Citroen C4 Picasso review
The Citroen C4 Picasso is a stylish five-seat MPV that rivals the likes of the Ford C-MAX and Kia Carens
The Citroen C4 Picasso comes from a long line of MPVs that bear the artist's name. Citroen launched the Xsara Picasso MPV in 1999, and has since gone on to introduce both C3 and C4 models.
The latest C4 Picasso is based on an all-new platform, and is 140kg lighter than before – in fact, its kerbweight is now the same as that of the smaller C3 Picasso. But the new Citroen C4 Picasso also boasts a premium finish that's never been seen on the company's MPVs before, to help it take on more upmarket rivals such as the VW Touran. There are four trims - VTR, VTR+, Exclusive and Exclusive+.
As well as the five-seat C4 Picasso, there's a seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso but it's baffling that Citroen hasn't launched the Grand at the same time as the five-seater - especially as seven-seat MPVs are the norm these days. The Grand C4 Picasso is due to arrive in Citroen dealerships in early 2014.
Our choice: Exclusive e-HDi1 15
There’s no denying that the new Citroen C4 Picasso is distinctive. The high-set chevron grille and LED running lights, combined with the small headlamps and gaping lower air intake, give the rounded nose a futuristic look compared to its restrained rivals here. The large glass area is another highlight, while the C-shaped silver window trim looks like something you’d find on one of Citroen’s upmarket DS models. At the back, the rounded design is similar to that of its predecessor.
Inside, the influence of the DS range is obvious. The simple dashboard is a mixture of curves and angles, and has a centrally mounted instrument binnacle. The touch-sensitive centre console and screen have a quality feel, and help to keep the dash free from clutter. However, this is made up for by the steering wheel, which has a lot of buttons to navigate.
Overall the C4 Picasso feels well built, while decent plastics and comfortable seats add to its appeal. All models come with a panoramic windscreen that extends to just above the front seats – although there are blinds that can be pulled forward to block sunlight. The large glass area, which includes quarterlight windows in the A-pillars, means the interior has a sense of spaciousness that its competitors can’t match.
Comfort has always been a strong point for Citroens, and the new C4 Picasso maintains this tradition. It was the quietest of our trio on the move, with little road, engine and wind noise at any speed, while the soft yet supportive seats add to the feeling of relaxation.
The 1.6 e-HDi 115 engine has the best acceleration when compared with comparable rivals, partly due to the fact that the new car is around a lot lighter than the Renault Scenic and VW Touran, for example. The gearshift can feel notchy and while the large, thick-rimmed steering wheel delivers positive turn-in, feedback could be better. There’s a fair amount of body roll in corners, although it’s more controlled than some other five-seat MPVs.
Once you’re used to the centrally mounted instruments, the controls are easy to get along with and the view out of the cabin is great. But one niggle concerns the scrolling menus used on the touchscreen. It’s not easy to sweep your finger across the screen to choose the right function when you’re on the move, as this requires you to take your eyes off the road for too long. Although these touchscreen interfaces are becoming more common in new cars, the Citroen set-up isn’t as intuitive to use as the simple touchscreen buttons seen in the Touran, or the Scenic’s more conventional console-mounted control wheel and buttons.
This is an area where Citroen needs to raise its game, and the C4 Picasso has a major role to play. It’s the first car to boast the all-new EMP2 platform that Citroen, Peugeot and General Motors will use for a variety of compact and mid-sized cars, including the all-new Peugeot 308. Restoring the faith of Citroen’s customers will be an uphill struggle, if the results of our latest Driver Power satisfaction survey are anything to go by. The C4 Picasso placed 24th in our manufacturer rankings, while the company’s dealers came 27th. The previous C4 Picasso was 131st in our model ratings – miles behind the fourth-placed Renault Scenic. It looks more promising where safety is concerned, scoring 86 per cent for adult occupant protection in its five-star Euro NCAP test, and an excellent 88 per cent for child safety. One highlight of the car is that the back row of seats has three Isofix points. When you buckle up, the seatbelts pull automatically, Mercedes-style, to optimise passenger protection. However, they tug quite hard and can feel constrictive, if only briefly. Citroen has come in for criticism for electrical gremlins in the past, so the C4 Picasso’s touchscreens, TFT dashboard and electronic driver aids will all need to remain robust and reliable in order to instill confidence. We had no issues during our tests, but it’ll be interesting to see if everything is still working properly after a couple of years.
MPVs have practicality at the heart of their appeal, and the C4 Picasso makes a strong case for itself. Starting at the back, access is made simple by the clamshell tailgate with built-in lights, just like an Audi Q7’s. With the seats up, boot space can be varied from 537 to 630 litres by sliding them forwards or backwards, and the chairs fold to leave a completely flat load area. A maximum capacity of 1,851 litres isn’t quite on a par with the Volkswagen Touran’s, but at least you don’t have to remove the seats to achieve this. The rear chairs are all the same size, so there’s plenty of room for three adults when they’re pushed as far back as they’ll go. Exclusive cars get built-in roller blinds in the rear doors and a second wide-angle rear-view mirror, so you can keep an eye on all your passengers. Storage is also a strong point. The electric parking brake frees up space to accommodate a large storage bin under the centre console with 12v and USB sockets. As with the Renault Scenic, there are underfloor bins front and rear, plus drawers under the front seats, but fusebox intrusion means the glovebox is small.
A new platform made from aluminium and steel, plus revised engines, mean the C4 Picasso is more efficient than ever. If you’re after the most economical C4 Picasso, then you’ll want to go for the e-HDi 90 model. It boasts fuel economy of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km but feels a little slow from behind the wheel, with a 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds. It’s probably better to go for the e-HDi 115, which is much quicker but still claims 105g/km of CO2 and 70.6mpg. Citroen offers a three-year, 35,000-mile servicing package for just £449 or 36 monthly payments of £12.49.Built-in roller blinds, rear tables and keyless entry are all standard – which are costly upgrade packs on other MPVs. The Citroen’s options are reasonably priced, too, and include big-car kit such as massage seats, a panoramic sunroof, surround-view cameras and a powered tailgate. Another bonus is the C4 Picasso’s predicted residuals of 40.8 per cent – only slightly behind a VW Touran's.