FOR a car with a prickly name, the new Citroen Cactus is remarkably soothing.

The distinctive five-door SUV has had a mini make-over, saying goodbye to its plastic Airbumps side-cladding. But it has said hello to a remarkably smooth suspension system, which does much to take the sting out of today’s roads.

The French manufacturer has come up with a method of easing the effect of road surfaces pockmarked by potholes. It’s all down to the debut of Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC) suspension, which (put simply) adds a pair of hydraulic dampers into each suspension corner, replacing the rubber stops used on most cars.

It is part of the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme, which also includes seats which somehow combine supportive qualities with a truly comfy feel. Here’s how Citroen explain it: “The exceptional comfort is assured by the foam and high-density layer used within each seat. The construction delivers the correct support, which is particularly beneficial on long journeys. The softness of the foam, the extra padding and the overall appearance of the seats mean there is an impression of comfort even before you get into the car.”

Citroen have a history of innovation when it comes to suspension design, with the landmark hydropneumatic system for the Traction Avant in 1954, and the iconic 2CV which had a coil-spring system mounted longitudinally beneath the floor on both sides of the car.

I made a near-200 mile round-trip in the Cactus and can testify to the car’s smooth progress over a variety of road surfaces, making for a satisfying driving experience.

There are two core trim levels to choose from, Feel and Flair, and the Weekend Wheels road test car was a Flair PT 110 with a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, 100bhp diesel engine and easy-changing six-speed manual gearbox (0-62mph in 10.7 seconds, top speed 114mph).

A 7in tablet-style touchscreen groups all of the key vehicle functions, and this roomy car came laden with kit including cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, front electric windows, front fog lights with cornering function, LED daytime running lights, reversing camera, Bluetooth and media streaming and steering wheel controls.

The car ticks the box marked ‘practicality’ with 1/3 and 2/3 split folding rear seats and the boot is roomy but with a high-ish loading lip.Driver assistance systems offered include active safety brake, grip control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring system, park assist and a handy reversing camera Price: £19,865