First Drive: 67 MPG 2015 CitroŽn Cactus Diesel By Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

2015 CitroŽn Cactus (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 CitroŽn Cactus

Editors Note:2015 CitroŽn C4 Cactus wins Next Green Car Award for Best Crossover

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

AMSTERDAM - August 13, 2014: CitroŽn has introduced its new C4 Cactus, a small family car that is relatively cheap. The French manufacturer has saved weight by shedding excessive technology and interior trim. Our first drive will tell if going back to simplicity still can be fun.

Nearly seven years ago at the Frankfurt Auto Show, French car manufacturer CitroŽn presented the C-Cactus Concept, a model that was quite controversial. Many people expected it would never go into production, but during the last Geneva show, CitroŽn proved them wrong when they unveiled the C4 Cactus. Admitted, the production car is not as extreme as the concept. It has ‘lost’ the sloping roof line, but it is without doubt unique.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

CitroŽn named the original concept Cactus because, thanks to the diesel hybrid drive line, it was low on consumption like the plant. The French wanted the production model to be a relatively low priced family crossover for the compact segment. And when the C4 Cactus was unveiled, they proudly announced that it is some 200 kg/440 pounds lighter than the C4 hatchback that weighs 1175 kg/2590 lbs.

However, the Cactus may have the same wheel base as the C4 (2.60 m/102.3 inches), it is based on a stretched version of the old PF1-platform for small cars, which also underpins the C3 and DS3. CitroŽn chose not to use the EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform) that was unveiled last year, which obviously would have been more expensive because of the use of aluminum and composite.

Watch the introduction of the 2015 Cactus at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Anyway, the C4 Cactus weighs 965 kg/2127 lbs, which means it is even 85 kg/187 lbs lighter than the C3. With a length of 4,16 m/163.8 inches, the Cactus sits right between the C3 and C4 and brings CitroŽn in the popular segment of the small crossover SUVs, where PSA-sister Peugeot already offers such a model with its 2008.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

Cost saving has been achieved with using simple features and more hard plastic, such as for the minimalistic dashboard. Only where hands can touch it, CitroŽn has used soft plastic. The instrument panel has been replaced by a digital display, while the buttons that you would expect in the center console, are now integrated around the 7-inch touch screen tablet.
2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

It means that you have to scroll trough several menus in order to do what you want, such as choosing the right temperature. The black rubber studs on top of the dashboard in front of the passenger are meant to hold a smart phone or papers. It really works, provided you are not trying to copy the start of your favorite race car driver.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

The handles on the front doors and glove box are replaced by leather straps and look like taken from the parts bin of the luggage industry. Surprisingly enough, those in the rear are just regular handles… The glove box opens upwards because the airbag for the front passenger has been moved into the roof, which is a world first. The side windows in the rear cannot slide down, but only pop out. Those in the front are electric, but there is no auto function.

Applying less insulation has also been a cost cutting measure. It means that it is not as quiet inside, as we are used to nowadays, but it is not annoying either.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

The driver seat is easy to adjust, indeed manually, for the optimal driving position. The steering wheel can be adjusted only in height, not in depth.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

In the rear is enough legroom for not-too-tall persons. If you want maximum headroom there, then the panorama roof is not a wise option, as it takes up nearly an inch. The Cactus seats three in the rear on a bench, with a backrest that folds down as a whole. That way you can extend the content of the boot from 358 to 1170 liter (12.6 to 41.3 cubic feet). Pity though that the loading height is on the high side.

Like in the front, the seats cushion feels a bit weird, as if there is a bulge in the transition to the backrest. This may have to do with the use of thinner upholstery, again to save weight and cost. Another weight saver is the smaller reservoir for wiper fluid, which is possible because installs Magic Wash wipers with ‘built-in’ nozzles that spray water on the windshield if needed. It’s similar to what Mercedes introduced in 2011 as Magic Vision Control.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

Is the atmosphere in the cabin shabby? No, not at all: it is different, but not unattractive.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

The same goes for the exterior. The Cactus is not like any other model on the road. With the split headlights, a low roof, raised suspension and long wheel base it stands out, but new are the so-called ‘Airbumps’ at the sides.
They are in fact pieces of rubber aircushions, like bubble wrap. Of course, they are nice styling details, but not less important, they protect the sheet metal from being dented by doors of cars next to the Cactus, which are opened too wide, or from cyclists who are getting too close. I do not know if that’s the reason CitroŽn chose Amsterdam for the first driving events, but it could be!

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Airbumps are available in four colors, so that customers can make a striking or somewhat less noticeable combination with the paint colors. I like the grey air bumps, because they match the grey of the wheel well extenders and the bumpers, and I would prefer to match them with red or yellow paint. However, I just heard from the Citroen spokesperson in The Netherlands that of the one thousand units already sold here, the most popular color is pearl white with chocolate brown Airbumps.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

CitroŽn offers the C4 Cactus with a choice of four petrol and two diesel engines. I drove the top petrol model, the e-THP 110 with the 1.2-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine with 110 hp and 205 Nm/151 pound-feet of torque, combined with the manual 5-speed gearbox. I also drove the HDi 90 diesel model with 92 hp and 230 Nm/170 lb-ft of torque, teamed to the clutch less 6-speed automatic transmission.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

Both variants are offering a relaxed drive, with a suspension that is set up to ease out smaller bumps and rough roads, but bigger bumps are quite noticeable in the cockpit.

There is a bit of roll in the corners, but grip is pretty good. I was a bit disappointed with the 5-speed gearbox. Shifting is not very precise and because of its wide spaced gears, I had to shift more than usual when driving in a crowded city like Amsterdam. There, between all those bicycles, you have to look twice before making a right turns, to make sure no one is hiding behind the thick C-style.

2015 CitroŽn Cactus  (select to view enlarged photo)

Citroen claims fuel consumption (in the EU cycle) to be only 4.7 liter/100 km (converted: 50 mpg) with 107 g/km CO2, which is really good.

The diesel engine is combined with the electric 6-speed ETG transmission (Efficient Tronic Gearbox) that is at its best when shifted with the paddles on the steering wheel. Fuel consumption is even lower than that of the gasoline engine: 3.5 l/100 km (or 67 mpg) with 92 g/km CO2.

The prices of the Cactus in my country are competitive and, as I mentioned earlier, already one thousand units have been sold. Customers do not only get an extraordinary car, but also good standard equipment. The Euro NCAP crash test is due in September, but Citroen expects it to achieve a five star result.

Citroen is back on track: gone are the more or less anonymous models of a decade or so ago. The car maker has recently shown to be able to come up again with fresh styling. And with the C4 Cactus, the French prove to be able to build a fun, practical and affordable car that brings some fresh air in the highly competitive segment.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Citroën Cactus

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