Citroën C3 Picasso 1.6HDi VTR+

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Price: £14,645

Top speed: 108 mph, 0-62 mph in 13.5 seconds

Fuel consumption: 62.8 mpg

CO2 emissions: 119 g/km (Band B road licence, £35)

Rivals: Citroën Berlingo, Kia Soul, Vauxhall Meriva

Citroën's range is becoming more and more complicated. Once, a C3 was a C3 was a C3, but now the third rung of the Citroën is getting crowded. The original C3, now renamed C3 First, is still there, as is the open-topped C3 Pluriel with its unusual demountable roof; these have now been joined by an all-new standard C3, while a similarly-sized up-market city car aimed at competing with the Mini, the DS3 will be launched shortly.

As if that weren't enough, there's also a C3 people-carrier, or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), the C3 Picasso, the car tested here. But the C3 Picasso isn't the only Picasso in Citroën line-up; there's the original Picasso, which is based on the old Xsara, and used to be called the Xsara Picasso, and two different sizes of C4 Picasso as well. And Citroën offers lots of other MPVs too, from the slightly smaller Nemo to the bigger Berlingo and C8, as well passenger-carrying Combi versions of the Dispatch and Relay vans. No wonder Citroën's website offers a so-called MPV Finder designed to guide potential customers through all that confusing choice.

If the MPV finder points you in the direction of the C3 Picasso, though, you're unlikely to be disappointed. The C3 Picasso offers a huge amount of interior space in relation to the amount of road it takes up, confirming once again the advantages of a tall package in which occupants sit comparatively upright. While the C3 Picasso's exterior styling is comparatively sober by past Citroën standards, the interior shows evidence that the French manufacturer is recovering some of its previous design flair. The windscreen, for example, is huge, and combined with the high seating position, means that visibility, aided by the exceptionally thin foremost pillars, is excellent. The main instruments are grouped in a pod on top of the dash; of particular interest is the large digital LCD speedometer readout, which through some sort of unexplained cleverness appears to be far more legible than others of its type even in conditions such as strong sunlight.

And remember that Germanic build quality Citroën kept on going on about when it introduced the latest C5 a year or two back? The C3 Picasso feels a lot more solidly put together than previous small Citroëns, an impression that was only slightly undermined by the grudging performance of our test car's windscreen wipers and washers during the admittedly very severe recent cold spell.

On the road, the C3 Picasso acquits itself well for a practical load carrier that's not particularly aimed at sportier drivers. The 1.6HDi engine fitted to our test car is shared with millions of Peugeots, Citroëns, Fords and Volvos and is smooth and powerful for its size and type, although perhaps not quite as refined in the C3 Picasso as it is when mounted in some more expensive cars.

So, in all, the C3 Picasso is a good effort, but if you are interested, make sure you ask for the right thing when you get to the showroom – I bet Citroën's sales staff find the company's burgeoning model range as confusing as the customers do.

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