Citroën Cactus car review – ‘Its metier is rugged jaunts across tricky terrain’

Bright red seatbelts look like ceremonial sashes: my kid has become an ambassador

Having a Citroën Cactus is a bit like painting your house pink; it sounds extraordinary and daring; it looks it for a while, but since you’re mostly inside it rather than outside, it’s your neighbours who have to live with it. I’m talking mainly about the side panels: bubbly sheets whose purpose was never plain to begin with. The Rip Curl keeps the panels and adds a number of driving modes (snow, sand, slipperiness), to ensure you’re ready for more than just bumping into things: you can now bump into things that are also driving on sand. It’s not obvious what the point is, for those of us not planning to reinvade Africa. It does have a mud setting, though, so is not totally inappropriate for the British weather.

That is its metier: rugged jaunts across tricky terrain. Round town, it doesn’t get much chance to show off, though it does have a pleasing interior. The driver’s seat is armchair-roomy, like going to a posh cinema. Bright red seatbelts give everyone the look of wearing a ceremonial sash, which can be discombobulating, especially when you catch your kids in the rear-view and try to remember when you made them the Icelandic ambassador. Heavily stylised stitching and natty door pulls make you feel as though you’re sitting inside 1930s luggage. The younger passengers were unimpressed with the pop-out back windows and moaned constantly about not being able to stick their heads out. (It was like being able to hear the internal monologue of a dog.) The satnav was so sluggish that on roundabouts you just had to get used to being told to take the exit you’d just passed.

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