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Weird outside and great inside, the C4 Cactus is a new approach to a C-segment crossover. Low-cost features abound, but this top-spec diesel's price means it isn't the sweet spot in the range
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The C4 Cactus is not based on the same platform as regular C4s, nor the new EMP2 used by its cousin, the Peugeot 308. It is based on Platform 1, which underpins the Citroën C3. No wonder Citroën claims that the C4 Cactus is 200kg lighter than C4 - 175kg of those come from using a stretched smaller platform. At 4157mm long, it sits between C3's 3941mm and C4's 4329mm.

There is no four-wheel drive system available as an option, just the regular front-wheel drive, but there is a choice of manual or robotised manual gearboxes.

You cannot make any Citroën company representative use the words 'low cost' when talking about C4 Cactus. But there are a number of features that make the production cost less, which we'll come to later. Citroën prefers to talk about things like "design to value" or "bring customers more of what really matters."

We tried a left-hand-drive C4 Cactus, the e-HDI 92 Airdream ETG6 version, in a top-of-the-range equipment level called Shine. The other two trims are the entry-level Live and the intermediate Feel.

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This variant uses the latest version of the well-known 1.6-litre four cylinder, common rail diesel, with injection pressure of 1600 bar, 7-hole injectors and a fixed geometry turbocharger.

The 'wow effect' per pound must be one of the best in the market, judging from the reaction of people who saw our C4 Cactus during this first test.

And they didn't even see the cabin, where the instrument binnacle has been replaced by a digital display and centre console buttons have been integrated into the 7in touch screen, which is a simplified version of the one used in the C4 Picasso.

The glove compartment lid opens upwards, only possible due to the relocation of the front passenger airbag to the roof.

With the clutchless ETG6 robotised gearbox comes the Easy Push system, where the traditional D, R and N positions are selected via three big buttons set low in the centre console.

The cabin ambience is not low cost at all; it really feels special in here. The design successfully transmits some of the Frenchness that was poured into the project.

When this first test was over, the feeling was positive towards the Citroën C4 Cactus. It is hard not to like the cabin ambience and the get-in-and-drive attitude, something that is missing from many new and complex cars.

At the right price, this could be an option to the mainstream hatchbacks, especially with the promise of low running costs.

Except, the estimated price of the version we tested, when it goes on sale in October, is not that low. A top version like this one is expected to cost around £18,000

Read the full review here: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/citroen/cactus/first-drives/citroen-c4-cactus-e-hdi-92-airdream-first-drive-review
 

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