Citroen Picasso

With a new version of the MPV on the scene, now is a good time to land a bargain on the old model. We look at what’s on offer...

Seemingly endless cashback deals make the Citroen Xsara Picas­so cracking value new – and ensure used examples are cheap. You get space, comfort, refinement and low running costs in an affordable package, and with the arrival of the new model, second-hand prices will take a further tumble. To help you find a good one, our buying guide tells you everything you need to know.

Checklist Instruments: the digital display is prone to throwing tantrums, as is the switchgear, so check everything operates properly. For instance, do the stalks and temperature gauge work correctly? They’re potentially costly to fix, so being thorough could save you money.

Spare wheel: the spare wheel sits in a cradle under the car, and because there’s no security mechanism, it’s a soft target for thieves. Make sure it’s still there and check out www.ospreyproducts.co.uk for a suitable lock.

Engine: the best Picassos come with HDi diesel engines, but these suffer problems with the injection system, as well as the ECU. They can be frustrating to put right, so make sure you take a test drive to check everything is working properly.

Bumpers: some models have parking sensors fitted, but even if your car has them, pay close attention to its bumpers. Judging where the sloping front and rear ends stop is tricky at the best of times, and scrapes are commonplace.

Electrics: clever multiplex wiring system fitted to the Picasso was designed to improve reliability. In reality it’s more problematic than a traditional wiring loom, so check that everything from the central locking to the wipers works as it should.

Prices About £2,500 will bag you an early petrol Picasso, but it will have covered 100,000 miles, so spend closer to £5,000 for a 50,000-mile car. That should get you a 52-plate 1.8-litre with 45,000 miles on the clock. A 2.0-litre petrol 52 car with the same mileage is about £6,300. The best Picassos have the 1.6-litre HDi diesel, and start from £7,000.

What to look for Don’t buy the 2.0 HDi, as the 1.6 HDi offers superior power and economy, and it’s worth the extra. There are lots of petrol Picassos available, but they can be slow, so make sure there’s enough performance on tap for your liking before taking the plunge.

Owner comment David King from Bourne, Lincs, is on his second Picasso, and wants another. “Both cars have been 1.6-litre petrol models. They’re well equipped but with relatively little in the way of gadgetry, so there’s nothing to go wrong. I like the driving position and cheap servicing, but wouldn’t mind a little more power. I’ll probably buy a diesel next time, so the depreciation isn’t as savage.”

Verdict

French cars are renowned for their ride comfort, and the Xsara Picasso certainly doesn’t disappoint in this area. Tidy handling ensures that it’s fairly good to drive, too. The imminent arrival of the new C4 Picasso means values of the old car are due to take a hit. The two models will continue to be sold alongside each other for a while yet, though, and that means getting hold of parts for the older car won’t be a problem. With more than 230,000 Picassos sold to date, you won’t have to look very far to find a decent second-hand example. We like the spacious interior, low purchase and running costs, generous equipment and frugal and refined diesel engines. Watch out for indifferent build quality, unsupportive seats, tired interiors and temperamental electrics

Recalls

Feb 2002: Foot brake linkage may become disconnected on vehicles built from Jan 2000 to Feb 2002.May 2003: Possible short circuit on 2.0 HDi models built Sep 2002 to Jan 2003.Aug 2003: Transposed wiring on airbag control unit of cars built between Sep 2002 and end Jan 2003.Oct 2003: Possible loss of acceleration on cars made from Mar-Jun 2003.Feb 2005: Abnormal wear on dashboard harness afflicting cars built between Oct and Nov 2003.Apr 2005: Fuel return pipe may leak on diesels made from Jul-Oct 2004.Jul 2005: Suspension springs may fail on cars made Apr 2000-Sep 2003.Jun 2006: Engine failure possible on cars made from end Feb-May 2004.

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