You may remember the Rip Curl name from another French brand’s special- edition models. Not too long ago, Renault was churning out Clios carrying the Australian surfwear company’s logos. Times change, so now Citroen will sell you a Rip Curl-badged C4 Cactus.
The crossover has been on sale for two years and remains arguably the boldest- looking model in its sector. The Rip Curl edition is based on top-spec Flair trim, but costs an additional £500. Forthat premium, it brings extras including natty graphics, silver skid-plates and white door mirrors and roof bars.
Inside, cosmetic tweaks are limited to some bright orange seatbelts and speaker surrounds, but Citroen’s ‘Grip Control’ selector has also been added to the Cactus for the first time. This allows you to flick between default, sand, snow or mud modes. Most buyers will probably find that they never even use it, but it’s useful to have for those odd occasions when the British weather turns sour.
Still, the cabin is the same minimalist and practical design that makes the car so refreshing, with armchair-like front seats, a neat top-opening glovebox and a simple layout. There’s also plenty of standard kit.
The C4 Cactus isn’t perfect, though; the driving position is awkward for tall people, the all-important central touchscreen is fiddly to operate and cabin quality remains patchy. Weight-saving (and cost-saving) measures are easily found, too, including the pop-out rear windows.
The Rip Curl drives no differently from a standard C4 Cactus. We tested the 1.6-litre BlueHDi 100 diesel engine, which is frugal and strong but hampered by a long-throw gearshift. The lighter 1.2-litre turbo petrol that’s also available is thirstier, but more in keeping with the C4 Cactus’s fun ethos.
Citroen has fitted the C4 Cactus with very soft suspension, which means a good ride most of the time. The larger alloys and light body mean it can thump and bounce on rough roads, however. Combine that with the wallow in corners and accurate but feel-free steering, and it’s clear there are better-driving rivals available.
Cactus Rip Curl is based on Flair spec, but adds Citroen’s five-mode Grip Control traction system and special all-weather tyres.
Orange seatsbelts are unique to the Rip Curl edition, as are white mirrors and roof bars, along with graphics and silver skid plates.
Space remains unaffected, so you get decent rear head and legroom, 1,170 litres with the seats folded.
The C4 Cactus remains a genuinely interesting and unique alternative to the ‘same again’ crossover norm. Its bold exterior and funky cabin are truly refreshing, while the soft ride gives it real Citroen DNA. We’re not convinced the Rip Curl edition makes it notably more distinctive, however. It’s still easier to appreciate the Cactus’s value lower down the range, while the petrol models are nicer to drive than this diesel version.
Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Rip Curl
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 114mph
ON SALE: Now