As faithful readers of these columns know, we are very fond of the C4 Cactus. We like its interior, its clean instrumentation, its original seating. We are are also quite fond of its bodywork styling, its "cushions" on doors and corners. That is not all. We love its suspension, its long legged cruising abilities, the way it lets you travel fast and far.
Until now, we had tested the smooth and powerful petrol 3 cylinder engine, and this also impressed us. We were keen to discover the Diesel engine, and this in combination with the sequential 6 speed auto box. Just read on...
Hans knol ten Bensel
French car makers have acquired a vast experience in making (very) good diesels, and the 1,6 e HDi amply proves this point. Excellent torque and power right from low revs, exceptionally frugal, these are its strong points. In the lightweight C4 Cactus, the unit is well audible when cold, but driving the Citroën at speed when it has reached its operating temperature is a rather smooth affair. Its overall eagerness and pulling power make the C4 Cactus a vivid and well performing car, and when this power stream would reach the front wheels uninterrupted, the C4 Cactus would really have uncanny panache.
But then the sequential auto box needs a masterful hand and/or foot to transmit all this fine power in a nice way.
The smoothness and timing of the gear changes can be influenced by an expert driver, who has acquired a longstanding driving experience with the car.
But it needs a lot of concentration and feeling for less experienced mortals, as we are. The timing of the gearchanges takes getting used to, and when one does not lift the throttle in tune with the gearchange rhythm of the box, a somewhat jerky progress is the result.
The answer is to drive the Cactus rather slowly, using very little power, which quite logically smoothens out the gearchanges.
Using the paddles when shifting up helps greatly too. One can leave the box and the paddles well alone when slowing down, as the box then changes down automatically.
Of course, the gearbox is very efficient, and combined with the low weight of the C4 Cactus, consumption is quite low indeed. It was rather easy to stay well below 5 litres/100 km.
With the 92 hp, the Cactus is lively. Accelerating from 0 to 100 km costs 11,4 seconds, and Citroen claims a top speed of 182 km/h. Needless to say it holds very well its own on fast “autoroutes”, and will maintain fast cruising speeds without any effort on any motorway hill...Torque is plentiful, with 230 Nm, and CO2 emissions are very good with 92 g/km.
The cabin layout of the Cactus seduced us very much again, and an extra attraction of the auto box is the comfortable front bench which we came to enjoy very much.
Indeed, we just love the fresh "ambiente" of the Cactus, full of "Génie Français" in a combination with British clean and timeless design language.
The powerful and frugal diesel is certainly an asset for the C4 Cactus, making it a car with “Gran Turismo” talents. The car deserves a state of the art dual clutch automatic of the latest generation however, which will deliver a smooth and uninterrupted power stream to the front wheels. It would make the C4 Cactus even more attractive, we like it already that much...
Hans Knol ten Bensel