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Citroën C4 Cactus: The British designed French eye-catcher

By Roger St. Pierre, with Hazel Kempster

In a world of lookalike jelly-mould designs, there are very few of today’s cars that really do turn heads. The new Citroën C4 Cactus is certainly one of them.

You’ll either love or hate this oddball little British designed French newcomer but, either way, your neighbours are certain to sit up and take notice if you park one outside your front door.

This quirky set of wheels had its ‘Marmite Moment’ at the recent 2015 ‘World Car Design of the Year’ awards – and it was the votes of acclaim rather than the “no” votes that prevailed for the French contender.

Further accolades have come snowballing in, including the prestigious Autocar Sturmey Award, presented to designer Mark Lloyd at a lavish event in London and the highly competitive 2015 Ultralight Tow Car Award, whose judging panel cited the high standard set by this unconventional family hatchback: “If you tow a trailer tent and don’t want or need a big car then the C4 Cactus is a great choice,” comments Citroën head of marketing Mike Wilson.

Priced from £12,990 on the road, the C4 Cactus links an efficient range of engines, the latest in-car technology, good performance and five-door hatchback practicality with that highly distinctive styling to create an appealing package.

For starters, my options loaded £20,555 Cactus Blue HDi diesel fuelled test car came in a strikingly bright yellow that served to highlight the chunky bumpers and the unique rubberised pads that grace and protect the flanks of the bodywork.

Inside there’s an unusual, centrally mounted seven-inch oval touch-drive interface that puts control of all the primary vehicle functions within easy reach.

Whether are not the raft of stylish add-ons – inside and out – are just for effect or serve a real purpose I will leave for you to decide but you certainly will not get bored with all the gadgetry on display.

Standard kit includes cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, gear efficiency indicator, sat nav and even an electronic owner’s manual.

Overall running costs are an impressive 29 per cent less than the benchmark in the compact hatchback segment and there’s a range of innovative purchase schemes and a welcome fuel consumption figure of as low as 91.1 mpg, with CO2 emissions from 82g/km – mind-blowing figures indeed.

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