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Future models - Citroen - C4 Cactus

Paris show: Citroen C4 Cactus confirmed for Australia

Coming to Australia: Citroen's unusually styled C4 Cactus protects itself with air-filled pads on the doors – not spikes.

Oddball French hatch due later next year is expected to re-energise the brand

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Citroen logo7 Oct 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in PARIS

CITROEN’S product-led revival in Australia will receive a massive boost next year with the release of the oddball C4 Cactus five-door hatchback.

Originally intended as a Europe-only model, the Peugeot 208-based small car’s extraordinary consumer reaction has prompted the French car-maker to pitch it further afield than first planned.

While the Cactus is larger than the 208, it sits above the ageing C3 light car and below the regular C4 small car in Citroen’s armoury.

Pricing estimates put the Spanish-built hatch at under $20,000, meaning it ought to undercut the similarly sized C4 by about $2000. However, importers Sime Darby reckon it is too early to tell.

With simple geometric design described as “anti style” and an austere interior presentation, the Cactus has struck a chord with consumers on the Continent, particularly those who may have never considered purchasing a Citroen before.

According to Sime Darby, it represents a great opportunity to broaden the appeal of the century-old brand in a way that is affordable enough to lure younger buyers.

“We think the Cactus would really appeal to Australian consumers,” says Citroen Australian sales manager, Dimitri Andreatidis.

“It has the potential to lift the image of the brand significantly. I can’t wait to see it in Australia.”

Among a litany of defining features are plastic trims on the side of the car, containing “air bumps” that are designed to deflect minor impacts from adjacent vehicle doors.

Inside the look is pared back yet adventurous, with a tablet-style screen perched in the centre of a low dash cowl, long hammock-style seat cushions, ‘60s style door pulls, and lots of exposed storage pockets.

What would have been considered spartan a generation ago is now regarded as simple chic, particularly as there are multitude ways of personalising the car in the same way a Mini can be.

Interestingly all airbags are roof mounted – a world-first for a production car, which liberates dashboard space and boosts practicality.

Interestingly, the rear door windows pop out rather than wind down, highlighting the low-cost philosophy behind the Cactus.

European versions are powered by a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder petrol or 1.6L four-cylinder HDi turbo-diesel engines, but it is understood an Australian variant could have a 1.2L turbo triple with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Grand C4 Picasso has led a revitalised Citroen range in Australia this year to become the brand’s equal best-selling model alongside the Berlingo van.

Overall sales are up 5.5 per cent year to date.

Beating the Cactus to market next year will be the smaller C4 Picasso wagon (quarter one) and facelifted DS3 (second quarter), while an all-new third-generation C3 is expected to surface in France sometime during 2016.

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