By: Dave Abrahams
Paris, France - This lighthearted Citroen concept isn't going to stop the show at Frankfurt, but it will bring a smile to most faces.
And if you're old enough to remember the Dyane-based Citroen Mehari and the Mini Moke of the late 1960s, you'll know exactly where the Cactus M concept is coming from.
Described as an open-air crossover, it's purely a leisure vehicle, intended to evoke images of sand, sun and surf (check out the video below!) but which carries the important engineering corollary that, like the original 1968 Mehari (which was made of ABS plastic, not glass fibre) it uses as little sheet steel as possible in its construction - partly to save weight and partly because any vehicle used around salt water is frighteningly vulnerable to rust.
The big plastic doors with Airbump finish are scratch and rust-proof (taking the Cactus idea a step further) and the upright windscreen and raised body on oversized tyres emphasise its carefree 'go anywhere' persona.
HOSE IT DOWN
Rear passengers get in and out over the sides using moulded-in steps, the seats are upholstered in wetsuit-like neoprene fabric and there are even drain holes in the foot-wells so that you can hose it down after a day at the beach.
The seat backs fold flat to become a bed and the inflatable roof (no, we're not kidding; it uses air-filled tubes in place of folding framework) can be installed 'wrong way round' to create a tent with 1.8 metre standing room behind the car.
Since it is to all intents and purposes a C4 in a bikini, the concept has all the features of the production Cactus, including the central Touch Drive interface, Easy Push auto gearbox and Grip Control limited-slip front wheel drive with four-mode (Normal, All-Terrain, Snow and Sand) rotary control to the left of the steering wheel.
It's also a runner, thanks to an 81kW, 1.2-litre petrol three for which the maker quotes fuel consumption of 4.8 litres per 100km.
Given that Citroen sold 145 000 Meharis between 1968 and 1988, it may just be putting a toe in the water for a possible production version.