The Cactus isn’t as spiky and edgy to drive as it sounds, but you can indeed have fun behind the wheel.
The star of the show here is the 109hp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which sounds pleasant and pulls the Cactus’ light body along nicely. It’s claimed to get fuel economy of 61.4mpg, but you’ll rarely see that if you drive mainly in town or with a loaded car.
There are also 74hp and 81hp petrol units, but they feel underpowered compared to the high-tech range-topper and aren’t much cheaper to run.
The Cactus prioritises comfort over sporty handling and does a fine job of it
The 1.6-litre diesel offers fuel economy of 83.1mpg, but it’s more expensive to buy than the 109hp petrol and doesn’t feel as eager to accelerate. It’s also quite vocal on acceleration which is at odds with the rest of the driving experience which is quite hushed overall.
If you order a Cactus with a manual gearbox then you’ll have to suffer a cheap-feeling gear knob and incredible amounts of slack, while the automated manual isn’t a better alternative to the sloppy manual and that should say enough.
The Cactus is pretty light – low-spec petrol-engined cars weigh around 1,000kg and that results in some impressive fuel economy. What the low weight should also do is make the Citroen go into corners more easily and feel more agile than the competition as a result. However, the soft suspension fitted to the Cactus and the vague controls make spirited driving all but impossible.
That is not to say you can’t have fun behind the wheel. In a nostalgic way, the Cactus wallows around corners on skinny tyres just as Citroens of old did and you can have a pretty good time blasting through country lanes, rarely breaking the speed limit, but breaking the traction limit pretty frequently.