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LIVING with a Citroen C4 Cactus you appreciate just how many there are on the roads – with cheery waves from drivers of other ‘Cactus community’ cars with the distinctive ‘air bumps’ along the sides.

Our test car’s colouring makes the black protection subtle while it’s more of a contrasting feature on the white and yellow ones – although it’s now available with white air bumps.

What you do appreciate is the overall practicality of the car, apart from feeling more at ease in the supermarket car park where car doors opened with verve by children are as big a threat to bodywork as runaway trolleys or badly steered buggies.

Cactus community

Low mileage – and 52.2mpg

All too often you can be blissfully unaware of battle scars until you come to give the car a careful wash – and in our household that is a thorough operation that has also brought a few smiley village comments about having the cleanest street surface in the county.

With a photographer son who hates dealing with paint swirl, one quickly learns to avoid machine brushes, preferring the therapeutic use of a handwash. This routine starts with a pre-soak with snow foam shampoo to lift the oily specks, fly spats and other gritty dirt as well as wheel brake dust and then a thorough lather rub down with the mitt.

After blasting clear with a jetwash, this is then followed by a handwash with a car wash solution – not a wash-and-wax – using a bucket with grit screen, then another jetwash rinse and finally wipe with drying cloth to avoid streaks and water marks.

Okay, it is then liable to rain within hours! But this regime does keep the car looking its best, whether it’s yours to be traded in or leased and to be handed back.

Cactus community

Tactile strap features on the dash match door pulls

Keeping the interior spotless can be a little more challenging with piano black gloss that seems to attract every speck of dust, but the Cactus’s practical cabin is generally easy to keep tidy. We love the robust ‘strap’ trim on the door pulls and dash – although it would be great to be able to lodge parking display tickets under the dash ‘straps’!

The only frustration is the fuel economy with a mix of short rural runs and longer trips with mix of motorway cruise and city crawls.

I’m not complaining at over 50mpg from the 1.6-litre turbo diesel, and it has crept up a bit from 51.3 to 52.2mpg, but that’s way short of the official 78.5mpg. However it’s still good for around 500 miles range, and more to the point, these first few thousand miles are early days of bedding in.

I once had a Motability Focus that steadfastly refused to return little more than mid-30s miles per gallon, however softly pedalled. And then, after it had clocked up 30,000 or so and was due for return, bingo – it was up to 43mpg, ready for the next lucky owner!

But back to the present and the Cactus: as a company car you’re looking at under £15 a week company car tax, under £30 with fuel. Now that’ll make you smile.

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 HDI 100 Flair – the figures

Doors and body style  Five-door hatchback
P11D: £18,140
Engine/gearbox: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder Euro 6 turbo diesel/5-speed manual gearbox
CO2 Emissions: 95g/km
Economy (combined) – official/actual: 78.5mpg/52.2mpg
Power/torque: 100PS/ 254Nm
0-62mph/top speed: 10.7secs/ 114mph
Company Car Tax band: 17%
Company car tax at 20% yearly/monthly: £617/£51.42
Company car tax at 40% yearly/monthly:  £1,234/£102.83
Insurance group:  19



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