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The new Citroën C4 Picasso impresses with improved quality and usability, but dynamics disappoint

Our Verdict

Citroën C4 Picasso

It might not be as dynamically accomplished as some of its rivals, but there's still lots to like about the new C4 Picasso

What is it?: 

The all-new Citroën C4 Picasso is still its maker's medium-sized MPV, but apart from the name, it shares little in common with the model it replaces.

It’s the first of more than 20 models that’ll use the new EMP2 platform from the PSA Peugeot Citroën group. Following the trend, the new model is claimed to be 140kg lighter than the old one, with half of that weight loss coming from the platform and the rest from a body construction that uses an aluminium bonnet and a composite tailgate. Launch models are five-seaters; a seven-seat version will come later in the year. 

The new platform allows the C4 Picasso to be 40mm shorter overall than before, but with a 55mm-longer wheelbase.

Citroën's rival to the Ford C-Max and Renault Scenic sends a strong message about what the company is planning for its renewed C-series models, both in terms of styling and engineering. A wild front end with slim LED daytime running lights makes it look a bit outlandish, but Citroën promises that from now on it's not only its DS models that will have a strong personality. 

What's it like?: 

We drove the 1.6 e-HDi diesel version with 115bhp, which is expected to be the best-seller. The engine has been updated with its compression ratio reduced to 16:1, new five-hole injectors, a new EGR valve and new pistons. Power is the same as before but there’s more available torque at low revs and fuel economy now hits a claimed 70mpg. Top speed is 117mph and the 0-62mph sprint takes 11.8sec.

The engine is nice responsiveness at low revs during city driving, and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and easy to operate. There’ll be an improved version of the old robotised ’box, too. It offers a tight turning circle of 10.8 metres, and visibility is good thanks to slim front pillars.

This, coupled to a typically high driving position, makes it an easy MPV to drive around town – as long as the Tarmac is smooth. If it’s not, the ride isn't as comfortable as you may expect.

On winding, the new C4 Picasso handles safely and predictably, although it fails to inspire. However, thanks to a lower centre of gravity it leans less than the old car and is more precise in every situation. The new car's increased torsional stiffness is also evident, but the steering lacks feel and understeer comes relatively soon, in turn putting the ESP to work in a most decided manner. Motorway cruising is much better, with low wind, engine and road noises.

This is a car more about its cabin than the joy of driving. Interior space impressed, particularly in the rear where you'll find three seats. These can be folded or slid forward, increasing boot capacity from 537 litres to 630 litres. The front passenger can also enjoy an optional 'Relax' package that includes an electrically operated calf rest, headrests with side flaps and even back massage.

The one stand-out in the new C4 Picasso is the increase in perceived quality. It's much better than the old model and could be the best Citroën yet in this regard.

A pair of digital monitors take care of all the on-board multimedia. A panoramic 12in screen includes all the usual driving instruments and sat-nav, and can be configured to show other information or even a picture uploaded by the owner. A separate 7in touchscreen with seven buttons commands everything else, from the air conditioning to internet access, which is made possible via a USB key.

Should I buy one?: 

If you’re looking for a roomy and versatile medium-size MPV with decent city performance and very good fuel economy, this might be the right car. Providing, that is, you can live with the UFO styling and don’t care much about driving dynamics.

Francisco Mota

Citroën C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi

Price: tba; 0-62 11.8sec; Top speed 117 mph: Economy 70mpg (combined); CO2 105g/km; Kerb weight 1298 kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Power 115bhp at 3600 rpm; Torque 200lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Comments
25

31 May 2013

There is, quite rightly in my opinion, a ban on using a hand-held mobile phones whilst driving as it's a 'distraction'.

Yet a manufacturer is allowed to mount all the vehicles main info in the centre console on multiple digital displays etc? Nope I don't get it either. I'm sure it's a very capable vehicle, but as a people carrier, school runmobile or whatever, I'd expect safety to be paramount. 

31 May 2013

scotty5 wrote:

There is, quite rightly in my opinion, a ban on using a hand-held mobile phones whilst driving as it's a 'distraction'.

Yet a manufacturer is allowed to mount all the vehicles main info in the centre console on multiple digital displays etc? Nope I don't get it either. I'm sure it's a very capable vehicle, but as a people carrier, school runmobile or whatever, I'd expect safety to be paramount. 

Have you driven a car with a touch screen? Completely different to using a mobile phone, and no more a distraction than pushing air conditioning or radio buttons/controls.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

1 June 2013

Mini2 - Driven one? I own one - Golf Match, and I couldn't disagree more, it's unbelievably distracting. Have you ever tried to search for DAB stations on a VW touchscreen, it's bad enough when the car's stopped farless try to seach when the car's moving.

First car we owned in '71 had a MW radio with six large preset buttons and rotatry knobs for tuning. Because of the tactile touch, you could operate that radio blindfolded, or as in this instance, operate it without taking your eyes off the road. That's impossible with a touchscreen.

It's similar when you're out running and want to listen to music - older mobile phones or Ipods could be operated blindly in your jacket pocket, skip, pause, FF, REW - you know by feel where the buttons are, where as if you use a smartphone with a touchscreen you must to remove the phone from your pocket and physically look at it to operate.

Vehicles are becoming more and more dangerous, something the motoring press seem to ignore these days. I remember in mid 80's when magazines test drove/ rated cars, they awarded extra points for radios mounted high up on the dash as opposed to lower down near the gearlever which used to be the norm for this very reason. 

 

Myk

31 May 2013

I really like the look of this.  The rear could have been a bit more adventurous (like the front) rather than looking like a generic VAG copy, but it still looks good.

The interior looks like a good place to spend time too.  If I had a need for such a vehicle this would be top of my list.

31 May 2013

The pedals look so far offset that Citroen will hardly need bother moving them for the RHD versions!

 

Other than that, I think it looks good.  Shame about the ride and handling.

31 May 2013

March1 wrote:

The pedals look so far offset that Citroen will hardly need bother moving them for the RHD versions!....

Either an optical illusion or a drivers aid in that the passenger could help operate the pedals!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

31 May 2013

can't stand the centrally mounted digital dash. Shame.

31 May 2013

....that such a stunning looking car, both inside and out, should prove to be a disappointing drive. Citroen seem to have a problem with creating cars with driving dynamics that match the super styling, I seem to recall that pretty much the same verdict was given on the DS4 cross-over.

I like the dashboard and having had a Prius for 8 years I think that digital displays are the way to go, delighted to see that more and more new cars seem to feature digital speedometers etc.

Nice to read that Citroen are moving towards more adventurous and stylish looks for their cars, they need to make their styling a reason for buying their cars as in the old days.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

31 May 2013

ordinary bloke wrote:

....that such a stunning looking car, both inside and out, should prove to be a disappointing drive. Citroen seem to have a problem with creating cars with driving dynamics that match the super styling, I seem to recall that pretty much the same verdict was given on the DS4 cross-over.

I like the dashboard and having had a Prius for 8 years I think that digital displays are the way to go, delighted to see that more and more new cars seem to feature digital speedometers etc.

Nice to read that Citroen are moving towards more adventurous and stylish looks for their cars, they need to make their styling a reason for buying their cars as in the old days.

I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of the buyers of this car wouldn't know or would not care about driving dynamics.

It's only motoring journalists, wanna be idiots and Ford who are obsessed with creating and wanting cars that have to drive like a Kart. The rest just want a comfortable car.

31 May 2013

In the real world this will perfectly satisfy the target audience. The review is more oriented towards some one coming out of a Porsche Boxster and not the target market. The article also puts down the ride but does not say why. Reading those sections relevant to the actual buyer reveals that it is a quality piece of kit, much improved over its predessesor and sure to satisfy the owner.

GeToD

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