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  • MilesDriven

Citroen C3 Cactus

Funky styling, and good luggage space, but the rest should have stayed on the drawing board.

Always being willing to call a duck a duck, its a cornerstone of reviewing a car, and before hammering into the failings of a manufacturer it's imperative to have a second look, with fresh eyes. I gave it five. After doing so I would recommend buying a Cactus only for people who would be mad enough to eat one. The interior quality is average at best but that’s forgivable in this price bracket. What isn’t forgivable is the lack of regard for driving position, visibility, and controls. I can't remember getting into a vehicle so poorly executed that I genuinely questioned whether Citroen was just having a laugh when they conceived it, or perhaps they had built the interior from a first sketch, and not bothered with testing. Eight separate attempts to move the seat and steering wheel into something close to a driving position failed, resulting in the oddity of being in motion whilst feeling sat at home in the reading chair you own solely for decoration whilst holding a Christmas reef at 10 to 2. Changing gear will leave you questioning whether or not to put in an application to the Oxbridge rowing teams, such is the yawning space in the soft pudding of a gearbox.

Positives will likely only be found in the eye of the beholder, much like a life coach looking at someone that gave up a decade ago and relishing the opportunity. The cargo space is good along with the rear passenger leg and headroom, nothing about the controls would pass as logical. The decision to route all controls through the infotainment was as inspired as the 1932 Australian Emu war. Both ending in miserable defeat and tropical heat, at least the poor buggers in Australia could retreat after a month, the heater in the Citroen won’t give up, and living with it for three years would be enough to make anyone give up and walk.

Comfort is good enough, anyone wanting a soft ride will like the Cactus but they’ll pay by having to take stabs in the dark when faced with a twisty country lane. The electric steering feels like sending a signal to mars before it is relayed in Chinese to a Frenchman that clocks off in five minutes.

If there was one positive, the fuel consumption on the petrol variant was good, but then again when you compromise acceleration, gear ratios, and refinement, it's the least you could expect. That may be a little unkind, initial power isn’t too bad, but rev the engine and it doesn’t give anything but a flatline all the way to the red. Accompanied by the docile tones of a washing machine on its final spin cycle.

If you’re still reading and hoping that redeeming features will rise from the ashes, I’m sorry to say there is little to report. The plus side is as baron as an angler's datebook, but there is plenty of competition at this price point. Don’t let the apparent small SUV appearance fool you, this is a hatchback with a high seat, if you need something that is easy to get in and out of a Mazda CX-3, Ford Puma or Dacia Ducia are better. If the lease is so cheap that you consider one of these take the figures to the competition and snap the salesman’s arm off for any price match deal. As a used buy you should give it a wider berth than a three wheel van with Trotter written on the side of it. The one I'm driving has clocked just 6,000 miles and feels like an old slipper. Citroen can do a lot better than this, and curiously they have delivered in the quirky alternatives sector of the market on previous attempts without trouble. The original Picasso was splendid and served its owners graciously. The C8 was a great option for those wanting to stand out in the office car park, and the Saxo heaped in buyers will the right mix of quick handling and cheap running costs. Hopefully, we'll see a return to form from Citroen the next time around.


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