The Cactus feels very much like an older Peugeot or Citroen product in its ride and handling balance. There’s a pliant ride over most surfaces – only larger road zits send a shudder through the cabin – and a sort of relaxing, loping gait on country roads and motorways.
At the same time, the car’s light weight means it’s not all at sea when the road gets twisty, and while there’s a reasonable degree of body roll these movements are well controlled.
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The steering isn’t quite as direct as in some rivals – in fact, it’s very light and a little slow to respond around the straight-ahead, which does make you wonder whether the car will react to your initial inputs – but once there’s some load through the tyres it’s precise enough. Like those old Peugeots particularly, the rear axle even feels like it’s helping to share the load – though the balance is ultimately safe, so you’ll rarely need any steering correction.
What it won’t do is entertain like an old Pug or Citroen hot hatchback. While that would normally be a disappointment, there’s something quite refreshing about the Cactus’s dismissal of superficial sportiness in favour of relaxation and more flowing driving characteristics.