I test drove a C4 Cactus yesterday

We got a letter in the mail of a Citroën dealership in Oslo we hadn't heard about and I decided to go see if the people at the dealership were nice and if it could be a place we could go to for maintenance in the future.

We walked in and started chatting with the representative that we have a C6 and are thinking of changing dealerships and how nice the new C4 Cactus looks. He immediately offers if we would like a test drive, since it is available for another 40 minutes (this has never happened to me/us, not even when we were looking to buy new).

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Exterior

The car looks a lot bigger in pictures than it really is. In pictures I thought it would be in VW Touran territory, but it is more in between a Polo and a Golf.

The airbumps are a really neat feature and you can really push in the sides of the car. Apparently they are replaceable in case your neighbor in the car park dings your door and one of them breaks.

I really like the modern look the car has with the big mirrors and the designed roof rails.

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Interior

Materials used are nice and feel sturdy, here you really notice the difference between a 7-year old executive car and a new basic model. The doors on our own car make a lot more noise when you close them. It feels really spacey with people that are shorter than 1.80m fitting in the back perfectly fine and there is enough space to put your phone and other things in the front cabin space.

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We found a few things a bit of a pity. The big panoramic roof window only benefits people in the back since it starts very far back, basically on top of the headrests of the front passengers. The steering wheel is not the most comfortable for my hands, I found that while cornering I grab the wheel exactly in the corners, I would have preferred a circular wheel. The indicator sound is very artificial, I don't exactly know how it works in other cars, I assume with a switch that makes noise, but in the Cactus the indicator noise seems to come from the speaker system. The most disappointing was the quality of the touchscreen/infotainment. It feels a bit like a 70 Euro tablet, it takes a few taps to register (very annoying if you'd like to switch AC temp) and the resolution not great either. I find it hard to imagine what someone who buys it secondhand in 5 years must think.

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Handling

The car had the robotized manual (so it is automatic with flappy paddles) gearbox (ETG) and apparently we were driving the 1.6l 90BHP Diesel (it had 6 speeds, so must have been the diesel, even though I thought it was petrol). This gearbox is not something I'd recommend to someone who enjoys driving. My father has a 9 year old Citroën C2 and it feels exactly the same, with shifts not being timed properly and the car revving way too high before shifting while entering the highway. In city traffic and when actually at highway speeds it works great, I just don't like the way you have to get to highway speeds with it.

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The suspension is solid and the adaptive power steering makes it more stable on the road than the C6 which 'hunts' for tracks quite a bit on the tilted Norwegian roads (even straight roads undulate quite a bit here, because of the hills and not building the roads very deep). I find it a real pity the C6 did not come with adaptive power steering yet, it makes the Cactus feel very nippy in tight spaces and solid on the highway.

Conclusion

The C4 Cactus is a very nice car to look at and the interior gives the car a bigger feeling than it really is. The Cactus in about 1/5th of what a new C6 would have cost if it was still available and it is definitely more than half as good. If I were in the market for a functional car in this price range I would certainly take a good look since in Norway it is basically the same price as a Volkswagen Polo or a Renault Clio and you get a more spacious car for the money.

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