FRANKFURT, Germany – Citroen hopes its upcoming C4 Cactus will wean car buyers away from traditional vehicle designs, particularly the interiors, that have been the mainstay of the market but now are losing market share.
The C4 Cactus, which goes on sale next year, is an attempt to be pure, to offer no more to the driver and passengers than “what really counts,” says Pierre Monferrini, product manager-Citroen C-line.
The car unveiled at the auto show here is similar to the production model, he says. The Airbump side panels that protect the body from parking-lot dings and dents won’t have light-emitting-diodes like the concept, and the gangsteresque windows won’t be quite so chopped.
But the C4 Cactus will have the concept’s horizontal top that recalls the Mini and DS3, and the same “look at me” exterior design. Although the concept is more compact than the C4, it is a little taller and the high shoulder line adds to the perception of robustness and security, Monferrini says.
The road car will have the dual headlights that the C4 Picasso introduced and the show car’s uncluttered interior, with most of the passenger-compartment buttons and switches replaced by a large touchscreen.
This C4 Cactus is the second model to bear that name. In 2007, Citroen showed a Cactus concept that was brutally stripped to the essentials, eliminating such things as window controls. “That was extreme,” says Monferrini. “People want a large touchscreen for navigation that is easy to use. (But) we have stopped the race for always having more in a car.”
The production model, as with the concept, will be more compact than the C4 with which it shares a name. But Thomas d’Heussy, Citroen product manager, says the Cactus is “not a one-off product.”
Future Citroens in the C-Line, conventional cars as opposed to the upscale Citroen DS line, will follow the general idea of concentrating features on what really counts in each segment. “People place less importance on power and more on usefulness,” d’Heussy says. “They say they want to put their money towards things that are important to them.”
The concept at the show is shown with PSA Peugeot Citroen’s 82-hp gasoline engine linked to its hybrid air technology that uses a hydraulic motor to reduce fuel consumption. The car will launch with small gasoline and diesel engines with excellent fuel economy, says Monferrini. No decision has been made yet on when or if the hybrid air will be added.
The only real new technology on the show car is Airbump, a system of air bubbles trapped between sheets of tough plastic that will protect doors and bumpers from minor damage. The Airbumps will come in a variety of colors, as will the cars.
A particularly showy color has been chosen for the launch of the C4 Cactus next June, Monferrini says. Dealers who saw the car just before the Frankfurt show opened to the media approved the launch color unanimously, which is not always the case.
Monferrini declines to reveal the color, but a French website says it is a luminescent yellow-green.