SIZE matters – but when you want a car to be roomy inside you’ll have to appreciate that it’s likely to be a little larger outside, which brought me to the Citroen C4 Cactus garage challenge.
Cars have grown over the years, not just upwards as with the current growing trend for SUVs, but sideways too.
Most of that is due to enhanced crash protection. It’s a few years since VW announced that the Polo had outgrown the original Golf, and nothing makes the point more than the modern MINI hatch compared with its classic forbear.
What brings it home is parking (and I won’t mention the domestic garage). How often do you finally find a space, smugly park in it and then realise you won’t actually be able to get out of your car and have to sheepishly ease out to seek something roomier and hope you don’t return to find a 4×4 snuggled in beside, parked up to the lines.
In the quest for parking in town, it’s a cash-saving treat when someone says you can have their allocated space. But look before you leap, it can bring its challenges such as when I was generously offered use of an old garage.
Thanks to the assistance of the Cactus’s brilliant standard combination of radar and parking camera I got the 5ft 8in wide Citroen in okay through the old standard 7ft doorway.
But it took some more jiggling before I could ensure I was able to squeeze out without brushing the car’s distinctive plastic door protection panel against the concrete wall. Cactus garage challenge completed!
However the boon of the Cactus is its flexible capacity. It is roomy with broad seats in the front, giving plenty of leg and lumbar support, and the rear seats folding down for large loads (or emergency access in that cramped car park!)
For practicality too the boot is great when you have a big buggy or wheelchair to load. Never mind golf bags, a wheelchair is a real test of loadspace and you would be amazed at the number of ‘family’ cars where you either have to remove the parcel shelf or fold forward a rear seat. Not in the Cactus though!
The one frustration of this 95g/km eco warrior is that the official combined economy of 78mpg still seems a dream too far. However gently I drive, slickly changing up when advised on the dash display – sadly it doesn’t say when best to drop down a cog which can bring some scrabbling through the ‘box when there’s not enough grunt for a ‘go’ moment – the computer seems locked on one consumption figure.
The 52.2mpg overage economy displayed almost since day one refuses to change – it’s good, but my real world return’s far short of that official target. Let’s see if it can improve in its final stint.