Citroen's Picasso's a breath of fresh air and deserves to clean up in its class
There’s so much to like about the C4 Picasso. It’s full of radical ideas, but doesn’t forget the basics – there’s lots of space and the layout is very versatile. Although it’s not for sporty drivers, families will love it. With sharp looks, a refined and punchy diesel, plus a price tag highly likely to be reduced by cashback deals, it’s the best seven-seat MPV in its class.
The renaissance at Citroen is virtually complete. Design flair is back, and so is innovation. Just take a look at the C4 Picasso. Not only is the new MPV stylish, but it's spacious, versatile and full of clever thinking, too.
It certainly impressed us when we drove the 2.0-litre petrol-engined model in Issue 927. But the 1.6-litre diesel is expected to be the most popular variant, so how does it shape up?
With 240Nm of torque, it's more responsive than its unleaded stablemate, and doesn't have to be revved hard to give peppy performance. It's frugal, too, returning 50mpg on the combined cycle. It works quite well with Citroen's new six-speed semi-auto gearbox, which provides smooth shifts (with practice) in manual mode through steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The full automatic transmission is still a bit jerky, though. And, costing an estimated £200 extra over the conventional manual version, it won't be to all drivers' tastes. However, it frees up the centre console, making room for a handy fridge to be fitted.
Indeed, all C4 Picassos offer other similarly neat ideas, such as lights under the door mirrors to improve access in the dark. There's lots of space inside, while each seat in the middle row flips and slides forward, giving good access to the rearmost chairs. Pull a few cords and all the seats fold flat into the floor, creating 1,951 litres of luggage space. Build quality is reassuringly solid and although equipment levels are not yet finalised, the SX is expected to have cruise control, alloy wheels, an automatic parking brake, hill-start assist and a split tailgate as standard.
The C4 Picasso isn't sporty, but it's very comfortable. The suspension (aided by optional pneumatic rear dampers on our test car) soaks up bumps with ease, and it all adds up to a brilliantly capable people carrier.