Happenings

Prickly heat

BY Jonathan Lim

The C4 Cactus has been one of Citroen's quirkier creations of late, with innovative use of plastics in its AirBump technology. Its latest concept, the Cactus M, takes that one step further.

Photos courtesy of NetCarShow.com

Do you lead a lifestyle with a lot of outdoor activities? Is the sight of sand and mud embedded in the carpets and crevices in the floor of your car a source of consternation for you? Then the Citroen Cactus M might be of interest to you. It's a concept car that explores what an open-top C4 Cactus could look like, and also channels the spirit of one of Citroen's past icons, the Méhari lightweight utility vehicle.

The Méhari was produced from 1968-1987, and saw use not only as a commercial vehicle but also as a military one. Just as the Mini Moke had a basic, roofless and doorless body on top of mechanicals from a BMC Mini, so too was the Méhari based on the running gear of the Citroen Dyane (itself a development of the iconic 2CV). Its ABS plastic body made the Méhari even lighter than the 2CV (just 535kg), which made it an excellent vehicle for light off-roading. As a result, the Méhari became something of a cult classic in rural and seaside France.

Targeting the beach-going surfer crowd, the Cactus M takes some styling cues from the Méhari such, as the open roof, corrugated AirBumps on the all-plastic doors, tall narrow wheels and exposed door hinges. The rear doors are gone, replaced with little hollowed-out steps for rear passengers to literally hop in, while the wooden windscreen surround and rear hoop allow for a couple of surfboards to be lashed to it.

In keeping with the beach-going theme, the Cactus M's interior is completely waterproof, so you needn't worry about bringing salt and sand into the car. The seats and dashboard are both covered in neoprene – the same material wetsuits are made of – and the whole cabin can be hosed out. And unlike a real cactus, you don't have to worry about the Cactus M filling up with water – there are drainage holes beneath the rubber floor mats to let the water out! For those seeking even more adventure (or romance), the Cactus M's rear seats and tailgate can fold down for a sleeping area large enough for two, and a lightweight hand-erected roof stowed in the boot floor can be fixed to the rear of the car and inflated with an in-built air compressor, turning it into a tent.

Unlike most concept vehicles, the Cactus M has a fully functioning drivetrain, seeing as it's based on the production C4 Cactus. Powering the car is a 1.2-litre turbo 4-cylinder with 110hp, and a six-speed automatic gearbox not used before in this crossover. The Cactus M may not see production in its current form, but with the Cactus outselling the regular C4 in other parts of the world, we wouldn't bet against more quirky derivatives of this car sprouting up in the months ahead.