The C3 Picasso is a timely arrival, a compact but impressively packaged family wagon with very decent driving manners
Times are tough, as everyone knows, but there are moments when you have to laugh. Such as during the Spanish seaside launch of Citroën’s new C3 Picasso, when a straight-faced executive told us earnestly, that this was not just a car, it was “the anti crisis weapon”. It was a reminder of the high hopes Citroen has for its newly-hatched, boxy-shaped small MPV, designed in France but built in the Czech Republic.
The C3 Picasso is a timely arrival, a compact but impressively packaged family wagon with very decent driving manners. It looks well placed to capitalise on the growing trend for downsizing in a beleaguered new car market. It’s a bit of a Tardis – quite a bit roomier inside than you expect from the outside. The light and airy cabin, especially so with an optional full-length panoramic glass roof, is generously spacious, with plenty of knee and shoulder room all round. With a 6ft 3in driver behind the wheel, another six-footer can sit comfortably behind. Headroom is excellent in the front seats and not bad in the back unless you’re extremely tall.
Modularity is a strong feature of this car. The rear seats slide fore and aft and are slightly raised, opera-style, to give passengers in the back a better view. The back seat row slide-folds down to leave a completely flat floor for loading lots of kit into the back. The front passenger seat-back also folds. Standard boot space is an impressive 500 litres under the parcel shelf. With the seats down and the shelf removed and tucked under the boot floor (it’s dual level, with hidden stowage), the C3 Picasso can carry 1,500 litres of luggage, which is 150 more than the rival Renault Grand Modus. Slim front pillars and a wraparound windscreen give great visibility out of the front of the car. The rear pillars are very fat (for strength) but the deep rear screen ensures a very good rear view.
Citroën chose a launch route that included town traffic, motorways and a twisty hillside section of a World Rally Championship stage. It showed off the car to very good effect. The C3 Picasso not only has a pliant ride, but it corners far flatter than you might expect of a tallish car of this type. Never mind anti-crisis, thanks to its minimal body roll, anti-carsickness is the attribute that will endear it to families with young children.
There are three trim levels: VT, VTR+ and Exclusive. You can choose between two 1.6 litre HDi engines, the 92 and 110. Citroën expects the lower powered version to be the bigger seller, but it’s not the one to go for. It sounds hard-worked and becomes a bit raucous through the gears. By comparison the 110 is much more refined and the more agreeable to drive.
The steering has reasonable feel, handling is grippy and there is little wind noise over the body. Gear change quality is good, but it’s a five speed ‘box and you sometimes find yourself wishing for an extra cog.
- Engine: 1560cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 109bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 192lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,200kg
- Combined Consumption: 57.6mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 130g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 11.2secs
- Max speed: 114mph
- Insurance Group: tba