Unlike the prickly desert dwelling plant, Citroen’s new C4 Cactus CUV/hatchback mashup is approachable and easy to hug. Lighter than the regular C4, the airbump-bearing vehicle is more about making a design statement than pushing the technological envelope.

First unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show last September, Citroen’s smallish C4 Cactus features some interesting design details. Those odd-looking bumpy bits on the side and bumpers are what the firm refers to as “airbumps," and they're designed as both a graphic and protective feature. The thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) gas-filled bumps, available in four colors to compliment the Cactus’ 10 exterior color options, are designed to protect it from the likes of shopping carts, parking lot door-dings or front/rear bumper taps.

Along with the obvious bumpy bits, the C4 Cactus exudes forward-thinking design elements. Featuring a curvy stubby nose, slit-like headlights, short overhangs, large wheel openings, an extended spoiler and high waistline, the Cactus comes off as a concept for a younger demographic, but with obvious urban use intentions. It's designed to compete in Europe’s highly competitive C-segment with the likes of the Fiat 500, Nissan Juke and VW Golf.

Premised off Citroen’s DS3 chassis, the Cactus is smaller than the firm’s standard C4 but does share the latter’s wheelbase. Even though it looks bigger than most hatchbacks, the C4 Cactus is not only shorter than a Volkswagen Golf but at 2,218 lb (965 kg) it's 440 lb (200 kg) lighter than Citroen’s regular C4 thanks to a new lightweight platform, materials, components and a smaller engine.

The Cactus’ engine options aren’t only light but according to the manufacturer, the 99 bhp 1.6 liter diesel is capable of delivering mileage figures of 3.1L/100 km (76 mpg) and emissions of 82 gm of CO2/km. A 110 bhp turbo-charged 3-cylinder gas engine making 109 bhp will be available along with a choice of a 5-speed manual gearbox or Citroen’s ETG auto-box.

Inside the Cactus, in addition to a split-bench/front seat arrangement and 358 liters of storage space, Citroen has designed in a panoramic glass roof to give the car an airy, open interior feel. The dash, clean and unfettered almost to the point of being too pragmatic, is enhanced by a 7-inch touchscreen that manages the car’s infotainment functions, sat-nav system, phone apps and mapping functions.

Old school luggage-like door handles and hinge fittings further add to the Cactus’ interior design dissonance. But while the interior may suffer from an identity crisis, technological items like Hill and Park Assist, back-up camera and static cornering lights ensure the Cactus remains in the today.

Citroen’s C4 Cactus will be available in Europe starting Q4 of 2014. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Source: Citroen