This Cactus has its own way of defending itself
Published 12/02/2014 | 02:30
Citroen's latest small-family car, the C4 Cactus, is certainly different.
You'd expect it tries to cut costs with fresh engines and reductions in weight to keep your fuel bill low.
But it also has special protection 'pads' along its flanks and bumpers – Airbump technology – to cut down on repairs for scrapes, or worse, to the bodywork.
These panels use supple air-capsule skin TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) to absorb impacts.
The good thing about it is that they require no specific maintenance.
It's an interesting concept but whether it will survive the ravages of supermarket car parks here or the screwdriver-wielding vandals that stalk our streets, only time will tell.
It was a major talking point at the marque's unveiling of the new car which gets here later on in the year.
You can have these panels in four colours to match the body as well as three choices of interior trim.
Equally important is the damage a thirsty engine can do to your pocket. Here Citroen claims that, under certain conditions (mainly a light right boot, one suspects), the car is capable of up to 98mpg. That is what they claim.
Overall, the Cactus is a smart package with significant weight reduction – again – chipping away cost by up to 20pc.
It comes in at just 965kg – 200kg lighter than the C4 hatch – and is 4160mm long, 1480mm tall and 1730mm wide, sitting on a 2600mm wheelbase. Key rivals include the Kia Sportage, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur to mention just three.
Unveiled at a static, pre-production presentation ahead of the Geneva show, it will draw attention with its floating roof, rail bars, curves and strong colours.
Engine line-up and pricing have yet to be decided but we are told it will be slightly less expensive than the C4 at just over the €20,000 mark. In Europe, it's expected it will have a 1-litre 3cyl turbo petrol, an e-THP, and eHDI and BlueHDI diesels.
Standard will be a 7ins touch display for air-con and infotainment, and a digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel.
There is a bench-seat type arrangement in the cabin, the dashboard is lower, while the glove compartment looks like an old travel chest embedded in rugged comfort.
One generally shared quibble was on the flip-out rear window latches . . . more just a nuisance than retro.
Overall though this, with its low running costs, should generate a fair amount of interest.