reliable cars - unlike Renault. For a country with no national breakdown assistance companies - there are an *awful* lot of Citroen/Peufgeot on the road

        1. Van

          Re: Cactus?

          Of the Renaults and Peugeots I've serviced as a competent DIY mechanic, I give Renault the nod above Peugeot. Leaky gearbox oil seals and ball joint wear were common on both, but the Peugeot ball joints went at much earlier mileage.

          Mechanics at garages both cars had previously been to had been negligent in several areas. There is talk of banning us from doing repair work on our own cars which is farcical until garage standards are raised.

        2. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Cactus?

          Citroën got a lot of bad rep in the 70s, not because of bad build quality, but because of bad mechanics!

          "Dunno what's so special 'bout this LHM oil. Just use regular engine oil!"

          (It's OK for an emergency, but will quickly destroy the seals in the hydraulics, and will require a complete and expensivee flush as soon as possible.)

          That's not counting those who topped it up with anti-freeze(on the GS that was doubly moronic as it was air-cooled), servo-steering fluid or just plainly ignored for a decade or so...

          Then there were the newfangled alloys used in the cylinder walls and tops...

          How many 'mechanics' destroyed the heads on the flat-four on a GS when they 'tightened up the exhaust manifolds so that it held' instead of to the specified torque settings?

          One mechanic actually 'tested' the suspension of my GS by pushing down on the rear, then stating that my shocks needed to be replaced...

          I started the engine and told him to try again...

          How many garages had the equipment to properly test the 'shocks' anyway?

          One, who claimed to be a Citrën expert (not authorized, though) wasn't aware that the airfilter in the GS was of a 'wet' variety, and usually only needed to be washed in petrol.

          And I have similar tales for the CX and BX, too...

          On my Berlingo I do everything myself!

          1. Trygve Henriksen

            Re: Cactus?

            I really wish whoever downvoted me would post his issues with my post...

            Also, all the problems I mentioned I have seen in real-life, just so that is clear.

        3. hammarbtyp

          Re: Cactus?

          I had a ZX and a Xsara. I had a total electrical failure in the ZX due to the brilliant design decision to route the engine electrical connector through the top of the bonnet where loose leaves could cause a blockage, causing water to accumulate and submerge the connector in water for a considerable period of time, so rotting the seals.

          In the Xsara, it seemed to eat radiators. I went through 3 and then the internal heating sprung a leak meaning I had to drive in a fog(virtually impossible to get to, to fix). Similarly the ZX manifold sprung a leak meaning eventually the aluminum engine had to re-skinned(partly my fault, should of taken it to the garage when I noticed the water level continually getting low)

          I now drive a Skoda (imagine admitting to that 15 years ago),and the difference is chalk and cheese. Far more reliable, but the important thing it feels solid, compared to the Citroens which feel like things will come off like some clown car if the hit a bump.

          Citroens were always quirky, so you would forgive their foibles. But when they tried to go mainstream, it was harder to forgive their faults, especially when there were better alternatives.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge


    If you are driving in a city there are more compact alternatives with better internal organization, use of space and better power trains.

    If you are driving it outside a city those funky road panels are going to produce both drag and noise. No thanks. If I need something for motorway use I will chose something with better comfort, streamlining and not as gutless as this.

    If you have the rather insane idea of taking it into real crossover territory and use it for "mild" offroad in the domain of the now unfortunately no longer manufactured Daihatsu Sirion 4WD, the (unfortunately unavailable in the UK) Suzuki Swift 4x4, Old (real) Subaru Forester or even the good old Panda 4x4 you are toast. It will survive for about 30m in the "native territory" of these. Come on - I do not even see it traversing a rather "mushy" wet lawn without getting stuck. Or getting you to the bottom of that ski slope in a European mountain of choice with 4 inches of snow on the road.

    I am not going to even comment about proper 4x4 territory. This is the Rover StreetWize of the year 2015 - all style, no substance.

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Re: Why?

      Actually if you go to most ski resorts you don't see locals using 4 x 4s on a daily basis. They simply fit winter tyres (not studded) and seem to manage quite happily to get to the bottom of the slopes [before hopping onto a skidoo...]

      1. theModge

        Skirun access

        Can definitely confirm that winter tyres will get you down snowy mountain roads from hotel to ski run.

        Went skiing with a local in Italy and that is precisely what we did.

    2. david bates

      Re: Why?

      Streetwise was DESIGNED to be able to deal with the knocks of city life hence the black bumpers - it never tried to pretend to be a softroader - hence the name.

      Seeing as it cost buttons to develop, probably cost less that a 25 to build and sold at a premium (the older drivers especially liked the raised access) Streetwise was actually no bad thing.

  4. Lars Silver badge

    On mirrors on the left and the right

    Long ago passing a small read "sport" car I stopped and asked the driver if he had lost the left side suspension as the car was leaning to the left in a very odd way. Apart from not beating me up the guy explained that the fuel tank was on the left to compensate for the (English) driver sitting on the right but now converted for a right side traffic both the driver and the fuel tank where on the left and that the car looked sound only when empty and parked.

    I hope Alun Taylor will by now understand how so suddenly there is a mirror only for the driver.

    For a long time my opinion about driving on the left or the right was "whatever" but now with navigators and touch screen stuff it's quite obvious (unless you are left handed) that driving on the left is the dumber choice.

    So what happened in dear old England. Only the Swedes decided to drive on the left, but even they came to their senses and changed one summer night 1950 and something in a very orderly manner.

    Was it the French and the Germans far ahead with automobiles, The French like with the metric system. Even back in time with a shield on the left arm and a sword in the right hand traffic on the right side was the obvious choice. Was it the "not invented here" or just the Great in GB or lawmakers on horses.

    Never mind and looking at the bright side nobody remembered to alter the order of the pedals.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

      Everyone kept left until Napoleon decreed that "it shall be changed"

      Sitting on the left or right depended on the kind of cart in use (assuming he wasn't sat in the middle)

      Drays and other "truck" equivalents tended to have the driver sitting where he could see the curb/wall he was hard up against (breaking a wheel was bad news), whilst other carriages had the driver sitting where he could ensure that he wouldn't be banging into oncoming traffic.

      The "handedness" of driving is like NTSC/PAL and 110/230V - rapidly becoming irrelevant. Robot cars will drive that fairly quickly once they hit mass adoption and I'm pretty sure it will be sped along by vastly stricter driving license requirements (cars themselves will probably revert to 1930s ownership levels, even if individual access to them increases.)

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

        @Allan Brown

        Well Allan I must admit I got a bit “miffed” with the sentence “was miffed that there was no vanity mirror for the passenger – though there was one for the driver.” a bit like being miffed meeting coloured people in Africa. Instead he could have explained the reason and suggest that Citroen fix the, indeed stupid problem, and why not have two mirrors from the very start.

        Then about touch screen, right handed people use their mouse with their right hand and driving a car where you sit at left means that your right hand is free to operate all those silly devices. That is the obvious thing to do not that anybody thought about it then.

        Now then about inflated egos decision making and Napoleon, a highly well educated guy more up to date with anything science than most emperors of his time and the strong guy behind the metric system. So in the year 1875 we have this.

        "In 1875, a British delegation was one of twenty national delegations to a convention in Paris that resulted in seventeen of the nations signing the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875,[23] and the establishment of three bodies, the CGPM, CIPM and BIPM, that were charged with overseeing weights and measures on behalf of the international community. The United Kingdom was one of the countries that declined to sign the convention".

        I would claim the British decision was based more on inflated egos not on merit and that was probably true with the left / right decision too, the merit being a world standard perhaps not that I think anybody thought about it then though. If you look at:

        you can see the result and the reason there.

        We have been run by inflated egod leaders since the beginning of time and nothing has changed. Reading comments, should I now claim the USA decided to drive on the right because they beat the Britisch. Would sound a bit silly I think.

        Speaking about egos, Napoleon's campaign against Russia is of course one of the best examples.

        The car, not my cup of tea, unless slightly used and very cheap (for my wife).

        However the Citroen CV2 must be the best ever produced “volkscar”. It will take you anywhere, is repairable probably for the next 500 years and surprisingly comfortable. A very French feature. The Citroen CS has to be mentioned, and for those of you who newer had the pleasure to drive one, try Jay Leno. I quite like the way he manages to avoid nationalistic shit dealing with cars.

        Anyway, lets bite and get bitten in the good tradition of ElReg, the more the merrier.

        Cheers to all of you.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

      You need side mirrors on both sides for reverse parking to start with (seeing how much clearance you have on each side), nothing to do with left/right hand drive. Producing versions of a model for both markets (and right hand drive isn't unique to the UK, Japan and Australia are both right hand drive to start with, and Japan in particular has a pretty successful automobile industry) is problematic. We have a Skoda (VW underpinnings) that has a difficult to use hand break because of conversion.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

        Don't forget India, most of south east asia, a third of africa...

      2. /dev/null

        Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

        TFA mentions *vanity* mirrors, not door mirrors - the car clearly has two of those in the photos. I presume only one vanity mirror is one of the Cactus's weight/cost-saving measures, like not having a split rear seat.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

      We beat Napolean so we drive how WE want

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

      Lars, you sound confused and are giving this too much thought. Come to Spain and drive on whichever side takes your fancy.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

        "Lars, you sound confused and are giving this too much thought. Come to Spain and drive on whichever side takes your fancy."

        Carry on down to me in Portugal and you can proceed in the same manner. While you are there why not park on a roundabout, block the road while you talk to your friend going the other way etc..

        I used to hate driving. I love it in Portugal as I live on the 'qui vivre' and am almost outsmarted every day.

  5. Matt 70

    Touchscreen too far..

    The creep of functions onto a touchscreen based system is concerning. Where before your muscle memory and tactile feedback would allow you to use the ventilation system without looking, you now need to check the screen which diverts your eyes and concentration from the road. Downright dangerous.

    1. Electron Shepherd

      Re: Touchscreen too far..

      I think voice has a part to play here. In my car, I can press a button on the steering wheel (which I can find by feel, so no need to take eyes off road), and I can set the climate control temperature, select a CD in the changer, change track, retune the radio, control the sat nav, make and receive telephone calls (I can say the number, no need to already be in the phone book) and more. This is a car from 2006, so it's not new technology. Even back then, it was a £250 option, so it isn't expensive at all (if list price for the option is £250, it probably cost about £50 to make).

      I find that in traffic, coming up behind a big smoky diesel and being able to turn the air recirculation on simply by moving my left thumb about 1cm, pressing a button and saying "recirc" to be even safer than having a button on the dashboard that relies on muscle memory.

  6. djstardust

    God it's fugly

    Those door panels are hideous. Replacing my car with that would be like swapping my beautiful wife for Janette Krankie!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: God it's fugly

      Oi leave the SNP leader out of this

  7. johnnymotel

    or this version?

    long time ago, Mr Clarkson mocked the old Fiat Stilo by saying it looked like someone had sat on a baked potato...I see Citroen has revived this concept.

  8. wolfetone Silver badge

    "A funky urban crossover"

    You misspelt "A f**king ugly crossover". It's Citroen's Allegro.

  9. dogged

    So the TCO

    Is that higher or lower than buying an equivalent Dacia for about half the price?

  10. MJI Silver badge

    No rev counter

    No problem driven loads of cars with no rev counters,

    Change gear when they stop accelerating.

    Then I drove a rev counter fited version.

    Vauxhall Family 2 1300cc engine will do 8000rpm. Red line 6.something

    As my own vehicle at the time had a 10,000rpm red line 8000rpm was low.

    I had a part time job running ex lease cars around.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No rev counter

      What I find strange is that a motoring journalist thinks a rev counter is vital.

      Unless you're deaf with no sense of feeling in your body then a rev counter is an unnecessary distraction.

      I'd rather have gauges for stuff instead of indicator lights so I can build up a picture of normal operating values and see when they are going outside those without waiting for some preset value to be breached.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: No rev counter

        The problem is some engines will rev hard into their red sections, no rev limiters, a prime example being the old blobby shaped 1300 Astra D reg era I suppose. Old high mileage lease cars.

        Rarely had rev counters, engine would rev like mad, coming off a bike, you think nothing of an engine revving.

        Was around a year before I came across a rev counter on a 1300, and was amazed to find I was changing 1st to 2nd at 8000rpm, that is when the power dropped off.

        1600 had a rev limiter

        1300 red line was under 7000 cannot remember the value.

        A few years later I owned a hatch with a 1600 pushrod lump in it, would safely rev to 7000rpm, red line was 6000 but the manufacturer stated bottom end safe in road tests (sportyish model maximum power was over 6000rpm) to around 7000, they were too stingy to produce different rev backgrounds.

        A standard low tune 1600 valve bounced before 6000rpm red line, the sportier and tuned ones, well I knew someone with an 8000rpm lump, mine started to bounce a bit over 7000rpm.

        So there I am driving around in a old car with silly rev limit and I have to drive a Sierra, 1600 Pinto. belonged to my then employers,

        OK it was crap, but the red line was about 5,500 or so, but if no rev counter I would have taken it over 6000, just to get it moving.

        By the way I have never rev damaged an engine, but I have killed a couple of poor gearboxes, usually due to crap change quality forcing wrong gears (Ford front drive ones were horrid). When 2 was to he back and left of 1 1st to 4th was common. Perhaps I was spoiled by my own cars having gear levers sticking out of the box itself rather than via cables.

        So the first point is, if you do not have a rev counter make sure there is a rev limiter, you do not know what the driver has just come off from. If you have just come off a bike, you will thrash the car just to get slow acceleration, and when you are used to 8000 to 10000 power bands, well a high revving car engine sounds like it is just coming on song.

        And another point, too little power, get plenty of power and the car will accelerate well enough without revving. Had 2.0 and over now for 20 years, can't see any reason to buy a tiny engine with the weight cars are today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No rev counter

          /dev/null - Why do you need to know how fast the engine is going round?

          MJI - If you need a rev counter to tell you that you are over-revving you shouldn't be driving, at least you shouldn't be making comments about rev counters. You got to 8000 rpm before changing from 1st to second, I don't even want to think about that.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: No rev counter

            Rev counter

            Jump off a sports bike into a car, used to power bands starting at say 8000 revving a car to 8000 is not excessive, if it will go there it gets there.

            Unless you have ridden high revving engines it is difficult to understand.

            When engines with strokes over 60mm are hitting over 10,000 rpm reliably on bikes there is no reason to jump into a shortish stroke car and think that revving it will kill it (when warm of course).

            My old pushrod lumped hot hatch was 4mm longer stroke than some superbike engines, no wonder the racve engines were fine at 8000rpm and mine was fine at 7000rpm. Also that it did > 100,000 miles OK

            Rev counters are needed.

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: No rev counter

            On my last sports bike I changed gear at 12,500 rpm

            It LOVED revving

          3. /dev/null

            Re: No rev counter

            Various reasons. I like to limit the revs while the engine is cold. It's useful sometimes to have an accurate indication of idle speed. Sometimes you forget to change up to 5th (or 6th) until the tachometer reminds you. On some cars the engine can be so quiet, the tachometer is the best way to ascertain whether it's actually running. I once had a car which developed a crankshaft position sensor fault - I now know that erratic tachometer behaviour that doesn't match what you can hear is a symptom of that (pity the RAC guy didn't know this at the time though). And I just like machines that give me information on what's happening inside them.

      2. /dev/null

        Re: No rev counter

        I'd rather have gauges for stuff instead of indicator lights too - and some of that "stuff" is how fast the engine is going round!

  11. 0laf


    Hideous would probably be another way to put it. However, it looks like the reliability reputation of French motors might be unjustified these days with the most recent reliability survey putting the Germans at the bottom.

    My in-laws have just bought a Clio as a second car and they rave about it, far more than the £30k new Audi A3 they also bought this year.

    Myself I had a pretty miserable experience in a Clio when I had one, cheap to run but crumbling from new.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Is that the model where Renault reccommends removing the front bumper in order to replace the headlight bulbs?

  12. Gordon 10
    Thumb Up

    Not So Fugly

    Having seen this in the flesh twice I can honestly say its one of those cars you have to see. I think it looks good in a quirky way.

    Its no MK1 Fiat Multipla that's for sure.

  13. Semaj
    Thumb Down

    I've seen these driving around. They look weird and I don't like them.

    That's my review :P

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