Driven: 2016 Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl Review
I had a bit of time to test out the new Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl for awhile, and here are my thoughts on the car.
What is the Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl all About?
Citroen is not a manufacturer that shies away from a new, unique and quirky idea that may or may not sell well. Such is the case with the Citroen C4 Cactus, which wasn’t only a completely new name brought up by Citroen from quite literally nowhere, but it is also extremely distinctive and guaranteed the buyers the fact that they’ll stand out from the crowd.
Now, Citroen thinks that the C4 Cactus simply isn’t quite unique enough, at least that’s what I believe to excuse the birth of a special edition of a variant of the original C4, known simply as the C4 Cactus Rip Curl, a car that intends to introduce you to a new lifestyle.
From afar, you can quite clearly tell that this is still a Citroen C4 Cactus, from the incredibly well incorporated fluid body lines throughout the front and back of the C4 Cactus, to the weird airbumps integrated into the doors of the car to absorb minor knocks from environmental hazards, and also the new Citroen design language for the headlamps and taillamps.
However, look closer, and you will be able to tell the difference between the C4 Cactus and the C4 Cactus Rip Curl, from the larger 17 inch wheels to the gloss white roof rails.
All in all, the C4 Cactus Rip Curl actually looks quite similar to the normal, very well received C4 Cactus. In fact, people that don’t know better might think that all the exterior additions are just aftermarket parts, however, worth noting that the Rip Curl also has additional stickers on the front fenders and rear pillars, whether it’s savoury is a whole different matter though.
Powering the Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl is yet again from the PureTech line, this time in our model being the PureTech 110, which is a 1.2 litre inline-3 turbo engine with direct injection technology putting out 110 hp and a strong 205 Nm of torque.
The transmission mated to the engine is a similar unit we got used to in the Citroen C1 Furio, a 5-speed manual which spins the front wheels to propel the car from a standstill to 62 mph in 9.3 seconds, to a top speed of 117 mph, while retaining 65.7 mpg and putting out 100 g/km of carbon.
Additionally, the C4 Cactus Rip Curl’s differential is revised with an off-road system Citroen calls ‘Grip Control’, which helps to maintain traction when met with tough situations. This, in essence, is similar to Land Rover’s system and further reinforces the ambition the C4 Cactus Rip Curl of being an active off-roader. This is the main thing that differentiates the Rip Curl from the typical C4 Cactus.
How Does it Drive?
To start the car, you simply insert the key into the ignition and turn it over to go, classic.
While you might be expecting a lot from how the car handles, to be frank, it’s not much different from the normal C4 Cactus. I did not expect this car to drive as snappy and swift like Citroen’s little C1 Furio, but then again, the Citroen C4 was actually a very well received car, scoring very satisfactory marks from different reviewers.
Despite the fact that it looks like a big, tall and clunky car, you have to keep in mind that this particular Citroen is actually competing in the mini crossover segment, essentially it’s a lifted hatchback. And Citroen is famous for making good, driver-friendly hatchbacks.
Acceleration of the car is acceptable, at just under 10 seconds, it’s not a slug. The car also rides quite well throughout bumpy roads, which is undoubtedly helpful when dealing with rough environments, where the Rip Curl is made for.
The car actually corners quite well, to me, it drives like a taller hatchback really. Although it does not provide 4WD, Citroen has, specifically for the Rip Curl model, swapped out the regular tyres for some all-terrain tyres, accustomed to dealing with mud and snow.
Finally, we move to the new feature that Citroen is marketing the Rip Curl on, Grip Control. This is an intelligent traction control, allowing the driver to select the correct surfaces that he or she is driving on so that the system can react accordingly.
This is actually the same exact system featured in the Peugeot 2008, and in that review, it showed clearly the system working quite well in retaining grip while dealing with rough terrain, even with the Rip Curl being a FWD car at heart.
What’s it Like Inside?
For me, I personally think that Citroen did a good job with the C4 Cactus Rip Curl’s interior.
The interior of the car is very simple, with very little clutter. The seating of the car is wrapped in cloth with quite interesting design choices similar to that of the C4 Cactus. The steering wheel is comfortable to hold onto, with a 3-spoke design featuring fat bolsters to hold onto and glossy black trimming below the horn, it also has a few multimedia buttons.
Citroen has also implemented subtle changes to the cabin, from orange-trimmed speaker surrounds to orange seatbelts, which is no doubt an attempt to infuse sporty intentions into the driver. One of the most intriguing features applicable to both the C4 Cactus and the Rip Curl special edition is no doubt the instrument display.
I’d like to believe the display is made by a sci-fi fanatic, because it is very simple to read, with a big number in the middle showing the speed and additional information shown to the sides, it’s a funky touch to an already very funky car.
Most of the car’s control is handled by the centre 7 inch screen, a method similar to all other Citroens nowadays. I really quite enjoyed my time being in one of these, and no doubt passengers will ask questions about it.
The Cactus C4 Rip Curl in reality offers little meaningful additions to the car, other than the roof rails, the TCS, and the all-terrain tyres.
However, do not let that detract you from going for one of these, as the C4 Cactus was never a bad car to begin with. Although, more likely than not, the Rip Curl special edition will become obscure in the future, it feels really special. In one of these, every time you pass by someone, you feel that you made someone’s day, purely from the exterior looks.
If there’s one word I’m asked to use to best fit the Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, I’d definitely say character. The C4 Cactus was already a car with plenty of personality, and for some reason, the Rip Curl adds that much more to it, with its stickers and white roof rails just waiting for you to put your surf board onto it.
The Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl has some dubious additions over the C4 Cactus, however, it does not deviate the car from how fun it looks on the outside. I reckon that one of these will get more attention than any other car in its segment, purely thanks to the looks. It packs a good engine, it gives you looks, and it’s one highly regarded surprise of many.
2016 Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl
- Price: £18,840 (£20,030 as tested)
- Engine: 1.2-litre inline 3 turbocharged engine
- Power: 110 hp
- Torque: 205 Nm
- Transmission: 5-speed syncromesh manual
- 0-62mph: 9.3 Seconds
- Top speed: 117 mph
- Weight: 1,190 kg
- Economy combined: 65.7 mpg
- CO2: 100 g/km