A quirky French SUV you’ve probably never heard of has a dashboard strikingly similar to the one in Tesla's Model 3 — take a look

CitroenTesla-like.
  • The Tesla Model 3 is famous for its minimal interior and single, central touchscreen.
  • Other automakers are moving the same direction as Tesla with their designs.
  • They aren’t common in the US, but I found a very Model 3-esque setup in a Citroën C4 Cactus in Rome.
  • The Citroën C4 Cactus is a quirky French compact crossover SUV.

The reaction that a lot of people have when they first slip into a Tesla Model 3 is one of mild shock that there isn’t an instrument panel, nor much in the way of controls – just a large, central touchscreen that pretty much runs everything.

Revolutionary? Sort of.

Minimising visual instrumentation and in-car controls isn’t new, but Tesla has taken it to an extreme.

Other automakers have also taken the plunge. I was reminded of this recently when I visited Rome, rented a car, and wound up at a Citroën dealership. Citroën, in case you were wondering, is a French carmaker that’s been around since the early 20th century and has created some iconic vehicles, most famously the DS, which arrived in the mid-1950s.

Read more: I drove a $US29,000 Honda Insight hybrid to see how it stacks up against the mighty Toyota Prius – here’s what I discovered.

Citroën now sells a variety of modern vehicles, and one of the more interesting is the C4 Cactus, a small crossover SUV that has rubbery pillows on its sides, intended to alleviate scratches.

I didn’t rent one of these in Italy, but while I was waiting around at the dealership for a ride to an airport hotel after I returned my car, I checked out a bunch of vehicles I never see in the US. The C4 Cactus stood out. And it wasn’t just because of the padded sides.

Here’s a closer look at the C4 Cactus and other Tesla Model 3-esque minimalist interiors.


The Tesla Model 3! I reviewed the car a few months back.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Read the review.


The Model 3’s interior is insanely minimal. Almost no knobs or buttons, with the majority of functions handled by the center touchscreen.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Personally, I liked it. Takes some getting used to, but after a few days, you wonder why other vehicles are such buttonfests.

Matthew DeBord/BI

On to Rome!

Matthew DeBord/BI

Here’s the C4 Cactus. The Citroën badge is legendary: It’s a “double chevron” and is a reference to the teeth of an innovative gear designed by founder Andre Citroën.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Inside, you find a pair of screens, one for the instrument panel and one for infotainment.

Matthew DeBord/BI

Here’s the Citroen center screen in action.

Citroen

It’s got Apple CarPlay!

Citroen

In practice, they’re about as close to the Model 3’s setup as you can get in a modern automobile. I wasn’t able to try them out, but they signal a clear trend. In the coming years, look for other carmakers to follow Tesla’s lead and ditch the buttons and dials!

Citroen

For example, the Volvo XC40 (along with other current Volvo’s on the market) makes use of the automaker’s Sensus system, which features a large central touchscreen. The XC40 still has a traditional instrument panel, however.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The Toyota Prius has also put the digital panel in the middle of the dash, but it’s not a touchscreen.

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

For now, if I want Tesla-level commitment to screen overs gauges, I guess I’ll have to head for Europe.

Matthew DeBord/BI

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