Review: Citroen's new C4 Cactus is the ultra comfortable hatchback
Citroen has updated its funky C4 Cactus hatchback, with new interior and exterior styling, engineering and the latest technology.
Quite a lot, actually. New suspension, fancy new seating, updated external design and a refreshed cabin.
Plus, there is a bunch of the latest technology and 12 driver assistance systems. Connectively is massively improved with the addition of the latest systems. Oh, and some new engines as well.
On the outside
The external design is more flowing and better balanced than its predecessor, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It still stands out amongst the hatchback crowd, including the use of a 'floating' roof, although the controversial Airbumps are now slimmer, smaller and positioned down towards the bottom of the doors.
Airbump supporters say they offer excellent protection against scrapes, bumps and dings.
The new model boasts an extended range of external personalisation options, with nine body colours - including a new Emerald Blue metallic paint - and four Colour Packs, giving a total of 31 possible combinations.
In the cabin
Citroën says enhanced soundproofing has been added, but the bug change internally is the deployment of Citroën's Advanced Comfort seats.
These feature bolstered support and height-adjustments for the driver and the front passenger, plus adjustable lumbar support for the driver.
"Exceptional comfort" is assured by the foam and high-density layer used within each seat. The construction delivers the correct support, which is particularly beneficial on long journeys.
The softness of the foam, the extra padding and the overall appearance of the seats give an impression of comfort before you even sit down.
Behind the wheel
The manufacturer boasts that comfort is then taken to the "next level" thanks to Citroën's Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension.
This is a European first and is standard specification on Feel and Flair trim levels. This next-generation technology absorbs road imperfections for a "magic carpet" ride effect, without adversely affecting the car's handling or driving pleasure.
(If you experience a feeling of déjà vu, you might be remembering the air suspensions of famous old Citroëns of the 70s and 80s.)
In fact the way it works is, says Citroën, quite simple. Whilst conventional suspension systems use a shock absorber, a spring and mechanical bump stops at each corner of the car, the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions (PHC) system adds two hydraulic stops on each suspension unit to replace the mechanical stops.
There is one hydraulic stop for compression and one for decompression. The suspension therefore works in two stages to match how the car is being used.
For light compression and decompression, the springs and shock absorbers control the vertical movements, with no assistance required from the hydraulic stops.
During major impacts, the springs and shock absorbers work together with the hydraulic compression or decompression stops that gradually slow the movement to avoid sudden jolts at the end of the range.
Under the bonnet
Citroën's latest generation engines are available, with diesel and petrol choices.
The highest-performance version is available with the turbocharged PureTech 130 S&S mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The PureTech 110, also turbocharged, is available with a 5-speed manual gearbox (PureTech 110 S&S manual) or the EAT6 6-speed automatic gearbox (PureTech 110 S&S EAT6). The entry-level model is powered by the PureTech 82 with a manual gearbox.
The diesel powerplants from launch are the BlueHDi 100 manual and the BlueHDi 100 S&S manual. This autumn an automatic diesel, BlueHDi 120 S&S EAT6 comes on stream.
Driver safety tech
Citroën has packed in 12 driving assistance systems to make every day driving easier and safer. These include Active Safety Brake which uses a multipurpose camera to detect obstacles and apply the brakes between 3mph and 52mph.
Also included are Grip Control - which enables the vehicle to adapt its front wheel grip depending on the surface (snow, mud, sand etc.) - Coffee Break Alert, Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation, Park Assist, and a Blind Spot Monitoring System.
On board connectivity
The 7-inch touchscreen groups together all of the key vehicle functions, such as the air conditioning, radio and telephone.
Other technologies include voice-controlled 3D navigation via Citroën Connect Nav, Citroën Connect Box with Emergency & Assistance and Mirror Screen functionality with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink.
The main trim levels are Feel, Feel Edition, and Flair. A special PureTech 82 manual Feel Edition is available until the end of May at a special price of £17,265.
The main range starts from £17,995 for a PureTech 110 S&S manual, and currently tops out at £21,165 for a PureTech 110 S&S EAT6 auto.