Being a turbo you expect it to feel a little boosty, but if the engine is spinning at less than 1500rpm when your foot goes down, you wait and wait for the revs to climb and then wham (in a manner of speaking), you’re off. Past this point things improve dramatically, and despite its small capacity the engine is gutsy and capable, even at motorway speeds.
There’s no automatic version, just a six-speed manual gearbox, but the ratios are spaced well in order to keep the engine in its torque curve. Top gear works much like an overdrive to make the C4 Picasso a cruiser - a credential that's reinfocred by there being barely any tyre noise. If only Citroën could dial out the constant flutter of wind noise, the C4 Picasso it would have the serenity of a temple.
A new Ford C-Max will be on sale shortly, and on current form we’d be surprised if that car isn’t still a better steer. But that’s not to say the C4 Picasso is without dynamic merit. Predictable, well-weighted steering makes it decent to drive down winding country lanes, but equally it requires pleasingly little effort to steer in town.
If you want to risk making the kids sick and corner with a little verve it will respond with a degree of body lean but not to the point of feeling loose. There’s little doubt though that Citroën has aimed for supple rather than sporty, and as a result the Picasso's suspension takes the sting out of most bumps. That said, it will shake you up if you hit a deep pothole or sharp ridge, and the soft damper settings allow some body-float over crests.
The C4 Picasso's biggest draw is its style, both on the outside where it sports a sharp nose and LED jewellery and inside where there’s plenty of panache thanks to multi-textured surfaces made from soft-touch materials. There’s substance there, too, because it feels well made and ready to take a pounding in family use.
It'll also seat four in reasonable comfort – although a Volkswagen Golf SV offers better rear leg room – and there’s cabin flexibility courtesy of the individually tilting and sliding rear seats. With the rear seats slid forward the boot's volume is a colossal 630 litres.