Cornwall in a Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, side
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, side
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, front
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, front
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, front
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, rear
Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl, interior

NEVER travel on a Friday coming back from West country.

I should have heeded my own advice given over many years when returning from a visit to friends in west Cornwall, but I forgot how bad it can be.

It was the worst traffic I have ever seen in nearly 50 years of travelling up and down to Cornwall regularly, when my parents lived there.

It took me about four hours for the easy drive down earlier in the week, but eight and a half to come back. Never again.

The holdups started on the A30 before we had even got out of Cornwall and, despite knowing most of the local roads pretty well and using a good map, I couldn't find a decent way around.

Then when we finally got on the motorway at Exeter, it was dangerously stop-start all the way to Bristol with far too much sudden braking for no apparent reason. Basically almost the whole journey was a nightmare.

Luckily we were comfortably cocooned in the Rip-Curl at the posh end of the Citroen C4 Cactus range, which did a staggering 56mpg all day.

Power comes from a 100bhp version of Citroen's venerable and smooth 1.6 HDi diesel driving the front wheels through a five-speed gearbox.

It feels very good out on the road and the engine has enough power for the fairly light weight.

It pulls excellently in the first four gears, and has enough urge for all motorway manoeuvres in fifth, although there was a thrum of resonance from somewhere at about 50 miles an hour.

It moves away happily from just above tickover - something which no diesel used to be able to do - and cruises easily at motorway speeds.

There is very little roll and it holds the road beautifully, even coping with me throwing it around unmercifully on a local abandoned airfield down in Cornwall.

It also has a mainly comfortable ride but it did became unsettled by very poor surfaces in country lanes as I tried to find my way round the hold-ups. However, most cars would have been the same.

Rip Curl spec brings the Citroen/Peugeot Grip Control traction system to help keep you going in slippery conditions, parking sensors, sat nav, aircon, folding rear seats and part leather upholstery in black with red stitching.

There's decent support in the seats through the corners and the driving position is good for all sizes of driver, except that the touch screen is slightly too far away if you're six foot or more like me.

FAST FACTS

Price: £19,570

Mechanical: 98bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 114mph

0-62mph: 10.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 78

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 95g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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