The Citroen Cactus's distinctive design may win over buyers -- or put them off.
PAUL MCVEIGH

Will the Citroen C4 Cactus be a game changer?

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Paul McVeigh is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Citroen is taking a bold step with its new C4 Cactus compact car that debuts at the Geneva auto show ­-- just like Nissan did when it launched the Qashqai in 2007.

Like the Qashqai, the C4 Cactus has a polarizing design that you'll either love or hate.

The C4 Cactus arrives at the right time to win price-conscious buyers in austerity hit European markets.

The so-called Airbumps cladding on the car's doors and bumpers, which are designed to absorb minor bumps and reduce repair bills, may win over buyers. A "pay-per-use" retail plan based on similar schemes for smartphones may also win over those on a tight budget.

The C4 Cactus's high stance also meets a trend for high-riding vehicles.

The Qashqai has been a longtime best-seller in Europe for Nissan. Rivals were forced to follow and offer cars for everyday use with SUV styling.

Will the C4 Cactus be a game changer or will people be put off by its quirky look? The future of Citroen and its parent, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, may well depend on the outcome.

You can reach Paul McVeigh at pmcveigh@crain.com.

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