ONCE upon a time Citroen was a car maker at the absolute cutting edge of automotive design, producing such timeless classics as the DS and 2CV and designing innovative suspension systems that were way ahead of their time.
The French car maker might have had a few ups and downs over the years but right now it is back big time in terms of setting trends and doing things just that little bit differently.
A winner of the best design category at the World Car of the Year awards following its launch a couple of years back the Cactus seems to have been embraced by the UK public and perhaps could even be emerging as a modern classic in its own right - only time will tell on that score.
The Cactus is a car that's delightfully quirky yet immensely practical too.
There's no disputing the Cactus' defining feature are its Airbumps, which are essentially two pieces of automotive armour in the shape of plastic cladding that protect the car from damage and render it ‘car park proof'.
Citroen spent a considerable amount of time developing these thermoplastic polyurethane panels, filled with compressed air, that are fitted to the sides of the car.
What they do is serve as a barrier and prevent the kind of car park damage inflicted by neighbouring car doors, out of control shopping trolleys and the like.
It's the perfect case of style and practicality coming together as they make the Cactus extremely eye-catching yet at the same time serve a very useful purpose.
There's more plastic protection around the wheel arches, which add to the character of the Cactus and the quirky features don't stop there.
Pop-out rear windows might seem like a retrograde step but they are simple and easy and save a lot of weight.
The quirky styling continues on the interior, with an eye-catching fascia that has both fashion and function in mind.
It also has a massive glovebox thanks to roof-mounted airbags (a first).
There are some clever storage touches throughout and cavernous door bins which I loved. Nine times out of ten I go to put something in a door bin only to find it won't fit but in this regard the Cactus excels.
There are five trim levels to choose from - Touch, Feel, Flair, Flair Edition and Rip Curl - and a range of engines - 75bhp, 82bhp and 110bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrols and a 100bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel.
This car was powered by a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre 110bhp petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
An impressive all-rounder it can travel from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, tops out at 117mph and can return combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon dioxide emissions of 106g/km.
The Cactus' cabin is roomy, certainly scoring highly from a supermini perspective - it's actually based on PSA Peugeot-Citroen's ‘PF1' supermini platform.
The supermini underpinnings do impinge slightly on ride quality and driving manners, lacking some of the sophistication one might generally get in a larger vehicle.