Citroen Cactus M concept is revealed, with the convertible version inspired by the lightweight Mehari 4x4
19 September 2015

The Citroen Cactus M revealed at the Frankfurt motor show is not just a show car, with the company assessing the reaction to the convertible concept.

The open-top concept car is based on the same underpinnings as the production Cactus hatchback and takes styling inspiration from the Citroen Mehari lightweight off-road vehicle, which was sold from 1968 to 1988.

“We are testing to see what the reaction is,” said Citroen boss Linda Jackson. “We’ve done it to take Cactus a bit further. Clearly there is a hint, a little spirit of Mehari.”

She said that a convertible production model has not yet been signed off but remains a possibility: “It isn’t planned for production but we are testing reaction, and it has been a fantastic reaction.”

However, any production version would be more toned down than the wash-clean, waterproof model on the show stand, as Jackson said: “If we were to produce one it wouldn’t be like that, but who knows?”

Despite its Cactus platform, the concept is a permanent open-top car. The only roof it comes with is a lightweight canvas arrangement that can also double up as a tent. It takes strong inspiration from the Aircross concept, which was shown at the Shanghai motor show earlier this year.

Frédéric Duvernier, Citroen’s external designer responsible for concept cars, said that the Cactus M is designed to pay homage to the Mehari rather than copy it. “There is some pressure. If you respect the spirit of the car it is alright; if you just try to redo the car the same way it is wrong,” he said. “Physically the spirit remains it is true to the original Mehari. It is not a copycat.”

The front and rear of the car are kept largely the same as the Cactus while the rest of the car has been largely redesigned. Unlike the four-door Cactus, the Cactus M is a two-door vehicle.

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The two doors are much longer than those on the standard car and are constructed of one piece of moulded plastic to reduce weight. The outside of the door is covered in the same thermoformed TPU coating as the airbumps on the Cactus, and stretch across the entire door.

The windscreen has been made more upright than on the Cactus, partly to make the car appear shorter and partly to improve the feeling of space in the cabin. The front windscreen surround and the similarly styled rear U-shaped hoop are both reinforced to improve safety and body rigidity.

Citroën says that the Cactus M is designed to be used at the beach, and it features a pair of standard surfboards that are strapped to the roof. The cabin is much more basic than that of the Cactus, and is largely fabric free, making it waterproof. It also has drainage holes under the floor mats, allowing it to be hosed down. The seats and dashboard are covered in the same material that is used to make wetsuits - meaning passengers can get in without drying themselves.

Although the front seats move forward slightly, there are two steps cut into the side of the car to act as steps so passengers can climb into the rear of the car.

The lightweight roof also doubles up as a tent, which can be attached to the top of the car and extend out to the back. The rear seats can then be dropped, and the boot lid folded down to create a sleeping area large enough for two. It is tall enough to be stood up in, too, at 1.80m high.

The roof is held in place on the top of the car, or when it is being used as a tent, by means of three tubes which are then inflated by a compressor in the rear of the car.

The Cactus M is the same length and height as the standard car and has the same length wheelbase. It is marginally wider, at 1.77m, due to tweaked wheelarches.

Power for the concept comes from Citroën’s 1.2-litre 108bhp petrol engine and claims a fuel economy only marginally off the standard Cactus, at 58.9mpg.

Autocar can also reveal that Citroen recently applied for the trademark on the e-Mehari name, suggesting the car could have an electric or hybrid powertrain.

The 'e' prefix to the Mehari trademark raises the possibility of a production car getting an electrically assisted four-wheel drive system. The original Mehari was sold as a 4x4 between 1979 and 1983.

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Comments
10

19 August 2015
Autocar wrote:

Citroen is eager to spark memories of the Mehari in its concept as part of its push to remind people of its new philosophy of building cars with a simplicity of purpose

But of course they are. Citroen are never done plundering their heritage these days; anything to distract from the awfulness of the last 25 years. Every brand which has reached a dead-end rustles up some bit of supposedly glorious history from somewhere. But if they really cared about their heritage, and DS for instance, then they wouldn't plaster this hallowed nameplate over anonymous hatchbacks with nothing to offer but a good lease deal.

21 August 2015
Norma Smellons wrote:
Autocar wrote:

Citroen is eager to spark memories of the Mehari in its concept as part of its push to remind people of its new philosophy of building cars with a simplicity of purpose

But of course they are. Citroen are never done plundering their heritage these days; anything to distract from the awfulness of the last 25 years. Every brand which has reached a dead-end rustles up some bit of supposedly glorious history from somewhere. But if they really cared about their heritage, and DS for instance, then they wouldn't plaster this hallowed nameplate over anonymous hatchbacks with nothing to offer but a good lease deal.

Anonymous hatchbacks? Judging by the number of Cacti you see on the roads, and how blatantly obvious they make themselves in standing out from the crowd, I think Citroen are about to go on an offensive of anything BUT anonymous hatchbacks. 25 years awful? I wouldn't label the likes of the C4 Picasso, original BX, XM etc 'awful'.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

2 September 2015
Norma Smellons][quote=Autocar wrote:

then they wouldn't plaster this hallowed nameplate over anonymous hatchbacks with nothing to offer but a good lease deal.

Emmm DS3 isn't anonymous, I see them all the time, same too for C3's and Picasso versions of the c3 and c4.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

20 August 2015
I don't think so; it had the 602cc flat-twin, air-cooled 4-stroke as per the 2CV, Dyane, Ami etc.

Still, if Citroen decide to build a modern Mehari it will be a huge hit. I want one without even having seen it.

20 August 2015
There was an announcement recently about a JV between PSA and Bollore (French electric vehicle maker) which involved a Bollore electric vehicle (called Blue-something) being sold by PSA. It looked just like a modern Mehari would look. Is this the same thing?

25 August 2015
If not, wish they'd hurry up and launch a new 2CV. It's not done MINI, VW or Fiat any harm plundering their past.

2 September 2015
I'm so tempted to buy an old convertible with a rollbar and some sheets of wood effect fablon.

2 September 2015
Like it. Citroen are the only contemporary brand pushing out vaguely minimalist cars, and that's something to be celebrated. DS can be for the fashion-conscious, keep the mainstream Citroen's vaguely individual.
Jim - wasn't 2stroke..i think you mean air-cooled 4stroke.

2 September 2015
I can see this working, especially in the never-rains rental areas. When it comes time to look at replacing the current iron oxide fastener, I'll certainly be looking at a Cactus. Maybe not a Mehari though. As for shamelessly Citroën plundering their past, it's theirs, they can do with it what they want. Nobody seriously thinks they're getting anything like an original DS when they buy a DS5, and for most owners of the DS3, they probably wouldn't even know what a DS was. The only people who care about any 'sacrilege' are those who don't like Citroëns anyway, as far as I can make out.

15 September 2015
Phinehas wrote:

Nobody seriously thinks they're getting anything like an original DS when they buy a DS5, and for most owners of the DS3, they probably wouldn't even know what a DS was.

You'd be surprised. I was at a village fete a couple of weeks ago, where there were some old cars on display, including a DS21.

A couple come up to the owner and the man says that he had to come over and look at it, as "We've got one of these". The owner is very pleased, and starts talking about them. After a few blank stares from the couple, he asks if there's is the same model as his. "No, ours is the newer version." The DS23, maybe?

DS3....

There's a reason why Citroen have dropped their name on the new ones, and now badge them all purely as 'DS'.

(It also means that I get a lot of confused looks when I tell people that my dream car is a DS.)

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