17/02/2007 00:00 | By Kyle Fortune, contributor, MSN Cars

Citroen C4 Picasso review (2006 onwards)



Citroen C4 Picasso (© Citroen)

What: Citroen C4 Picasso
Where: Gerona, Spain
Date: Feb 2007
Price: from £14,500 est
Available: spring
Key rivals: Ford Focus C-Max, VW Touran, Renault Scenic, Mazda 5, Vauxhall Zafira, Fiat Multipla

Read more Citroen reviews

Summary

Citroen adds yet another MPV to its range and it is the most stylish family-hauler we have seen in a while. Great diesel engines, a respectable drive and decent practicality add up to a promising family car - even more so when the inevitable discounting starts.

Likes: head-turning styling, decent ride, excellent practicality and light, airy interior Dislikes: hopeless automated manual transmission, fussy switches around the steering wheel, digital speedometer

Maximum MPV confusion

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

You could be forgiven for thinking we have reviewed the C4 Picasso before. We have, but confusingly that seven-seat car is now going to be badged Grand C4 Picasso. This new five-seater car will take its C4 Picasso name, and join the Xsara Picasso to give Citroen a three-tiered Picasso line-up. Confused? You have good reason to be. One thing that makes it easier though is the C4 Picasso’s styling. Sure, it shares its nose with its Grand C4 Picasso relative, but every other body panel is different. And, we’ll admit, it is one of the most stylish cars we have seen in a while.

Running to dealerships…

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

So stylish in fact that it wouldn’t be surprising to us if the C4 Picasso has people running from rivals’ dealerships. And not just as an alternative to its compact MPV rivals, but regular hatchbacks and small estates, too. Inside it is very much in the tradition of quirky Citroens of old. There are a number of unusual features, but it is the huge amount of light that floods the cabin area that is immediately obvious. This makes the C4 Picasso feel very airy indeed, it a result of the Visiospace windscreen, a huge glass area that does not stop where you would expect it to, instead it reaching above your forehead.

Driven: Citroen C4 Picasso

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

That enormous windscreen combined with slim pillars, gives you a fantastic panoramic view of the road ahead. It is not just those in the front who benefit from a good view either, as the side windows are huge too. Opt for the glass roof and you will feel like you are sitting in a mobile conservatory. Other oddities include an electronic handbrake, a completely button-free central console and the fixed-hub steering wheel surrounded by the numerous buttons for information, entertainment and options like cruise control and hands-free phones. Opt for either of the automatic choices and you can add paddle-shifters around the steering wheel too.

Unnecessary complication

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

We admire what Citroen is trying to achieve, but the clustering of all the buttons around the steering wheel makes it very messy, and it is not that easy to use. Simple and clean as the rest of the fascia is, a few buttons would not mess it up too much. Similarly the positioning of the large digital speedo is frustrating. On cars with sat nav it is positioned in the large middle console off to the left. In the left-hand-drive cars it is obscured by your hands on the wheel, and in the same position in UK cars it is far too far away to be glanced at quickly and easily.

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

The electronic handbrake button is one button that is not around the wheel, instead it is situated high up in the centre console, meaning a stretch across the dash to operate it. The most frustrating aspect of the C4 Picasso though is its EGS (electronic gearbox system) gearbox, which, thankfully, isn’t the only transmission choice. Citroen suggests we should not consider the EGS as an automatic. That is just as well, as if we had an automatic that shifted as clumsily we would take it back for repairs. In fairness it works well enough if you drive it with the paddles, but if you need to drive it anyway the standard manual makes more sense.

Smallest engine the best

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

There is a regular six-speed automatic mated to the 2.0-litre HDI turbodiesel, its smoothness further highlighting the hopeless automatic shift of the EGS. It does though demonstrate the automatic’s consumption and emissions penalty, it drinking 38.2mpg on the combined cycle compared to the 46.3mpg of the EGS. CO2 emissions are far higher too; at 195g/km the auto is some 36g/km higher than the EGS. So if you want a conventional auto the environment pays. You can forget either though, as the 1.6-litre HDI turbodiesel with the standard five-speed manual transmission is the best all-round choice.

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

Opt for the small engine simple gearbox option and you will not lose out in performance. The five-speed manual might not be the slickest out there, but the 1.6-litre’s 110bhp actually feels more vigorous than the 138bhp of the 2.0-litre turbodiesels. The numbers back this up, the 1.6 managing the 0-62mph sprint just 0.1 seconds behind the 2.0-litre HDI EGS with a time of 12.5 seconds. The petrol engines better the diesels in the 0-62mph sprints, but they lack their easy and plentiful torque, making them less relaxing to drive. Neither can they offer the sort of 45+mpg economy of the turbodiesels.

Five seats and practical, too

Citroen C4 Picasso (© Image © Citroen)

And economy should be what the C4 Picasso should be about. After all this is a sensible family car, with all the tumbling and folding individual seats you would expect in a five-seat compact MPV. There is a huge boot too, and enough airbags and Isofix child seat fittings to ensure that the most precious of cargos is safe in the Picasso. Yet it’s not all about being sensible, as the C4 Picasso is actually an enjoyable drive, with a roll free stance through the bends and decent ride quality. With prices around £500 less than its seven-seat relative, and the likelihood of discounts in the near future, the C4 Picasso makes a very convincing case for itself.

The MSN Cars verdict ****

Fantastic looks, excellent versatility and a light airy cabin make the C4 Picasso a very appealing choice in not just the compact MPV market, but also among regular family hatchbacks. Just be sure to avoid that EGS transmission.

Ratings out of five: Citroen C4 Picasso £14,500 (est)
Performance
***
Ride & handling***
Interior***
Safety****
Price****
Practicality****
Fuel economy****
MSN Cars verdict****

Need to know

Petrol engines1.8, 2.0
Diesel engines1.6, 2.0
Power (bhp)110 - 143
Torque (lb/ft)125 - 250
0-62mph (secs)11.3 –13.2
Top speed (mph)112 - 121
Combined mpg31.7 – 49.6
CO2 (g/km)/Tax band (%)150/20 – 211/29

Used Citroen Xsara Picassos
Read more Citroen reviews

0Comments

Latest Cars videos

10 reasons to make MSN UK your homepage (© Microsoft)

More on msn Cars