Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

French Flair; Head-Turning SUV Is All about Funky Design

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

French Flair; Head-Turning SUV Is All about Funky Design

Article excerpt

Vani Naidoo

Staff writer

SMASHING shopping trolleys into side panels and peppering the immaculate body with healthy sprays of paintball bullets isn't the most conventional way to introduce a new car. Naming it after a prickly desert plant and trying to invoke images of a tough fun car in a country where the name is more akin to something on its last breath is hardly conventional either.

But then, the Citroen C4 Cactus doesn't do conventional.

Encased in a blanket of innovative technology with some 23,184 possible personalised combinations (yep, unbelievable but true), the C4 Cactus is Citroen's attempt to go back to its heart - simple functional design that answers the questions buyers are asking. The Airbumps, moulded panels made up of plastic air bubbles much in the same vein as bubble wrap, protect the doors and bumpers from scratches, scrapes and dents.

On the road

Citroen Australia had six engines to choose from for this eye-catching Cactus, eventually opting for the 1.2-litre three-cylinder 81kW turbo-petrol paired with silky five-speed manual transmission and a 64kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel mated with a six-speed semi-automatic unit.

Light, strong and efficient, the Cactus is accomplished both in stop-start traffic and on longer speedier highway stretches, decidedly more car-like than SUV in its performance.

It copes well with quick changes in direction, is competent and confident in and out of corners except if it has to negotiate an unexpected bump, and enthusiastic enough when urgency is required. Steering feel isn't exactly lively but about par for what you would expect in this class and it does sometimes need encouragement on steeper climbs.

While the semi-automatic manual offering is one of the better options around, there still is that noticeable anticipation of a gear change that surprises. Steering wheel paddles help circumvent that, but only to some degree, although familiarity brings with it more skill in modulating the accelerator for a smoother drive.

What do you get?

There is obvious generosity in the Cactus's long roll call of standard features, which includes a 7-inch touch screen with Bluetooth and sat nav, digital radio, auto lights and wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, reverse camera with sensors, guide me home lighting and 17-inch alloys. …

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