Citroen Picasso Exclusiv e-Hdi 115 - Call this progress? They really should slam the brakes on it
Thursday 19 December 2013
In his thought-provoking study of modern materialism How Much is Enough?, the biographer of economist John Maynard Keynes, Robert Skidelsky, posits the notion that, at this stage of human development, we should not worry too much about further accumulation of goods and wealth. It's not a new idea. In 1930, Keynes himself looked around and saw the Model T Ford, radio, the vacuum cleaner, the talkies – and took the view that there was a sufficiency of modernity. And you might remember what Jesus said about this sort of thing.
Today, Keynes, or Jesus for that matter, would look around and find the Citroen C4 Picasso as fresh confirmation that having more really is almost an end in itself, and sometimes counter-productive. I refer, in particular, to the electric parking brake. These, as is traditional with motoring technology, made their debut on much more expensive cars than this Picasso, but "trickled down" to relatively modest family transport, as here. I think they are an example, to move from Jesus and John Maynard Keynes to Hans Christian Anderson, of The Emperor's New Clothes; an innovation that the consensus views as progress on the old mechanical lever, but which in fact is nothing of the sort. Years ago, I recall, they used to fit tiny little wipers to the headlamps of cars, before we realised they were hopeless: the electric parking brake is the same sort of thing.
Hence, in the Picasso I did feel as though I was suffering a Keynesian surfeit of sophistication, because, try as I might, the electric parking brake just wasn't usable. You have to apply and disapply it as you set off in a very particular order, or else the car starts screaming at you. Matters are not aided by the in-traffic stop-start system. This requires you to depress the clutch all the way down before it will start the engine up again. All the way down. Failure to hit the floor will leave you in a lurch, literally. The semi-automatic gearbox option is also, by all accounts, a bit clumsy. And then it starts screaming at you again.
Unusually for an old French model (and I don't mean BB, BTW), you still see quite a few of the original egg-shaped Xsara Picassos around. The old shape is almost classic. This latest version is a bit mean and ugly-looking, with slitty headlights and characterless back end. The latest Picasso tries much harder to be avant-garde and technically advanced, and fails. Plus it has a name like a pedigree dog. Where's the progress?
Citroen Picasso Exclusiv e-Hdi 115 Airdream 6-speed manual
Price: Range from £17,500 (£23,999 as tested)
Engine capacity: 1560cc turbo-charged diesel
Power output (hp @ rpm): 114@3,600
Top speed (mph): 117
0-62 mph (seconds): 11.8
Fuel economy (mpg): 70.6
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...