You may remember the first generation Citroen Cactus – it was all bubble and shapes and featured those much talked-about airbump side panels. Well now, there’s a new one and it’s all grown up. The styling may be more subdued, but thanks to a new suspension system this should be the most comfortable Cactus yet. Let’s find out if that’s the case.
As I mentioned, the exterior of the Cactus has been rather radically quietened. The large side airbumps have been replaced by smaller versions positioned lower down the side of the car, and the whole thing just feels less exciting than before. It’s still recognisable as a Citroen, and it’s certainly more in line with other cars in the stable such as the C3, but it feels less out-there than the first-gen Cactus.
The interior of the Cactus is a good update on the older car’s, and the main infotainment system has been updated. The biggest change is the seats; they’ve been designed to be as comfortable as possible and they certainly deliver in that sense – they’re supportive, yet soft enough to make even the longest of trips an ache-free process.
The interior is bright and spacious, and there’s a good amount of legroom for passengers in the rear too.
When it comes to practicality, the Cactus does reasonably well. Boot space is 358 litres with the rear seats in place, though they can be folded flat in a 60:40 split, extending that space to 1,170 litres. That’s more than you’ll find in the Nissan Juke, and only just behind what you’ll get in a Volkswagen Golf too.
Underneath the Cactus’ bonnet sits Citroen’s 110 Puretech petrol engine and, though there are a variety of other petrol and diesel offerings, this does a great job of propelling the car in a decent fashion. It’s not quick – it’ll hit 60mph in just under 9 and a half seconds, but it doesn’t feel too underpowered out on the road. Here, power is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
A by-product of that low power and capacity is decent economy. Citroen claims it’ll return 65.7mpg, while emissions are an impressively low 100g/km CO2.
Citroen has worked hard to make the Cactus as comfortable as possible and as such it’s fitted it with something called Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, and these help to control the up and down motion of the car, therefore flattening things out.
It delivers a really silky ride, and that really helps when driving at lower speeds because it means those small imperfections don’t translate into the cabin quite as much.
You do have to stir the five-speed gearbox a little bit more than you would do in a more powerful car, but that is to be expected. However, you do find sometimes that you’re in a gear a little too high for the situation.
The Cactus’ steering is light and this makes it ideal for driving around town where you want as much manoeuvrability as possible. However, when you’re out on the open road that lack of weight does mean you don’t have quite as much confidence in where you’re placing the car as with a usual vehicle. It’s hard to accurately place the car.
One thing that I think is worth pointing out is that the front end of the car is incredibly hard to see. Because it’s so raked and because it falls away so steeply, your corners are really quite far away from you and this can make it tricky to position that car at lower speeds.
Citroen has delivered a well-rounded, practical and economical hatchback with the new Cactus. However, compared to its predecessor it’s lost some of that sparkle which made it quite exciting. Compared to rivals it still does rather well, and if you can look past that slight lack in charisma, then you’ll be rewarded with a really rather good small car.