Today we bid farewell to our Cactus demo - Citroen's new C4-based crossover which is instantly recognisable thanks to its distinctive 'chocolate bar' airbumps - and I'm going to miss it.
Over the past couple of days, I've had the opportunity to drive the Cactus two or three times - in and around town and out on the open road. And I really, really like it. Maybe it's because of the spacious cabin, or perhaps the great visibility. Or it could be its extraordinary lightness which seems to make this car so easy to manoeuvre and effortless to drive. OK, I do like a Citroen and have a lingering affection for the old C4 VTR, so the controls of the Cactus where reasonably familiar to me. But, there is something so very comfortable and easy about the new Cactus that just takes you by surprise.
And it's not just the driving that impressed me. Parking is a breeze. Getting the 3yr old in and out the back requires no breaking of backs, and the boot is big enough to fit his trike and some. And yes, it's got a super-efficient set up so should be a fuel saver too.
How does it look? Well, we had a silver model with grey airbump panels - probably the most innocuous of colour combinations available for the Cactus. Yet it still, genuinely turned heads everywhere I went. It's true, the Cactus does wear a lot more plastic than most other cars, but when you think about how many doors are scratch and bashed in car parks every day, then it does make sense. And it's not uneasy on the eye - quite the opposite in fact.
There is however one 'but', and it's very much a personal thing. The touch screen controls take a lot of getting used to. OK, it's the way everything is going, and we're all so accustomed to our tablets that having one stuck to the dashboard, replacing all those old school dials and knobs, should really be a no-brainer. The trouble is, it makes the simplest of actions - like turning up the heating, or switching from radio to Bluetooth - a tad more complicated that it needs be. If I was driving the Cactus for longer, perhaps it would have become second nature. Then again, the position of the screen means the central fans are a little too low, and there's no CD player (and ok, it's been a while since I played a CD in a car, but still ...). And there's one more niggle: the touchscreen is problematic for folks like me who don't need glasses to drive but do when sitting at a computer. I dare say I'd memorise the control settings soon enough though. And I'm more than willing to do so simply because the Cactus is such an easy-going, no fuss, comfy, good looking family car.
It's also incredibly good value for money, with 18month personal contract hire deals from £161.70. http://www.vehicles4work.com/personal-lease-cars/citroen/c4-cactus-hatchback
Citroen’s new Cactus, with it’s ‘chocolate’ airbumps
* All vehicle images and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily an accurate representation of the vehicle on offer.
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