When it comes to the redesigned Citroën C4 Cactus, the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind – instead of any radical changes, the C4 Cactus gets a mid-life upgrade that plays to its strengths, and even improves them.
The end result is an impressive treat that lives up to the claims, and is a pleasure to drive, not least thanks to its silky-smooth suspension.
When Citroën launched the original C4 Cactus in 2014, they ripped up the ‘conventional’ rulebook for what a mid-size SUV should be like.
Instead, the French manufacturing giant brought to the market a truly individual, ultra-comfortable, practical and somewhat quirky offering.
However, the C4 Cactus has been on sale for four years now, and Citroën has decided to give it a facelift in order to keep the car fresh and appealing.
The new Cactus is another sign of Citroën returning to its brand values and trying to makes its cars stand out. The front gets a new grille, bumper and chrome trim leading from the Citroën badge to the daytime-running lights, while the rear has larger, horizontal lights.
As it is a mid-life update and not a brand-new model, it still uses the original car’s brilliant Peugeot 208 and DS3 platform, but there is a new type of suspension.
It is called Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC) suspension and it adds a pair of hydraulic dampers into each suspension corner.
In so doing, it replaces the rubber bump stops used on most cars of this type, including the outgoing C4 Cactus.
Because the dampers cushion the wheel travel at the top and at the bottom of the coil suspension unit, Citroën has been able to fit softer springs and dampers.
In so doing, a ‘magic carpet ride’ feeling has been achieved, says the firm.
It is a daring claim, but I can honestly say that Citroën is telling the truth.
During my week-long test drive, I found the suspension does its best work on uneven road surfaces – the wheels stick to the road and the car feels like it floats from crest to crest.
Three trim levels are available in the new Citroën C4 Cactus; entry-level Touch, mid-spec Feel and range-topping Flair, while the engine line-up consists of a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder PureTech petrol engine with either 110bhp or 130bhp, and a turbo-diesel 1.6-litre BlueHDi with 110bhp.
My test car was a range-topping Flair model with a 1.2-litre 130bhp petrol engine mated to a slick 6-speed manual gearbox.
This is a new engine for the Cactus but it has been used in a variety of Peugeot, Citroën and DS models for some time, and is a well-proven engine.
With an impressive 230Nm of torque available, this punchy engine propels the new Cactus from 0-100km/h in just 8.2-seconds, leading to a top speed of 192km/h (where permitted).
Well-weighted and accurate steering in the new Cactus is confidence-inspiring and makes the car fun to drive and more refined than ever.
Claimed fuel consumption of just 4.8l/100km on a combined driving cycle is terrific, while annual road tax is just €190.
All models come with a 7” colour touchscreen with FM/DAB radio, cruise control with speed limiter, suspension with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and air-conditioning, while the Feel model benefits from the addition of 17” diamond-cut ‘cross’ alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, Citroën Advanced Comfort Seats and Android Auto with Apple CarPlay.
The range-topping Flair specification also includes front parking sensors, Active Safety Brake, Citroën Connect Nav, keyless entry with push-button start and electric folding door mirrors.
The design remains delightfully different and the vast majority of functions are controlled via the standard-fit seven-inch infotainment system.
Interior space remains the same, with adequate space in the back for three passengers and generous head, leg and shoulder room in the front, too.
Boot space is excellent, with 368-litres of space available with the rear seats in place and 1,170-litres on offer with the rear seats folded.
However, practicality is better than before, thanks to the inclusion of a 60:40 split-folding rear bench for the first time.
Overall, the new Citroën C4 Cactus builds on the original car’s unique personality, while adding more conventional styling, extensive suspension updates and a dose of extra refinement into the mix.
Ex-works prices for the new Citroën Cactus start at just €19,995, while my range-topping test car is priced at €25,795.
Citroën’s 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty is the real icing on the cake.