Citroen C4 Picasso review
Citroen’s mid-sized C4 Picasso aims for the higher end of the compact MPV market
The Citroen C4 Picasso first launched in 1999 badged as the Xsara Picasso, before becoming part of the C4 range in 2006. That car was on sale for seven years, and was replaced by an all-new model in 2013 – with the seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso later going on to take ‘Best MPV’ honours in the Auto Express New Car Awards 2014.
Available with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, the basic three-cylinder PureTech 130 comes fitted with a turbocharger for lower running costs and better performance. It’s only available on the entry level VTR and VTR+ trims, but it’s a great little engine and comes fitted with Citroen’s S&S stop start as standard.
Elsewhere in the range you’ll find a 98bhp BlueHDi 100, as well as a more powerful 118bhp version. Top-spec cars also get the option of a 148bhp engine, and a 163bhp THP petrol. The latter is only available with the EAT6 automatic gearbox.
Trims range from the basic VTR, through VTR+, Exclusive and Exclusive+, while the mid-spec Picasso Selection is a special edition that comes loaded with extra kit such as a panoramic roof as standard.
Citroen also offers the Grand C4 Picasso, which comes with seven seats, but interestingly, was not launched simultaneously with its smaller, five-seater cousin in 2013.
The latest C4 Picasso is the first car to be based on Peugeot/Citroen’s new EMP2 platform. This new technology helps reduce the car’s weight by 140kg to a total of just 1,252kg; the same weight as Citroen’s smaller C3 Picasso.
In recent years, Citroen has undergone a rebirth and in a trend not too dissimilar from its heyday, is once again producing quirky, high quality cars. The C4 Picasso is no different. The egg shape of the original remains, but the the distinctive front end sets it apart from its more conservative rivals, and the interior boasts a premium, high-quality finish which allows the C4 Picasso take on upmarket rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf SV and Ford C-Max.
Our choice: Exclusive e-HDi 115
Engines, performance and drive
Citroen’s cars have always tended to be comfortable and the C4 Picasso is no exception to the rule.
The C4 Picasso moves with little road, engine and wind noise at any speed and its soft, yet supportive seats add to the overall feeling of relaxation that surrounds it.
Citroen offers a range of petrol and diesel engines, from the basic 1.2-litre turbocharged PureTech, to the range topping BlueHDi 150. The basic petrol is actually one of the best, feeling hushed around town, but punchy enough on the open road – making overtaking simple and straightforward.
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A possible downside to driving the C4 Picasso is that its gearshift can feel notchy at times, and while the large, thick-rimmed steering wheel delivers positive turn-in, its feedback could be better.
There’s a fair amount of body roll in corners, and the major controls provide little feedback. However, steering remains direct and precise, plus there’s plenty of grip and body control is good, despite the noticeable lean.
Elsewhere, the panoramic windscreen and thin A-pillars offer unparalleled visibility, while controls on the wheel are easy to grasp. The only frustration is the central touchscreen, which is fiddly and occasionally unresponsive.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The C4 Picasso is based on the new EMP2 platform shared by Citroen, Peugeot and General Motors for a variety of mid-sized and compact cars. The platform, made of steel and aluminium plus a raft of revised engines, make the C4 Picasso more efficient than ever.
The most economical model is the BlueHDi 100, which despite the MPV’s size, emits just 99g/km of CO2. It’ll supposedly do 74.3mpg – no mean feat for such a large car. Our choice would be the larger BlueHDi 120, which is still tax-free (100g/km) yet feels much faster day-to-day.
In terms of petrol engines, even the brilliant PureTech 130 will return 56.5mpg and emit just 115g/km of CO2 for £30 annual road tax. If you spend most your time in town, this is the car we’d go for. The most expensive and most powerful THP 165 emits 130g/km or 134g/km depending on trim – but should nudge 50mpg in mixed motoring.
As well as displaying impressive economy figures, Citroen has stuck to its ethos of offering a lot of car for the money, and offers a three-year, 35,000-mile servicing package for under £500.
Citroen also offers so impressive additional kit at a reasonable price, such as massage seats, a panoramic sunroof, surround-view cameras and a powered tailgate.
The C4 Picasso’s predicted residual values are also good at 40.8 per cent, only slightly behind the VW Touran.
Interior, design and technology
If you thought MPVs were boring, the Citroen C4 Picasso might just change your mind. Citroen has adopted a bold, modern look for the car that seems certain to please buyers.
The high-set chevron grille and LED running lights which are combined with small headlamps and a wide lower air intake give the C4 Picasso’s rounded nose a futuristic look compared to some of its less adventurous rivals. Think of the front end of any of Citroen’s recent concept cars, and you’ll be half right.
The C4 Picasso’s rear-end is a little less futuristic as it’s not dissimilar to that of it’s predecessor, but overall, it fits in well with the rest of the car.
Citroen’s smart use of glass on the C4 Picasso carries on the futuristic feel established by the front-end, and the C-shaped silver window trim looks like something that could be found on one of Citroen’s upmarket DS models.
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Citroen has also taken styling cues from the DS range over to the C4 Picasso’s interior. The dashboard is a simple mixture of curves and angles, and has a centrally mounted instrument binnacle.
The touch-screen centre console has a quality feel that sees the C4 Picasso take the fight to rivals from Ford and VW, and it helps keep the dash free from excess clutter. The steering wheel, however, could feel over-complex to some drivers as it has a lot of buttons to navigate.
In general, the C4 Picasso feels well screwed together with decent plastics and comfortable seats. All models come with a panoramic windscreen that extends to just above the front seats, but blinds can be used to block out intrusive sunlight.
Citroen adds to the car’s airy and relaxed atmosphere, by making good use of a large glass area that includes quarter-light windows in the A-pillars that give the car a sense of space its rivals can’t quite match.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Unlike many of its rivals, the C4 gets a trio of identically sized seats in the back, so it can accommodate three Isofix child seats. Adults will find plenty of leg and headroom, while the completely flat floor means more space for feet. Exclusive+ models get individual climate controls in the rear, built-in roller blinds in the back doors and an extra ‘conversation mirror’ that allows the front duo to keep an eye on children behind them. Also included are fold-out picnic tables that are mounted to the front seatbacks.
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At the rear is a powered clamshell tailgate that lifts out of the way to reveal a wide opening and low load lip. Boot space can be extended from 537 to 630 litres by sliding the rear bench forward, while folding the seats presents a completely flat load area and a vast, 1,851-litre capacity. The boot light also doubles as a neat handheld rechargeable torch.
Storage is another strong point in the Citroen. For instance, there’s a large bin under the centre console, complete with a 12V power supply and USB, as well as underfloor cubbies in the rear footwells, drawers under the front seats, deep door bins and lots of cup-holders. Unfortunately, a big fusebox renders the glove compartment almost useless.
Reliability and Safety
The C4 Picasso feels pretty solid, thanks to its tried-and-tested mechanicals, but it must be faultess if Citroen is to shake off its reputation for patchy reliability.
Citroen finished in 20th place overall in the 2015 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. While that may not sound too great, it’s actually a six place improvement over 2014 – with owners praising the brand’s brilliant running costs. Poor scores for build quality, performance, road handling and ease of driving let it down.
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The C4 Picasso placed 77th in the individual model rankings, placing well for practicality, ride quality and – of course – running costs. There’s still room for improvement though, with crossovers like the Skoda Yeti, Honda CR-V and BMW X3 all featuring in the top 30.
It is safe, though. Euro NCAP handed the Picasso five stars for safety, as all cars have six airbags, stability control and a speed limiter. Exclusive+ adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision alert and blind-spot monitoring. Lane-departure warning and adaptive headlamps are part of the £300 Serenity Pack, while surround-view cameras are £450 more.