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Citroen’s clever C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen has found clever ways to make its new C4 Cactus an unconventional and affordable alternative to hatchbacks that dominate Europe’s compact segment.

The so-called Airbumps on the car’s sides and bumpers are supposed to reduce repair costs by protecting the bodywork from minor collisions. Citroen also cut development costs by using parent PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s PF1 platform that underpins the smaller C3 and Peugeot 208 subcompacts.

At 4160mm long, however, the C4 Cactus is a compact car despite its small-car underpinnings.

Citroen CEO Linda Jackson said the C4 Cactus helps the brand resume “what we were always extremely good at, which was designing cars that offer an innovative difference.”

The C4 Cactus weighs as little as 985kg, about 200kg less than a comparable C4. To reduce weight, the C4 Cactus has pop-out rear windows instead of sliding windows, which saves 11kg.

Will the C4 Cactus be a big seller?

Buyers will either love or hate the quirky design. Analysts expect annual global sales to be between 50,000 and 100,000, although Citroen’s plant near Madrid, Spain, has annual capacity of 200,000 units for the car.

Is it affordable?

At 13,950 euros, Citroen is pricing the car 10 percent to 15 percent lower than its compact rivals but expects the average transaction price to be 16,000 to 17,000 euros, increasing to 22,250 euros for the diesel version.

How do the Airbumps work?

Developed by PSA and German chemicals giant BASF, the Airbumps are tough air-filled polyurethane panels. They protect the bodywork from damage caused by collisions at speeds below 4kph and from minor knocks, for example from doors of other vehicles or shopping carts in parking lots.

What are the Airbumps’ life cycle?

Citroen says the panels are guaranteed for the vehicle’s life cycle. There are four Airbump colors (black, brown, beige and gray) that can be combined with 10 body colors.

Any new technology?

The front-passenger airbag is in the headliner, which means that the glove compartment has a hefty 120-liter capacity. The car has a USB port for Internet connection via a USB 3G stick.

The single-piece folding rear bench saves another 6kg. The car’s so-called Magic Wiper has holes in the wiper blades and diffuses water with more precision than regular wiper blades. This saves another 1.5kg because the windshield washer tank only needs to store half as much fluid as tanks in cars with regular wipers.

Other weight savings came from the lightweight platform, lightweight engine hood, aluminum front and rear beams and lightweight three-cylinder gasoline engines.