To evaluate the possibility of marketing an economical hybrid compact vehicle, Citroën is exploring new forms of design, abandoning features that are not essential to comfort and to focus instead on technology, styling and equipment.
The C-Cactus weighs just 1,109 kg and is equipped with a 70 hp hybrid HDi drivetrain, that allows an average fuel consumption of 2.9 l/100 km for CO2 emissions of 78 g/km and a top speed limited to 150 km/h.
According to Citroen, the C-Cactus would be no more expensive than a mid-range family car, like an entry-level C4.
Its low production cost can be attributed to the use of new materials and to a rational design process using a smaller number of parts. The cabin is made up of just over 200 parts, i.e. almost half the number used by a conventional hatchback of identical size.
The original styling also reflects ingenious design choices. Throughout the design process, the focus was very much on simplicity.
This led to the development of ingenious solutions that contribute to the attractive offbeat design of C-Cactus.
At the front, the headlamps of C-Cactus give the vehicle an appealing air with their rounded and slightly angular forms, underlined by two cylindrical air intakes cut out of the bumper, above an air intake grille of modern design which, while contributing to the vehicle’s rounded forms.
The dynamic design lines are accentuated by the forward flowing roof line and the asymmetric doors made of crude steel, treated for corrosion, contributing to savings in production costs.
The doors feature an original cut-out since the fixed windows remove a number of the constraints that usually apply to design. Shaped to provide easy access to the interior, they give C-Cactus a curving, sleekly muscled appearance.
The high waistline and 21-inch wheels also underline the strong character of C‑Cactus. Citroën worked with Michelin on the development of low-profile tyres with a large diameter and limited width.
The low ground friction area limits fuel consumption and, at the same time, tyre production costs are kept under control since the manufacturing process requires only a small amount of rubber.
For new and even more original styling, these specially designed tyres feature a green pattern on a white background printed inside a wide groove spanning the entire tread.
The rear lights, which resemble the headlamps in shape, boast an innovative feature: cut-outs in the interior plastic that let the driver see through.
Thanks to the generous dimensions (4.2 metres long and 1.8 metres wide) the C-Cactus can offer a roomy interior, characterized by a panoramic sunroof and by the absence of the dashboard whose functions are now grouped on the central console and the fixed hub of the steering wheel.
The design cut-outs, choice of materials, patterns and colours give the cabin a minimalist and airy look.
The central console includes the active loudspeakers, gearbox controls and tactile screen giving access to the onboard computer, navigation system and air conditioning controls.
The controls for the indicators, lights, wipers, horn and cruise control/speed limiter are on the fixed hub of the steering wheel, as are the tachometer and lights for the indicators, headlamps and warning signals.
When it is plugged into the fixed hub of the steering wheel, it is recognised by the vehicle which can then be started.
The fixed-hub steering wheel includes includes the speedometer, that features an unusual design: the figures, placed in relief around the hub, rotate according to speed and are positioned with respect to a fixed point.
The generous and modular trunk offers a capacity that ranges from 500 to 1,100 litres.
The rear seat, placed on a rail, slides up against the front seats.
The floor pan, which is integral with the rear bench, also slides forward to reveal a subfloor. This reveals a virtually flat surface area to load bulky objects.
Cork is used for many decorative parts, as well as for the air vents and air conditioning panel. The floor features a pattern in recycled leather. The white lacquer finish of some parts and the visual effects created by the materials used contribute to the original design and perceived quality of the cabin.
Non-essential parts, such as the dashboard, are absent, while some of the parts that are usually hidden have been included in the decor.
The decor has been created by removing material. This idea of decorating "in a vacuum" is reflected in the patterns present on the door panels and seat frames.
The patterns cut-out in the door panels show the apple green felt inserted between panel and metal. The main role of this part is to soundproof the vehicle, but its colour and cut-outs make it an integral part of the décor.
The same flower, plant and butterfly patterns – symbolising the environment, purity and well-being – are also found on several other cabin features. They are cut out, for example, in the white lacquer seat frame. These cut-outs show the coloured foam used for the seat cushions and give it a decorative quality.
Parts integration and reduction
- The part used for the front bumper includes the headlamps and chevrons is the same as the part making up the lower part of the tailgate at the rear.
- The front end is made of just two parts: a fixed bonnet comprising the front wings, and a flap giving access to the vehicle maintenance functions (oil, windscreen washer, etc.).
- The door panels are made of two parts, compared with twelve in a conventional hatchback.
- The seats also comprise two parts: a highly comfortable, moulded, coloured, integral-skin foam part for the seat, and a solid monoblock frame to hold the foam in place and fix the seat to the floor rails. The ergonomics are excellent and – here again – the number of components is limited.
- The conventional opening windows are replaced by a simple sliding mechanism, with no needs for window frames and the opening mechanism.