Citroen C4 Picasso Lounge driven

5 Mar, 2008 4:03am

Luxurious flagship joins the popular compact MPV line-up. But does a four-seat people carrier miss the point?

Verdict

3
The Lounge is an interesting move by Citroen. The fact the firm is trying to mix with more prestigious rivals shows a self-confidence in its products. This Picasso is capable, superbly specced and a comfortable car in which to soak up the motorway miles. Its punchy diesel engine also blends decent refinement and economy. However, the slow-speed ride, impractical seating arrangement and cost may deter some customers.

Citroen really has got junior MPVs down to a fine art. The C4 Picasso represents attractive and innovative fam­ily transport, and it’s great value, too.

But the French firm believes there is room for a more exclusive variant – one that blends all the style with greater luxury. Enter the new range-topping C4 Picasso Lounge.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Citroen C4 Picasso

Designed solely for sale in the UK market, the Lounge is only available with the 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic trans­mission. It adds £1,900 to the price of the Exclusive model on which it’s based – which means the newcomer weighs in at a rather hefty £23,995.

Climb inside, and it’s immediately obvious where the money is spent. The standard five-seat Picasso interior has been replaced by four individual leather-trimmed chairs, each featuring adjust­able head and armrests.

Sound-insulating laminated glass in the side windows boosts refinement, while a full-length sunroof adds welcome brightness to the otherwise monochrome cabin finish.

On the outside, changes are kept simple – you can have your Lounge in any colour as long as it’s black. Chrome is very much the order of the day, with a thin strip highlighting the undulating side window profile, while the finishing touches are provided by a special front grille and polished 18-inch alloys.

The driving position is very upright, so some owners may struggle to get comfortable. Selecting Drive using the slender column-mounted stick is simple, but the electronic handbrake takes a frustrating 10 seconds to disengage.

Once up and running, the Picasso is slow to convert the engine’s power into forward motion, leading to jerky acceleration from a standstill.

At motorway speeds, it’s much more impressive. The torquey engine pulls smoothly, inspiring confidence when overtaking, and the ride is as cosseting as you expect from the brand.

But overall, the driving experience is compromised for a car that’s intended to pamper its four occupants. So while the Lounge is an intriguing con­cept, Citroen top brass might find that – as with the Avantime from rival Renault – buyers aren’t particularly drawn towards a model with the size but not the practicality of an MPV.

Rival: Vauxhall Signum
Generous kit and competitive prices set the Signum apart. But it’s let down by its gruff 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, ageing Vectra underpinnings and oddball looks.

Key specs

* Price: £23,995
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, turbodiesel
* Power: 138bhp
* 0-62mph: 12.1 seconds
* Top speed: 118mph
* Econ/CO2: 38.2mpg/195g/km
* Standard equipment: Six airbags, climate control, chrome exterior trim, full leather upholstery,
* 18-inch polished alloy wheels
* On sale: Now

AEX 1330
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