(Pocket-lint) - Despite its prickly-sounding name, the Citroen C4 Cactus is anything but. We first saw the Cactus as a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 and things have moved along fast.

The road-worthy C4 2014 model, shown here, has bypassed the HybridAir engine system - which combines a petrol combustion engine and compressed air storage - in favour of standard petrol and diesel engine options. But come 2016 the future generation could see HybridAir on the road.

In terms of looks, though, it's a familiar story. All rounded and with air-filled cushion bumpers to the sides it's an unusual looker that, shown for the first time in the UK, garnered plenty of attention on the Citroen stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. No surprise really as it looks rather insane. Like someone's stuck some chocolate boxes on the side. Or fitted it with a bullet-proof vest. We couldn't help but prod the air-filled pockets - called Airbump - with our fingers like a naughty child, even if it wasn't as satisfying as popping bubblewrap. Perhaps it's called Cactus because they're like prickly spines to the eyes?


But these pockets are there for good reason: to avoid bumps and dents. It's the car for today's hyper-cautious world.

Get on the inside, however, and the Cactus is all warm and fuzzy - we're rather taken by some of the design elements. The top-opening glovebox, the leather and fabric panels adding a certain suave - the door handle looks like it belongs to a suitcase, but there's a certain design cool about that.

Indeed this is a car where Citroen have let its design team have a bit of fun; to play and experiment. Even if we're not fans of the whacking-great bumpers on the side, the squinted-eye headlights look like they're from the future (in a good way), while the 7-inch "floating" touchscreen LCD panel to the interior is an easily accessible command centre. There are some quality touches here, especially for the price.


Starting at just £13,000 the Cactus isn't as pricey as its stand-out looks might suggest. Fitted with either a 1.2-litre petrol (there's a turbo-charged option) or 1.6-litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine and five-speed box in its top-spec format, the front wheel drive car has ample goods under the hood. In that 1.6L finish a top speed of 114mph and 0-60mph in just shy of 11 seconds isn't exactly mighty, but the focus here is for a comfy, protected family car crossover.

The Citroen C4 Cactus will certainly turn heads. Whether for the right reasons of the wrong ones we can't say, but if it catches your attention then you can pre-order from 1 July in the UK.

Writing by Mike Lowe.