Big changes have been made to the latest Citroën C4 Cactus but you won’t spot many of them until you get behind the wheel.

From the outside the most obvious difference is the shrinking of the door-protecting ‘Airbumps’ that were so prominent on the previous model to three subtle sections nestling at the bottom of the doors.

But it is the interior and particularly the ride of the distinctively styled hatchback where the transformation really shows through.

The original C4 Cactus oozed personality and Citroën was obviously keen to build on that quirky style with a significant increase in comfort.

So in has come a set of so-called advanced comfort seats which have bolstered support, extra padding and height adjustment for the driver and the front passenger.

The distinctive interior continues with its retro-styled, hinged rear windows and its design theme of executive luggage, with wide straps acting as door handles and a glovebox that mimics an upmarket suitcase.

More important than that, the car now rides on a new suspension system. Some of my passengers who were blissfully unaware of the ‘progressive hydraulic cushions’ and other changes that had been made to the suspension, quickly picked up on the floating ride that soaked up all but the worst flaws in road surface.

All that makes for a five-door, five seater that is not only compact, nippy and easy to manage in tight urban driving but is also extremely comfortable on longer runs.

The C4 Cactus interior houses one of the most minimalist dashboards on the market, dominated by a seven-inch colour touchscreen that controls everything from satellite navigation and audio to Bluetooth telephone link, climate control and connected apps.

The virtually button-free dashboard has been achieved by the touchscreen and by handing a wide variety of functions over to voice control that is activated by tapping a button on the end of the left-hand stalk.

UK buyers are being given a choice of two specification levels and four distinct interior trim choices ranging from wild grey to 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.

Engine choice includes three three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines of varying power outputs and a BlueHDi diesel, as well as the latest generation six-speed automatic gearbox.

Power on the test car came from the 110 horsepower petrol version that delivers lively acceleration, relaxed cruising and with my 300-mile mix of dual carriageway and cross-country roads, the prospect of 50mpg fuel consumption.

The car driven here was priced at just under £20,000, with metallic paint, blind spot monitoring, ‘smart access’ pack and front parking sensors, pushing the on-the-road total to more than £22,000.

The car came with a panoramic sunroof but it lacked any sort of blind, making the air conditioning work even harder in this hot spell.

No fewer than a dozen driving assistance systems have been packed in, most of them designed to improve safety. I won’t list them all, but they include a camera-operated system that detects obstacles and automatically applies the brakes when a risk of a crash is detected.

Another system that recognises speed signs and displays the information on the instrument panel can also be linked to the speed limiter/cruise control.

A lane departure warning system detects the accidental crossing of continuous or dotted white lines and warns you with both a sound and display in the instrument panel.

Other little electronic helpers include a driver attention alert, a coffee break alert that sounds if you have been driving for two hours without a rest and a reversing camera.

While the Cactus maintains its individual character and idiosyncratic interior, it now offers an altogether more upmarket experience and a classier ride.

Auto facts

Model: Citroën C4 Cactus Flair PureTech 110 manual

Price: £22,390 as tested

Insurance group: 15E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 55.4mpg

Top speed: 122mph

Length: 416.9cm/164.1in

Width: 197.9cm/77.9in

Luggage capacity: 12.6 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres

CO2 emissions: 104 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles