Two into one as Citroën replaces older duo with single C4 Cactus
Comfort and consolidation were the buzzwords at the recent unveiling of the new Citroën C4 Cactus in Paris.
Consolidation in that the new car, which will go on sale in the second half of next year, will replace not just the existing C4 Cactus, but also the regular C4 hatchback.
Meanwhile comfort, together with design, is now firmly at the centre of the French brand's core targets.
"We're taking a 21st century approach to comfort and design," Citroën CEO Linda Jackson told the Irish Independent at the launch.
Comfort means more than 'comfort'. In the current context it also includes the likes of connectivity, acoustics and even the ease of going to a dealership for purchasing or servicing.
Although ostensibly a mid-life makeover of the existing Cactus, the new car heralds significant changes to both styling and engineering, with the comfort focus manifesting itself via two key areas.
Most notably, it will become the first car in Europe to have Citroën's Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC) suspension. Instead of traditional rubber bump stops, PHC uses secondary hydraulic dampers that progressively limit wheel travel at the extremes. This also enables softer, comfort-oriented springs and dampers to be fitted.
Also on the comfort agenda are the seats, with new chairs featuring high-density foam that retains shape for longer and offers strong postural support.
We tried them out at the launch - they do seem exceptionally comfy.
The need to appeal to the broader family hatchback market brings a more conventional appearance to the Cactus.
Notably the signature Airbumps that feature so prominently on the current model have been moved further down the body to the side sills.
Citroën admitted they had become a divisive issue amongst customers.
The front has had a makeover to bring it firmly in line with recent models such as the C3 Aircross crossover.
The other obvious change is that roof rails are no longer standard.
Redesigned LED tail-lights, meanwhile, also help give the car a more mainstream hatchback appearance.
Engines will be largely as before, but one addition is set to be a range-topping 130bhp version of the 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech petrol.
Looking to the future, Ms Jackson told us there will ultimately be eight core models in Citroën's model line-up.
Apart from a new Berlingo van due next autumn - which will be a shared product with its Peugeot and Opel cousins - the next major arrival before year end will be a larger crossover, the C5 Aircross, which has already gone on sale in China.
A hybrid version of that car is expected in 2019/2020 while we can expect Citroën's first all-electric offering also by 2020.