From £12,205
Citroen's latest baby MPV is practical and funky, if a little unexciting to drive

Our Verdict

Citroën C3 Picasso
Quirky Citroëns are back, but is square the new cool?

The Citroën C3 Picasso is a cut above the MPV norm, combining style, space and quality, but it majors on comfort not fun

What is it?

It’s the new Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 VTi Exclusive. It’s partly a replacement for the now nine-year-old Xsara Picasso MPV, which will be discontinued in mid-2009. The new Citroen C3 Picasso is also a more upmarket, more car-like, yet slightly smaller alternative to the new Berlingo Multispace MPV.

But it’s easier to get a handle on the Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 VTi Exclusive by considering its rivals rather than its rangemates. The Citroen C3 Picasso is aiming for a slice of the market dominated by the Nissan Note in the UK, and by the Opel Meriva on the continent.

What’s it like?

The Citroen C3 Picasso is tall, snub-nosed and square. In fact, it’s uncannily like a Kia Soul from the rear three-quarter, and like a Nissan Cube from other angles; so maybe it’s not as original-looking as Citroen would like. But the grille and headlights bear a strong resemblance to the Citroen C4 Picasso.

The advantage of those boxy-but-funky looks is that, when you climb aboard, you realise that there’s more foot, shoulder and knee room, in both rows of seats, than there is in a much larger saloon.

The C3 Picasso is also as versatile as it is accommodating. Both front and rear seats slide fore and aft, the rear ones fold totally flat, and the front passenger seat back folds likewise.

The C3 Picasso’s boot will take up to 500 litres of luggage under the parcel shelf with the rear seats in place; almost as much as you’ll squeeze into the trunk of a BMW 5-series saloon. With the seats flat and the shelf removed you can get more than 1500 litres of stuff into it, which is 150 litres more than you’ll get into the back of a Renault Grand Modus.

Sitting up front in the C3 Picasso is a pleasant experience for several reasons. The cabin is airy and light, and the view out of it is brilliant thanks to a wraparound windscreen and skinny A-pillars. Material quality isn’t great – there are as many hard plastics on display as there are soft, tactile ones – but fit and finish is well up to the class standard.

Taller drivers won’t struggle to find a good driving position thanks to plenty of reach adjustment on the steering wheel. They’ll search hard to find much in the way of entertainment while they’re driving though, because there isn’t much fun to be had from behind the wheel of the C3 Picasso.

The C3 Picasso steers accurately, but with more lightness and vagueness than we’d like, and has a well-judged handling compromise that allows a little body roll but plenty of grip.

But Citroen’s priorities were evidently for comfort and refinement. The C3 Picasso rides quietly and feels pliant. Engine and road noise are far from intrusive, and the car’s twin sets of door seals make it adequately insulated from wind noise too.

But even with the range-topping 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine this Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 VTi Exclusive is short on performance. Its C2/C3-sourced five-speed manual gearbox is in need of a sixth ratio to compensate for a hefty kerb weight, too. And if the most powerful petrol model feels like that, you can bet the entry-level 94bhp petrol is screaming out for more poke.

Should I buy one?

Yes. The C3 Picasso is capable dynamically, but hardly involving. You’re much more likely to take pleasure filling its load bay than you are in actually driving it – but as long as there isn’t a small MPV in the class that really stands out as an entertaining drive (which there isn’t) that’s a forgivable flaw.

There is also a great deal else to recommend the Citroen C3 Picasso, especially if you’re otherwise considering the relatively bland Nissan Note, or the soon-to-be-replaced Vauxhall Meriva.

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Join the debate

Comments
9

28 January 2009

trunk of a 5-series?? When did autocar become american hehehehehe I like the C£ picasso, looks funky. As you say, there aren't many exciting cars in that class to drive, but I bet the B-Max from ford will show them all up when it arrives!

28 January 2009

I actually really quite fancy one of these. Just looks so funky and unpretentious. Quite how I've gone from an Impreza WRX to wanting one of these in only two steps I don't know, but I'll take a diesel one thanks.

28 January 2009

Should we add that it has a neat design, and proper rubstrips that will withstand life in the city, unlike some colour coded bumpers now in fashion. Give it a diesel engine and a decent auto 'box and this car is a winner.

28 January 2009

Whilst i am a great fan of Citroens and this is a good car no doubt, I cannot see anything very innovative or individual about the design

...and that back end is a dead lift from the current (now old) Espace.

28 January 2009

[quote giulivo]Should we add that it has a neat design, and proper rubstrips that will withstand life in the city, unlike some colour coded bumpers now in fashion. Give it a diesel engine and a decent auto 'box and this car is a winner.[/quote]

Hang on, doesn't that make it a LTi TX4 London cab?

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

28 January 2009

[quote TegTypeR]Hang on, doesn't that make it a LTi TX4 London cab?[/quote] Probably but at least it wont pollute as much!

28 January 2009

I love it, and I personally think it's completely original! Look at it! There isn't anything like it on the road really at the moment, and it looks even more unusual in the metal!! The interior is also hugely spacious. Citroen had always said from the start that the C3 Picasso was not supposed to be ultra-fun to drive, but at least you'll feel good driving it and it's a smooth-riding family car - exactly as they intended. Add in those brilliant alloy wheels, and Citroen have got another winner!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

28 January 2009

[quote TegTypeR]Hang on, doesn't that make it a LTi TX4 London cab?[/quote]

So this car's going to catch on fire for unexplained reasons as well?

Will be interested when diesel prices and details are released. That or a smaller turbo charged petrol unit (more torque).

However - why the autobox? Why buy a car that's more expensive, slower and uses more fuel? Proper 6 speed manual box is the way to go.

29 January 2009

[quote Mini1]

I love it, and I personally think it's completely original! Look at it! There isn't anything like it on the road really at the moment, and it looks even more unusual in the metal!! The interior is also hugely spacious. Citroen had always said from the start that the C3 Picasso was not supposed to be ultra-fun to drive, but at least you'll feel good driving it and it's a smooth-riding family car - exactly as they intended. Add in those brilliant alloy wheels, and Citroen have got another winner!

[/quote]

Couldn't agree more. I could even consider down sizing to one when the lease on my C5 is up - as long as it's good on the motorway as well.

It's a shame that it doesn't have the fixed hub steering wheel though. When you get used to it (after about 5 minutes) you wonder why all cars don't have one,

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