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Future models - Citroen - C4 Cactus - Mehari

Frankfurt show: Citroen set to strip Cactus bare

Back then: The Citroen Mehari was launched in 1968 as a tough, light and agile workhorse – characteristics that are likely to be replicated in the new Cactus-based concept to be revealed at Frankfurt.

Citroen to go back to the future with Cactus-based ‘Mehari’ off-roader concept

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Citroen logo12 Aug 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

CITROEN is set to exhibit a no-frills, stripped-down, lightweight concept version of its quirky C4 Cactus SUV at next month’s Frankfurt motor show.

The French company says the vehicle will “revisit the spirit” of the utilitarian, plastic-panelled Citroen Mehari – Citroen’s answer to the Mini Moke – that went into production in 1968, finding favour with the French military and cult car fans over a 20-year lifespan.

European reports suggest Citroen is serious about bringing back the Mehari, complete with a folding roof, but the French car-maker is remaining tight-lipped.

It is unclear if the born-again Mehari is on the sales radar of Citroen Australia as part of the C4 Cactus crossover range, that is set to spearhead Citroen’s growth plans in this market once it lands in local showrooms late this year or in early 2016.

With its unique polyurethane “airbump” protective panels, the Cactus set tongues wagging when it appeared at the Frankfurt motor show in concept form two years ago.

Now headed down the production line in Spain, the small five-door Cactus wagon is front-wheel drive, as was the 2CV-based Mehari for the first decade of its model-life.

A 4x4 version of Mehari was introduced in 1979, reportedly exhibiting outstanding off-road abilities, thanks to its all-wheel grip, long suspension travel and light (570kg) mass.

The standard C4 Cactus is incredibly light, weighing in at about one tonne, meaning the cloth-top Mehari version will likely be one of the lightest off-roaders in the world.

While the original Mehari was powered by the Citroen 2CV’s 602cc flat twin petrol engine, the latter day version might get PSA’s acclaimed three-cylinder petrol engine and – for Europe – an alternative 1.6-litre HDI turbo diesel.

Joining the “Mehari” on the Citroen standard at Frankfurt from September 15 will be the Aircross concept that had its first airing at the Shanghai motor show in April.

Larger than Cactus, the Jeep Cherokee-sized five-door SUV is also expected to form a major plank in Citroen’s sales growth platform in Australia at some point.

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