Citroen previews the less-prickly Cactus

Remember when Citroen’s were so quirky, it hurt (in a good way)? Well, have a go at the C4 Cactus – the production version.

Concept car in design, but practical and clever just about everywhere else, the C4 Cactus shares part of its name and its 2608mm wheelbase with the humdrum C4 hatchback, though it’s otherwise entirely its own thing. The Cactus is 170mm shorter than a regular C4, but far more importantly, weighs a whopping 200kg less thanks to a swathe of light-weighting measures that extend to simple stuff such as fixed rear windows (dropping 11kg) and a single-piece folding rear seat (saving 6kg).

Adding to the Cactus’s utilitarian appeal are the customisable ‘Airbumps’ – body protection made into a design feature.

There’s much that is distinctly bespoke about this car. The dashboard is fully digital with a separate centre touchscreen that controls everything from the ventilation to satellite navigation, while the passenger’s airbag has migrated to the roof (a world-first) in order to liberate storage space in the dashboard.

There are some great touches inside. Door pulls are leather straps and the front ‘sofa-style’ seat joins in the centre, with a flip-down armrest like a split-bench Yank car from the ’60s. There’s ample rear-seat room, a deep 358-litre boot, and because the Cactus is so light, it gets PSA’s charming little 1.2-litre three-pot petrol, and a super-efficient turbo-diesel that emits a Toyota Prius-beating 82g/km of CO2 and sips just 3.1L/100km.

Not surprisingly, Citroen Oz has put its hand up for the C4 Cactus like an excited kid trying to get teacher’s attention. But we won’t see it before 2015, and at a price likely to be northwards of Peugeot’s $21,990-plus 2008.

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