THE furore caused by Citroen's decision to clad the C4 Cactus in bubble wrap over-shadowed everything else about this French hatchback when it launched four years ago.

The Cactus was the first in a new breed of Citroens. It was designed to be cheap to build (and sell), as well as looking good and offering a comfortable ride.

As well as offering excellent low-speed impact protection, the infamous bubble wrap add-ons (dubbed 'Airbumps' by Citroen) helped disguise the slab-sided door panels which were easier to manufacture. They divided opinion like nothing else: some people appreciated their funky practicality, others said they ruined an otherwise straightforward design.

Fast forward four years and everything has changed - and so has the Cactus.

The big Airbumps have gone (relegated to blink-and-you'll-miss-them inserts at the bottom of the doors) and so have the original's pseudo-SUV looks. Citroen has revised the Cactus with one eye on sales: the new look is more mature, premium almost, and perfectly inoffensive. That should ensure the Cactus appeals to a wider audience but some will undoubtedly lament the lack of the quirkiness that has defined classic Citroens over the decades (not that said quirkiness helped sales).

However, there is more to the new Cactus than meets the eye for this is the first Citroen to benefit from the company's new advanced hydraulic cushion suspension system. Although the name evokes memories of Citroen's famous hydropneumatic suspension system, which debuted in 1954, the new set-up is merely a development of a conventional spring/damper suspension and owes nothing to the old gas-based suspension spheres.

Citroen has fitted 'progressive hydraulic cushions' in place of traditional bump stops. These hydraulically assisted coilovers absorb more energy when the suspension is fully extended and prevent the springs rebounding too quickly when they hit a bump or a pot hole in the road.

The result, says Citroen, is a ride like a magic carpet. It's also a relatively cheap solution to a perennial problem and therefore most unlike the old hydropneumatic set-up which was infamously tricky to work on when it acted up. Hydraulic cushioning is standard equipment on Feel and Flair trim levels.

The focus on comfort continues inside where there's more sound-absoption material between the occupants and the powertrain and the front seats use expensive memory foam (the same stuff that normally fills expensive mattresses and promises a great night's sleep). Citroen's designers wanted to give the impression of comfort before the driver even gets into the Cactus.

Spacious, light and welcoming, the French describe the passenger compartment as a "true cocoon of comfort". The soft fabrics and soothing colours have been chosen for their calming effect on the psyche. The Wild Grey ambiance is standard fit on Feel and Flair versions, along with Advanced Comfort seats. Customers have a further choice of three different interiors including Metropolitan Red with its dark red dashboard; Hype Red combining Beige Nappa Leather with Beige fabric and red colour touches; and Hype Grey with a more traditional interior feel and Black half-leather seats.

Naturally, the C4 Cactus is a very safe car, too.

Safety technologies include active safety braking, speed limit recognition, lane departure warning, driver attention alert, coffee break alert, blind spot monitoring, hill start assist and parking assistance.

Finally, Citreon has equipped the C4 Cactus with Grip Control - the group's enhanced traction control system which can help in bad weather conditions.

The 7-inch touchscreen groups together all of the key vehicle functions, such as the air conditioning, radio and telephone. New C4 Cactus promises continuous connectivity and infotainment.

Other practical and easy-to-use connectivity technologies include voice-controlled 3D navigation via Citroën Connect Nav, Citroën Connect Box with Emergency & Assistance and Mirror Screen functionality with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay™ and MirrorLink.

Now available to order, the C4 Cactus is available with three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines and BlueHDI diesels.

The new model is priced from just £17,265 for the PureTech 82 Feel Edition and tops out at £21,165 for the PureTech 110 Flair fitted with a six speed stop-start automatic gearbox.

If you want the cheapest version you better move fast. It's only available until the end of May.

It's based on the Feel trim level with the addition of the Metropolitan Red interior ambiance. Featuring Advanced Comfort seats and Citroën’s signature 16-inch black ‘Square’ alloy wheels, the Feel Edition comes with a Deep Red Colour Pack that includes red fog light surrounds and Airbump highlights. The standard body colour is Polar White with the option of Cumulus Grey, Platinum Grey, Obsidian Black metallic paints and a Pearlescent White finish.