Citroen C4 Cactus review - Reliability and safety
Citroen reliability appears to be improving, but the C4 Cactus only has a four-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests
Citroen’s vision for the C4 Cactus was to remove anything that wasn’t entirely necessary; by offering pop-out rear windows, fewer buttons on the dash and no adjustability for the gearbox, steering and engine mapping, the company felt there was less that could go wrong. This is especially the case now the range and options lists have been trimmed down – the C4 Cactus is only available in one spec and, bar a blind spot monitoring assist and cosmetic options like paint colours, there’s little else you can add to the car.
Even so, the crossover offers most of the kit you’d expect from a thoroughly modern family car. Equipment such as a reversing camera, hill start assist, six airbags, tyre pressure monitors and cruise control all feature, so there’s still scope for gremlins to take hold.
A lot of the kinks should hopefully have been ironed out by now: after all, the C4 Cactus has been in production for a while, and it uses a lot of technology that’s been featured across multiple Citroen models. It sits on an extended version of the platform that underpins the Citroen C3 supermini, while the standard touchscreen is similar to the one found in the 308 hatch from sister brand Peugeot.
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The petrol engine is used across the Citroen range, and the 1.5 BlueHDi is a unit that's being added to a wide range of models, so will have been extensively tested to ensure its reliability.
The company has been trying hard to shake off its reputation for poor build quality and patchy reliability. Customer feedback from our Driver Power surveys indicates there has been some improvement, with Citroen finishing 24th out of 30 manufacturers in 2019 and moving up to 18th place in 2020. The C4 Cactus finished third from bottom, however, in our most recent Driver Power poll.
One byproduct of cutting 200kg from the kerbweight compared to the previous generation C4 hatch is that consumables such as the brake pads and tyres should function better for longer.
Unfortunately, by producing a simpler car, Citroen has achieved a disappointing result in Euro NCAP crash tests. The C4 Cactus scored only four out of five stars in the independent assessments when it was tested in 2014, with a low rating in the safety assist category.
Still, the rest of the Citroen’s standard safety kit is well up to the class benchmark, and includes six airbags, stability control and cruise control with a programmable speed limiter.
The C4 Cactus comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty. This isn’t much to shout about when Kia offers a seven-year/100,000-mile package, while the likes of Hyundai and Toyota provide five years’ cover with their new cars.
Citroen servicing is usually pretty cost-effective, and the C4 Cactus shouldn’t prove an exception being based on the firm’s supermini underneath. Dealers offer interest-free payment plans, too, so you can get two or three years’ worth of maintenance with fixed monthly instalments.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe C4 Cactus is a great left-field choice, combining a stand-out design with good levels of comfort and efficiency.
- 2Engines, performance and driveThere aren’t many engine choices, but they do the job. The smooth ride is excellent
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Citroen C4 Cactus claims strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, although depreciation could be heavy
- 4Interior, design and technologyEye-popping exterior design and touchscreen controls on the inside mean the C4 Cactus has plenty of style
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe C4 Cactus is a fairly roomy car, but some rivals have more storage and boot space
- 6Reliability and Safety - currently readingCitroen reliability appears to be improving, but the C4 Cactus only has a four-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests