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Citroen spikes up car market with Cactus 

CITROEN has something of a reputation for doing things a bit different from the rest and they’ve managed to achieve that once again.

I sampled the C4 Cactus before it arrived on UK roads in mid September and reckon it’s certain to be a popular choice for motorists who want something a bit out of the ordinary.

There’s certainly nothing ordinary about this spiky newcomer.

Unlike a real cactus, the airbumps you see in this model aren’t spiky – they are pretty clever though.

Fitted to the front and rear doors, these tough air-filled thermoplastic polyurethane capsules protect against minor bumps and scrapes.

And that must be good news for many of us who have returned to car parks to find dings and dents on our paintwork.

It’s difficult to describe the Cactus when you first see it – it looks funky, yet stylish and muscular with its wheel arch protections and roof bars.

The interior doesn’t escape new styling thinking either and even includes leather luggage straps as door handles.

The front passenger airbag is roof mounted, allowing extra space for a large top-box compartment.

There is no shortage of storage space inside with large bins and smaller storage trays on the doors.

A digital 7-inch touchscreen controls all the main functions, including air conditioning, radio, satnav, Bluetooth and driving aids such as reversing camera, park assist and cruise control.

Diver and front passenger seats are roomy and comfortable enough and all-round vision is good.

A single-piece folding rear bench and pop-out rear windows are part of the extensive weight-saving designs that make the Cactus 200kg lighter than an equivalent Citroen C4.

There is a choice of three trims – Touch, Feel and Flair – and they all feature a high level of standard equipment.

On the entry model this includes cruise control with speed limiter, central locking, front electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, 7-inch touchscreen, gear efficiency indicator, steering wheel controls, DAB digital radio/MP3 player, aux socket, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assistance and electronic stability control.

A range of smaller engines – four petrol and two diesel – offer outstanding efficiency, delivering fuel economy figures of up to 91.1mpg and CO2 emissions from just 82g/km.

The most powerful diesel engine – 1.6-litre 100bhp turbo – will be a popular choice and I sampled this in a top-of-the-range Flair model.

It was punchy enough mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and also pretty quiet at low and high speeds.

Moving from standstill to 62mph in 10.7 seconds isn’t a blistering pace but it was smart enough for this model which has a top speed of 114mph.

The Cactus handled well and ride comfort was good, even on some potholed surfaces.

It’s a car I could happily live with and if you fancy one there are lots of big benefits.

Not least is the price, with models ranging from £12,990 to £18,190, so there is plenty of choice.

All diesel models are free from Vehicle Excise Duty as is one petrol version which emits just 98g/km.

You will also save lots when filling up as fuel economy figures are sensational.

The 1.6-diesel engine I sampled is capable of achieving 74.3mpg urban, 88.3mpg extra urban and 83.1mpg combined.

And Citroen claims that Cactus running costs are reduced by around 20 per cent compared to a typical C segment hatchback.

It is available in 10 body colours, from eye-catching hello yellow to elegant pearl white.

All versions are fitted with black airbumps as standard with three additional colours – stone grey, dune and chocolate – also available depending on the body colour.

You can even change the airbumps to a different colour if you get fed up of the colour.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, the stylish Cactus could be the car for you.