Driven - January 2016

Citroen South Africa’s C4 Cactus: A proper hipster car

Citroen South Africa’s space aged plant.

If there’s one thing we can give Citroen, is that over the years they’ve been the one car maker that couldn’t give anything about what the average person considers as the norm. As a result, to say they have created bold designs would be an understatement. Think of all the cars that Citroen South Africa has brought here. For instance, remember the Citroen DS? Yes the car almost everyone’s grandfather owned. It looked like a large roach that had self-levelling suspension. Yet today, you look back at the design of the DS and the inner *hipster (see footnote) in you comes out, urging you to source one, restore it and drive it around with a large beard on your face.

Many will agree that Citroen’s designs have always been somewhat ahead of the times. Nothing has changed with one of their new cars, the C4 Cactus. Need we say more? With a name like Cactus for a car, one can’t expect anything less than a ridiculously interesting design, perhaps with protective Airbumps on the doors so no one scratches your Cactus in a parking lot. Oh wait, that’s exactly what Citroen did with this car. On first impressions, we looked at it and thought “yuck”, then after some time we realised that the only reason why we gagged was because we were in shock. After some more time we even started to think the C4 Cactus was oddly good looking. “Are we losing our minds?” we thought, as the character of the Cactus charmed us to the point where we couldn’t believe that a car named after a plant could induce such big grins behind the wheel.

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This is mainly due to the fact that upon entering a Citroen C4 Cactus, you feel like you’re in the future. The cabin is flat, wide and so very space age that they may as well throw in R2D2 to ride shot gun with you. Everything in the car is controlled by one screen. This includes the air-conditioning, the radio and the central locking too. And then there’s the driving experience, it feels very light behind the wheel, and not in a bad way. You almost feel like you’re gliding around, possibly the same feeling our grandfathers had in their DS’s. The model we had was the top of the range Shine Puretech with the 81 kW 1.2 litre turbocharged engine.

 

One would think that because the engine is quite small, the Cactus would be as fast as its namesake, but it’s the complete opposite. That little engine must’ve eaten all its vegetables because it packed a small punch enough to make us burst out in laughter at just how ridiculously quirky this car is. The Cactus is the best laugh R294 900 can buy you in this segment. How can you not smile when telling people you’re meeting up with to look out for a white Cactus approaching?

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As good as the Cactus is as an experience, and as good as it is to drive on a long road and in town, the only frustrations we have with it, was the fact that the steering wheel is not reach adjustable, and at high speed, the roof racks tend to get noisy. Besides that, the car is a very unique blast to drive. No wonder it’s a finalist for the 2016 SAGMJ Car of the year. Citroen South Africa must be very pleased about that. The fact that the small engine sips fuel is another aspect that really impresses. At the end of the day all these little things about this car come together to encompass what Citroen has always strived to be, which is to be different.

Who knows, perhaps a few decades from now our children will be looking for old Cactus’s/Cacti to restore so they too can embrace their inner hipster. Till then, if you want something otherworldly, spacious and scratch resistant, then the C4 Cactus may just be up your ally. For me information on the car, click here.

*Hipster: “Artistic” men and women who detest the “mainstream”. They’re generally identifiable through their vintage clothing, round wooden glasses and large Asterix and Obelix-like beards.

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