For a five-seat MPV, the C4 Picasso is surprisingly good-looking and, dare we say it, quite elegant. That’s thanks, in large part, to the sleek front end, with the slim headlights and daytime running lights linked by the chrome details that incorporate the company’s chevrons. Other neat touches include the panoramic windscreen that extends further than in other cars – almost over the heads of the front-seat occupants – the C-shaped chrome trim around the side windows (on Exclusive models), and the LED rear lights. Last, but not least, every model in the range comes with alloy wheels as standard.
The huge glass area makes the cabin light and airy; and, if you want still more light, you can specify an optional glass sunroof. The two-tone dashboard is made of good-quality materials and its unusual design is dominated by the two large screens in the centre, set one above the other. The lower one is a touch-screen infotainment unit that is standard on every model, while the upper screen contains your instruments. This is an LCD display on most models, but on Exclusive models and above it’s a full-colour HD unit. Either way, it all adds up to a very modern-looking cabin, although it’s not quite so impressive in use. The touch-screen system, in particular, is rather awkward.
In terms of passenger space, there’s no faulting the C4 Picasso: not only is there plenty of room (and a wide range of adjustments) in the front seats, each one of the three individual rear seats can slide and recline, as well as providing plenty of head- and legroom, and having ISOFIX mounting points. With all the seats upright, the boot capacity is 537 litres – more than in a Ford C-Max – and it grows by almost 100 litres when you push the rear seats right forward; fold all the seats down and you have 1851 litres to play with, making this bigger than a Renault Scenic. On top of that, there are also several other useful storage compartments dotted all around the cabin
Ride and handling
You might expect an MPV to be fairly soggy in the way it drives, but the C4 Picasso certainly isn’t. In fact, the Citroen has surprisingly stiff suspension – occasionally a little too stiff, it’s true – but the benefit of that is that it doesn’t roll too much in bends and handles very neatly. Admittedly, the steering is rather light at speed, which will be a little disconcerting for keener drivers, but it does at least mean that it’s very easy to manoeuvre the car around town.
So far, we’ve only driven one version of the C4 Picasso – the e-HDi 115. This is expected to be the top-seller and it’s easy to see why. With peak torque coming at less than 2000rpm, it makes for refined and easy progress, and the car feels quicker than the 11.8-second 0-62mph time suggests. Our only mild complaint is that the long (in the interests of economy) gearing means that you only ever use the top gears when cruising on the motorway. The quickest version is the THP 155, which will complete the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in just nine seconds.
The best fuel economy and lowest emissions – 74.3mpg and 98g/km of CO2 – come with the HDi 90 version, which makes this one of the cleanest MPVs. However, given that the more powerful HDi 115 isn’t that much dearer to buy and not far behind for economy and emissions, we think that makes a better buy. The cheapest models are the petrol-engined cars, and both average around 45mpg, which is a little less than the equivalent Ford C-Max Ecoboost.
Reliability has never been one of Citroen’s strong points, and the previous C4 Picasso was below average according to figures from Warranty Direct. However, more recently, the company’s products have been more impressive, and with this C4 Picasso being based on a new platform, it’s possible that the new C4 Picasso could prove more reliable.
The C4 Picasso earned the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, and among the standard equipment on every model are twin front, side and curtain airbags, as well as Electronic Stability Control and cruise control. Standard on top Exclusive+ models, and optional on Exclusive, are Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Alert and a Blind Spot Monitoring system.
Even the most basic VTR models come with remote central locking, alloy wheels, four electric windows, air-conditioning and a touch-screen control system. Upgrade to VTR+ (our preferred trim) and the car also comes with automatic lights and wipers, extra stowage, DAB radio and rear parking sensors. Exclusive brings classier trim inside, sat-nav, extra chrome trim and a 12-inch HD display. Top-spec Exclusive+ models come with extra safety kit, a panoramic sunroof and massaging front seats. Beyond that, there are several option packs, which bundle together various options, although most are available only on one trim level rather than across the full range.
With a blend of stylish good looks, plenty of space for five inside and low running costs on some models, the C4 Picasso is one of the best five-seat MPVs.