Matt Saunders
30 January 2013

What is it?

Citroën’s ‘funky’ C3 Picasso, just driven in the UK in facelifted form for 2013.

Not that the ‘funkiness’ matters much. A great deal of importance is often mistakenly ascribed to the quirky looks of this car when accounting for its popularity – and there’s been plenty of that over the past four years. The truth is that the C3 sells because it’s the largest car in its class (more than 1500 litres of maximum boot space) and because it’s also among the cheapest. You’d pay a grand more for an equivalent Ford B-Max, and a purse-puckering three grand more for a like-for-like Vauxhall Meriva. And that’s at list price – before Citroën’s typically generous discounts are measured against those of its rivals.

Since neither the new Ford nor the Vauxhall have threatened either of the C3’s outstanding selling points, there’s been little pressure on Citroën to update the car – hence the somewhat steady-Eddie mid-life nip and tuck. A new front bumper replaces the somewhat simple old one, LED daytime running lights and fog lamps with a cornering function have been added to mid and high-spec models, there are a couple of new paint colours and seat upholsteries, and there are one or two equipment level tweaks.

What is it like?

Mechanically, the only news is that Citroën has found an extra five horsepower for the range-topping 1.6-litre HDi diesel we tested. Which is also the only C3 Picasso we’d really recommend, after our painfully slow road test of the five-speed HDi 90 back in 2009. In contrast to the lowlier diesel, the new 113bhp motor provides plenty of flexible urge, and the extra intermediate gear ratio means you’re seldom far from that 199lb ft wave of thrust.

Citroën has, however, missed the opportunity to make more sense of the car’s fascia, which is a shame. You quickly get used to the central instruments, but the dated-looking climate control and audio consoles need a design reboot. The mix of plastics is less than impressive, too: they’re hard and smooth to the touch here, soft and grained there, mostly flimsy and lacking in the consistency that speaks of true care and attention to detail.

The C3 Picasso’s ride and handling is exactly as it was, though: benign and inoffensive, but bland and nondescript with it. The steering is extremely light and indirect, offering a sense of connectedness to the front wheels only when you provoke torque steer.

The car’s road-holding is competent enough, but it slips from the front end in sudden and non-negotiable terms at the limit of grip. And before that limit, it can near enough throw you out of the flat, unsupportive driver’s seat with body roll, should you forget where you are for a moment and make a spirited attempt at a corner. Even by mini-MPV standards, body control is approximate and directional responses woolly.

Should I buy one?

There are other reasons this Citroën makes a poor driver’s car, such as high, slightly uncomfortable pedals and a generally bus-like driving position. And yet, while the latter undermines its touring credentials, most owners are unlikely to care.

Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, of course. But the fact remains that a hatchback with a separately opening rear window is a bigger omission on this car than an engaging driving experience. With the likes of the Ford B-Max around, it’ll be a cold day on hell’s school run before the Citroën is our class champ – but as a cheap and cheerful family carry-all, there’s a lot going for it.

Price £17,655 Price as tested £17,655 0-62mph 11.2sec Top speed 114mph Economy 58.8mpg CO2 125g/km Kerb weight 1436kg Engine 4 cyls, 1560cc, turbodiesel  Power 113bhp at 3600rpm Torque 199lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
25

Boiler Replacment

1 year 30 weeks ago

This is a very beautiful car and car lovers realy enjoy to read the review if this fantastic car.

Boiler Replacement

cheap and cheerful family carry-all??????

1 year 30 weeks ago

Sorry, have I missed something, but when was £17,655 considered cheap & chearful for a car based on a supermini????

As the report states the lower engines are not recommended, this makes little sense. This engine is only available in Exclusive trim so there is no cheaper option. With the leather shown in the pictures it is nearer to £18500!!!!!

Specced to the level of the press car is £60 short of £20,000!!!!!!!

Space for money.

1 year 30 weeks ago

If you are seeking to buy a mini MPV then steering response, flat cornering ability and uniform soft touch plastics on the dashboard are hardly likely to be of much interest to any potential buyer.

Purchase cost, running cost and space, space and more space are the real desirable things and this car, as its sales figures show, has what the buyer wants.

maxecat

Had a look at one of these pre facelift

1 year 30 weeks ago

And wasnt impressed by the flimsy finishing and seats which I thought were poor . Citroens secondhand values and reliability are none too good either . I think a forthcoming Skoda Octavia will be a much better place to spend your money . 2k cheaper better reliability more space cheaper to run .

Mind you as a second hand by this will be cheap as chips .

 

If you are seeking to buy a

1 year 30 weeks ago

"If you are seeking to buy a mini MPV then steering response, flat cornering ability and uniform soft touch plastics on the dashboard are hardly likely to be of much interest to any potential buyer"

Sorry, I have to disagree.  My car has to be practical family transport & fun when it is not loaded to the roof.

As a previous MPV owner owning 2 Scenics & 2 Zafiras in the past I wish there was a car that combined the chassis of the Zafiras with the added MPV practical touches that the Scenic had. There now is the S Max, but that was not around at sensible prices when I was in the MPV market.

Granted the were not mini MPVs, but in these days of downsizing, I don't think you can ignore driving dynamics on a mini MPV.

Saunders..back of the class

1 year 30 weeks ago

Matt Saunders says; "Not that the ‘funkiness’ matters much. A great deal of importance is often mistakenly ascribed to the quirky looks of this car when accounting for its popularity – and there’s been plenty of that over the past four years. The truth is that the C3 sells because it’s the largest car in its class"

err..care to enlighten us on that point? - data perhaps? Or is it subjective? - in which case I'll disagree. I happen to think this car, along with Citroen's other offerings adds an element of personality, maybe even fun, into the mix. And seperates it from the ruthlessley efficient/dour VW/Skoda offerings, or the hyperactively-designed Fords. That's why i'd consider one. 

I'm the target customer but

1 year 30 weeks ago

I feel I'd have given up on life if I found myself driving around in such an ugly converted Citroen van especially a Citroen which costs nearly £18,000.  The only fast thing about this car will be the depreciation.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

xxxx wrote: I feel I'd have

1 year 30 weeks ago

xxxx wrote:

I feel I'd have given up on life if I found myself driving around in such an ugly converted Citroen van especially a Citroen which costs nearly £18,000.  The only fast thing about this car will be the depreciation.

 

haha, brilliant and true.

Another great car ruined by a facelift

1 year 30 weeks ago

This was always one of my favourite designs, but the new version is like the aftermath of one of Fiat's famous 'facelifts'. The front end is way too busy and fussy now. Such a shame. A travesty.

Typical Car Journalism Assumption

1 year 30 weeks ago

Matt Saunders wrote:

"Not that the ‘funkiness’ matters much. A great deal of importance is often mistakenly ascribed to the quirky looks of this car when accounting for its popularity – and there’s been plenty of that over the past four years. The truth is that the C3 sells because it’s the largest car in its class"

Any proof whatsoever?

I have never met anyone who has bought a car because it's the largest in its class.  If people want a bigger car, they just buy a bigger car that they like, regardless of these arbitrary, and often overlapping, classes.   The 'class' a car falls into seems only to be relevant to journalists. 

If people bought according to best size for cost in class, why is every other car I see a Mini or Fiat 500? 

I've just done a quick survey here at work, and not one of us owns a car because it's the largest, cheapest, fastest, or any '...est' in its class.  The main factor seems to be the look, or simply liking the 'feel' of it more than the other cars at the same price.  (And sorry, journalist, but only 2 owners even mentioned handling!)

The cars in question?  Mini Cooper S, VW Scirocco, C3 Picasso (!), Ford S-Max, Ford Puma, Alfa 147.

Apart from the C3 Picasso (which was bought almost entirely for its 'funkiness' in this case), are any of them the largest in their class?  And even if they were, this sample of owners simply don't care.  It's interesting how magazines nearly always talk about price and handling, and owners nearly always talk about looks and the cost of fuel.

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