Motoring review: Citroën C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi VTR+
Is the new Picasso evidence of a renaissance at Citroën?
Price: £20,255 (range from £17,500)
Engine: 1,560cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbodiesel, 115bhp
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Performance: 117mph, 0-62 in 11.8 seconds, 70.6mpg, CO2 104g/km
You see Citroën DS3s everywhere. This smallest car in the covetable-looking DS range has been a rollicking success, making the right sort of Citroën a cool car to own. Mainstream Citroëns, by contrast, have languished in the grey background of discounts and personality bypasses, a sad outcome for a marque once famed for doing things differently.
This, it seems, is about to change. Regular Citroëns, the ones with the C-prefix, are to regain their flair. The company that until recently turned its back on one of the deepest creative legacies in the industry had, in its backdrop to the press presentation of the new C4 Picasso, pictures of an Ami 6 – a car which looked like a Gerald Scarfe cartoon of Harry Potter's Ford Anglia.
This Picasso, the third incarnation of Citroën's compact MPV, is the first of a new breed of "C-line" cars. It looks futuristic but friendly, it contains much touch-screen gadgetry, and is the first car in the Peugeot-Citroën empire to be built on a modular understructure called Efficient Modular Platform 2. The platform's clever construction helps make this C4 Picasso an impressive 140kg lighter than the last one, as well as slightly smaller outside and roomier inside.
It has a slinky front end with narrow daytime running lights under a chrome strip where you would expect the headlights to be; the latter are mounted lower down. The wheels are pushed towards the corners, reducing the bulbous nose that troubles so many modern cars built around crash-test rules. The tailgate is so wide that it includes the entire complement of rear lights, giving a broad load-space opening, while a vast glass roof panel lights the cabin of grander versions.
The stand-out feature, though, is the way information is displayed on two giant screens. The upper shows the speedometer and other dials as a smartphone-type display. You can, in phone fashion, even load favourite pictures into this display. The screen below handles sat-nav, sounds and the air-conditioning system by means of menus and dabs of the finger. This would be fine except that if you're using the sat-nav and you want to be warmer, cooler or receiving air from a different outlet, it takes several screen stabs to get the right menu, make the change and return to navigation. I'd rather go straight to a physical control knob and not take my eyes off the road.
The three separate rear seats can slide, recline and fold down flat, and in the higher Exclusive models, both rows of seats feature a leather trim whose pattern continues across all three as though, visually, one large sofa. It's part of what Citroën regards as the automotive version of "loft living"; fortunately, the Picasso has brought back another past Citroën speciality in its relaxed ride, which goes well with the notion of a deep-cushioned sofa.
As for the driving pleasure, this is clearly of secondary importance. The version likely to be the most popular, the 1.6-litre, 115bhp turbodiesel, might be very economical but it feels feeble on hills. The 156bhp turbo petrol is much livelier but thirstier. Both the Picassos I tried had light steering, a slightly lugubrious demeanour in corners and snatchy brakes.
Despite that, I like the C4 Picasso a lot, for its comfort, its good looks, its usefulness and, most of all, for the renaissance it looks set to represent. Welcome back, proper Citroëns.
Life & Style blogs
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
NHS medics are being lured away to Australia by more money, status and sunshine, survey suggests
Mac OS X Yosemite download: How to get the open beta of Apple's latest operating system
Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...