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Frankfurt show: Citroen previews future with Cactus

Air blower: The Cactus is powered by Citroen’s Hybrid Air system that combines a petrol engine with a compressed air propulsion system.

Citroen’s ‘Hybrid Air’ Cactus concept offers a sneak peak at the next C-line model


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6 Sep 2013

CITROEN has previewed the future design of its C-line models with the chunky Cactus concept that will debut at the Frankfurt motor show next week.

The hatch/crossover concept is powered by PSA’s ‘Hybrid Air’ powertrain and elements of the design are likely to end up on the first of the new-generation entry-level C-line models.

Measuring 4210mm long, 1750mm wide and 1530mm high, Citroen says the Cactus has the dimensions of a compact hatchback, which suggests it could preview a replacement for the C3 light hatch.

These dimensions, and a 210mm ground clearance, place the Cactus somewhere between a compact hatch such as the current-generation C3 and a light crossover like the Nissan Dualis.

Citroen says the rounded design of the Cactus is “original yet familiar” and features a floating roof and rear quarter panels with gloss black roof racks.

The door panels and bumpers feature something Citroen calls ‘Airbump’, which is a soft grey detail designed to resist scratches and includes air capsules that can absorb impacts.

The quirky Cactus features short overhangs, no B-pillars or side windows, a chunky front bumper and smooth surfaces on the nose to emphasise the French brand’s iconic twin-chevron badge.

Some elements of the design, including the separated dual headlight arrangement and 3D tail-lights were influenced by the C4 Picasso that was shown in concept form at the Geneva motor show earlier this year.

The 2013 Cactus is an evolution of the bug-eyed C-Cactus diesel-hybrid concept that Citroen revealed six years ago at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show.

Citroen has designed the cabin to have a retro-yet-futuristic feel, with the inclusion of an all-digital interface with a seven-inch screen replacing the instrument cluster while an eight-inch touchscreen in the centre stack houses controls for everything from air conditioning to driver aids.

The driver and passenger seats have been left out in favour of a “lounge style” front bench seat and a gearstick is replaced by controls on the lower part of the dash. Due to the slimline dash, Citroen has moved the passenger side airbag from under the dashboard to the ceiling.

A thermally-treated sunroof lets sunlight in but keeps heat and harmful UV rays out, while the cabin is bathed in ‘camel’ coloured leather and cotton.

Citroen is using the Cactus to showcase its Hybrid Air technology that combines a small turbocharged petrol engine with a compressed air propulsion system that is capable of fuel economy as low as 2.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

The Hybrid Air power kicks in at speeds under 70km/h, and the system can adapt the operating mode to suit the driver, with a choice of Zero Emissions Vehicle mode, petrol internal combustion and combined.

Spy pics of what appears to be a Cactus undergoing hot weather testing hit the web this week, meaning a production-ready version could be revealed soon.

The French car-maker’s future model strategy involves boosting the profile of its DS line of vehicles as premium offerings, while repositioning future C-line models as entry-level vehicles targeted at price-conscious buyers.

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