Citroën C-Cactus/Essentialle

Photos of Citroën’s upcoming C-Cactus-based economical hatchback have been leaked.

Rumours are rife that Citroen is planning to establish a new eco-brand to sit below its standard models, which in turn sit below the recently introduced DS premium range. Called ‘Essentiale’ the new sub-brand would focus on low-weight, simplicity of design and affordability – and the C-Cactus is mooted to be the first member of the Essentiale family when it goes on sale in 2012.

The philosophy of simplicity and ditching of superfluous equipment places the C-Cactus as a spiritual succesor to cut-price Citroens of the past such as the legendary 2CV and lesser-known Citroen Visa. If the 2007 concept is anything to go by, the entire dash structure could be ditched to cut weight and provide additional room in the cabin.

The interior might be purposefully low-tech, but under the bonnet a three-cylinder diesel engine mated to an electric motor should provide class-leading fuel economy, and mark the start of a new wave of cheap but reliable hybrids.

I personally would’ve preferred a dead ringer for the Citroën C-Airplay, one of the best-looking concepts Citroën has come up with in recent years. This model isn’t exactly ugly, though I do have my reservations on Citroën’s new front grill aesthetics, based upon the dubiously-styled new brand symbol.

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