Citroen C4 Cactus vs Nissan Juke: crossover clash

The Nissan Juke is the biggest-selling compact crossover in the UK. Buyers can’t seem to get enough of the British-built mini SUV’s unique style and charm. In such a crowded market, however, there are many compelling alternatives.

Need something more rugged to cope with occasional off-roading? The Suzuki Vitara should be perfect. After a little more space and class-leading build quality? Try the Skoda Yeti. But what if the Juke isn’t quite distinctive enough? Perhaps the Citroen C4 Cactus might be the car for you?

The charming little Citroen has received plenty of praise from critics for its low running costs and easy-going feel from behind the wheel, but how does it compare to the Nissan? Put either the Citroen C4 Cactus or the Nissan Juke in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save.

Styling

On approaching either the Cactus or the Juke, it’s clear that both cars score very highly in the quirkiness stakes – the Cactus for its innovative, original design features and the Juke for its unusual proportions and wacky styling details.

Some of the Citroen’s flourishes, such as the roof rails and plastic ‘Airbumps’, serve a practical purpose, too – the former allows roof boxes to be mounted easily, while the latter helps to prevent parking dings from clumsily opened doors.

The Juke, meanwhile is covered in sharp creases mixed with curvy lines. At the front, the angular headlights sit above a pair of round spotlights while, at the back, a rakish roofline slopes towards tail lights that mimic the shape of those at the front. Along the sides, large door mirrors (which are great for rear visibility) and exaggerated wheelarches complete the Juke’s SUV-aping look.

Both are certain to divide opinion, but it’s hard to deny that few other cars which will attract so much attention for the money…

Interior

The Citroen’s clever touches continue inside. To reduce complication (and therefore unnecessary weight), the rear windows hinge outwards rather than winding down, while the door pulls are simple fabric straps. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system sits atop the dash, and controls functions for the heating, radio and – where equipped – satellite navigation. It’s intuitive to use, and helps keep the dashboard clear of fussy-looking buttons.

The Nissan is a little more conventional inside, though the cabin can be livened up with optional brightly coloured trim and seat stitching to match the exterior paint colours. The stylish three-spoke steering wheel and high transmission tunnel help give a cosy, sporty feel from the driver’s seat.

Neither car is much larger than a regular supermini, so they’re never going to be the most spacious inside. Both have fairly low rooflines, so rear headroom is tight. The Cactus just edges the Juke for boot volume (at 358 versus 354 litres). If you opt for the Nissan’s four-wheel-drive system, that figure drops dramatically to just 207 litres.

Driving

On the road, the two cars differ vastly in character. The Cactus is a soft, relaxing car to drive. There is quite a pronounced level of body roll through turns which, combined with slow steering encourages the driver to settle down to a more relaxing pace, at which point the smooth ride can be appreciated even better.

By contrast, the Juke features a firm and sporty suspension setup, which allows it to be thrown around corners in a way its raised centre of gravity might not suggest. The steering is sharp and precise, too. It isn’t as comfortable as the Citroen, but it is more fun. The sporty Nismo RS variant features wider tyres and an even firmer set up which helps it deliver prodigious levels of grip.

Both models take some flak from testers for their sub-par automatic gearboxes. In terms of manual options, the Juke’s offering is more positive to use than the rather rubbery ‘box in the C4.

Engines

As you might expect based on each car’s character from behind the wheel, the Juke offers the more potent engine lineup of the two cars, while the Cactus’ range is biased more towards fuel efficiency.

The 1.6-litre diesel fitted to the Citroen is claimed to return 83.1mpg – that’s 12.5mpg more than the Juke and its Renault-sourced 1.5-litre unit can achieve. Even petrol versions of the Cactus can return 61.4mpg. These results are due to its very low kerb weight, meaning many of its engines can return significantly better mpg figures while achieving a similar straight line speed to the Nissan.

If performance is the top priority though, the Juke is the one to have. Not just if the choice is between Nissan and Citroen, either – the Juke is the most potent mini-crossover on sale. Moderately quick versions of the Juke feature a 190hp 1.6-litre turbocharged unit, good for a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds, while the Nismo models are faster still. Sharing a version of the engine fitted to the RenaultSport Clio, the Juke Nismo RS produces 215hp, and will cover the 0-62mph sprint in just seven seconds.

Value for money

If your budget is the priority, the Citroen is the car to have. The basic 1.2-litre petrol is 4.9mpg more frugal than the 1.6-litre Juke and costs £630 less to buy. The most basic Cactus lacks air conditioning, so it might be worth stretching to the next model up, which gains alloy wheels too.

Despite losing out to the Citroen in the value stakes, the Juke is still cheaper to buy than the likes of the Ford EcoSport. Sporty Nismo models are priced marginally higher than traditional hot hatches like the Peugeot 208 GTI.

Verdict

Both the Citroen C4 Cactus and the Nissan Juke are distinctive choices in their own right. Both take very different approaches, and the one you prefer will probably come down to personal taste. If you’re keen on a sharp, sporty SUV-styled Ford Fiesta alternative, the Juke is the car to go for. If, however, you prefer your next car to feel a little more relaxing, the Cactus is the better option.

On balance, however, the Citroen’s superior value for money and low running costs should make it the more suitable choice for most buyers.

Save money on your Citroen C4 Cactus or Nissan Juke

Put either the Citroen C4 Cactus or the Nissan Juke in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you’re still searching for your ideal next car, check out our car chooser.

Citroen C4 Cactus

A comfortable and quirky small crossover
7.6
£13,260 - £20,765
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Nissan Juke

Eye-catching SUV is fun to drive and cheap to run
6.9
£14,320 - £26,810
RRP
Read review Compare offers
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