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Future models - Citroen - C4 Cactus

C4 Cactus decision looming for Citroen

Prickly question: The C4 Cactus features unique plastic ‘Airbumps’ that are designed to protect the side of the car from light impacts.

Citroen Australia confident of local berth for C4 Cactus but C4 Picasso on hold

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Citroen logo27 Feb 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

CITROEN Automobiles Australia is still in discussions with its French parent company about importing the off-beat C4 Cactus crossover, but is confident of securing the car for a local debut around early 2015.

The C4 Cactus is Citroen’s first entrant in the burgeoning sub-compact SUV segment that already includes the Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke and sister company Peugeot’s 2008. Renault’s Captur arrives mid-year.

Citroen Automobiles Australia national marketing manager Manuel Tyras said discussions with parent company PSA that commenced late last year are continuing and looking positive.

“I hate putting promises on when we think a car will be released,” he said. “We just want to make sure we get the right car and then when we get the right car we will know when it will be released.”

While a decision on the fate of the car in Australia is not far off, Mr Tyras said it made sense for the niche brand to enter the segment given its rapid growth in recent years.

“It’s a growing segment and it is forecast to grow at phenomenal rates. It makes sense to be in that segment. It brings a younger buyer into our market.

“We have got DS-line which is more premium but now you are going to have something that is a lot more fun and really accessible and so I think it will bring a totally different buyer with those same attitudes about being non-conventional because it is a non-conventional car.”

The small SUV segment in Australia grew by 21.1 per cent last year and now commands a market share of 6.1 per cent with the Hyundai ix35 the top seller in the segment on 19,098 sales to the end of December.

Should the C4 Cactus get the green light for Australia, Mr Tyras said Citroen is unlikely to try and compete with models such as the Trax and Juke on price.

Instead it will follow the strategy it has employed for the new Grand C4 Picasso people-mover of including greater levels of standard equipment.

Pricing for the Trax ranges between $23,490 and $27,990 plus on-road costs, while the EcoSport kicks off from $20,790 and tops out at $25,790, meaning the C4 Cactus could start from high $20,000s or possibly low $30,000s.

Mr Tyras addressed criticism of the Cactus name which is an Australian slang term that means something is not working or is dead, adding that it is unlikely to get a name change if it comes here.

“C4 Cactus is imprinted everywhere on the car. It is moulded into the plastic Airbumps, it is what it is. I don’t think there is an issue with the name at all.” The Cactus was first seen in concept form at last year’s Frankfurt motor show and Citroen has remained faithful to the off-beat design of the crossover which was revealed in production guise in early February.

Based on the same platform as the C3 light hatch but carrying similar dimensions to the larger C4, the Cactus will be available in Europe with a choice of PSA’s latest-generation petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines.

Earlier this week, Citroen’s Australian arm ruled out a local berth for the tiny C1 sub-light hatch that was outed ahead of its Geneva debut, with Mr Tyras saying that end of the market is “not a category we want to play in.” The Grand C4 Picasso’s smaller five-seat Picasso sibling which was also on local distributor Sime Darby’s radar several months back is still a chance for the Australian market, but Mr Tyras said it would have to offer buyers something different.

“It’s still under consideration. We are able to get that car. It comes down to where does it fit into the line-up and what we can offer Australians that they haven’t seen before. If we work that out, we will bring it in, if it doesn’t work for Australia, then we won’t,” he said.

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