With its latest charismatic concept creation, Citroen is attempting to channel the spirit of the much loved Mehari, its utilitarian soft-top off-roading truck that was a huge cult hit in the 1970s and 80s.
While the Cactus M looks like it could make it into production, we wouldn’t suggest you hold your breath. That similarity is readily apparent in the M Concept’s front and rear styling, but between the axles and above the window line, things are rather different.
The length and height are the same as the production version, but width is greater due to wheel-arch flares. Extra off-road ability is provided by the company’s Grip Control system, which mediates the traction control to enhance purchase on uneven or slippery surfaces. These not only allow unhindered access to the rear, but are also built from the same thermoformed plastic as the protective airbumps found on the regular Cactus.
Described as an open-air crossover, it’s purely a leisure vehicle, intended to evoke images of sand, sun and surf 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. Completing the concept is the hard-to-miss Hawaii Blue paintjob. The colour scheme is created to evoke wet suits, and the Hawaiian theme is continued with the floral patterns on the dashboard and seats.
Citroën’s lifestyle-pitched C4 Cactus crossover will spawn an open-top sister at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
The Cactus M concept does have one feature that leaves all but the most outdoors-modified Wranglers in the dust: An inflatable roof that turns into a tent.
Power for the concept comes from Citroën’s 1.2-litre petrol unit of 108bhp, though the brand is also thought to be working on electric powertrains. Fuel economy and Carbon dioxide emissions are an impressive 58.9mpg and 110g/km, respectively.