Why I Secretly Want a Citroen C4 Cactus

Don't tell anybody, but I might secretly have a thing for a really strange Citroen called the C4 Cactus. I haven't driven one yet, which makes this unrequited love even more embarrassing to talk about, but ever since I saw it at the beginning of the year… I don't know, there's just something about.
The keys to 300 horsepower sportscars fly around the office like so many summer mosquitoes, but you can never allow yourself to be taken with any of these creatures, not when you know what they cost. The Citroen is different, it's both appealing and cheap, as rare an occurance as a teenager without a Facebook account. Once you see how small and funky it is in person… instant love story, especially in a vibrant neon color.

People often joke, saying that in the auto industry there's the right way and the French way. I usually agree with that, being a huge fan of the German brands, especially the premium ones. But once in a while, somebody throws an oddball that's a clear home run. The bubble wrap protecting the doors and the spartan interior really do it for me. Mind you, this editor might have strange taste in cars, being among the few who actually loves the look of a BMW X4 and Nissan Juke.

PSA is re-positioning the Citroen brand as a entry division right now, which effectively means the C4 Cactus is a rival to the Dacia Duster. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it's really not. Building a car to a specific budget is really hard, but the French have been doing it for many years and they're getting really good at it. Citroen are probably the only car brand in Europe that can make a cheap car that's still quirky and interesting to look at.

While its design ticks all the boxes, the Cactus' underpinning worry me. Citroen has not built a good gearbox in years and the only engines you can have with the crossover are a 1.2 VTi petrol and a 1.6 diesel. Heck, even Dacia offers a turbo petrol engine nowadays! But I believe all cars should have flaws that we can learn to live with, otherwise they're forgettable washing machine with wheels. The reviews I've stumbled upon so far suggest the 100 hp diesel with a manual is the best thing to have and its specs  definitely hold water.

"So you want to buy a cheap French car that's awkward to look at and is probably rubbish to drive? That's nonsense!" – you, my imaginary reader who I'm talking to in my head, are absolutely right. It makes no sense at all to want a Citroen with lots of flaws that reminds me of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it's not the only car of this type in the world.

I guess the best way to explain why I'm interested in the Cactus is to point at the Fiat 500. If you examine it logically, the tiny Italian car makes absolutely no sense. It's too small, too expensive, too cute and especially too Italian. And yet over a million fine folks have bought one, not because they have to but because they want to.

That's an important point to make, since General Motors went bankrupt making cars that people needed but never wanted. But before I get totally sidetracked and end up on a different continent, this story needs a clear conclusion.

Top Gear says you're not a true petrolhead until you've owned an Alfa Romeo. Scrap that idea! I say that you haven't truly lived until you've owned a French car.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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