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Citroen Cactus For Frankfurt

By raccars Published

Citroen has thrown the covers off its radical new small family hatchback concept, prior to an appearance at Frankfurt later this month. The bold looking concept is a preview of what to expect from the production version, due next year under the badge C4 Cactus and is an example of where Citroen sees the family hatchback market heading.

Style-wise, the Cactus is an adventurous mesh of market segments, with the rugged appearance and elevated ride height of an SUV, but the dimensions of a small family hatchback, such as a VW Golf. The concept is daringly open to the elements but the production version will happily be equipped with side and rear windows. However, one interesting element of the concept which will make production is the 'Airbump,' lateral plastic panels filled with air that are designed to cushion the car's flanks against the trials of everyday urban driving. This is pretty effective stuff too, tested by Citroen's engineers hurling a shopping trolley full of car batteries into it...

While the Airbump styling won't be to everyone's taste, buyers can specify either a contrasting or matching colourway, to highlight or diminish its aesthetic impact. The idea has also been floated at Citroen HQ of offering Airbump retrofits, so that those buying a used Cactus can choose a different cosmetic finish if they wish. The concept's elevated DRL position and extrovert wheel arch styling will also be retained for the production version.

The cabin is as audacious as the exterior, furnished with a single front bench seat and minimal dashboard. The theory behind this design is sociability and space optimisation. However, it's unclear quite how this will translate to production, to allow the two front seats to adjust and adapt position independently. The front armrest is likely to facilitate this.

The single, central colour infotainment touchscreen that is fast becoming ubiquitous is of course present, although entry level models could receive an analogue alternative. In fact, the only buttons to be seen select the transmission between Drive, Reverse and Park and a mandatory by law hazard warning light switch. The transmission will be a five speed manual unit.

The C4 Cactus will share the C4 Picasso's chassis and probably its engine range too, along with a hybrid option, as seen on the concept. While Citroen is campaigning the car on its practicality, it's simple as in effortless, not in execution. Its build quality means it won't be cheap. With no pricing announced so far, industry rumour swirls around the £14,000 starting price of the standard C4.

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