What is it?
People carriers have traditionally been viewed as the white goods of the automotive world. While they're practical and serve a purpose, they are hardly a hedonistic indulgence.
Thankfully, Citroën livened up the breed two years ago when it launched the strikingly stylish C4 Picasso, which in diesel form has been something of a hit.
If you’re not a lover of diesel clatter, however, this new 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine has been introduced to the line-up. It comes with a raspy three-cylinder engine and a turbocharger for a bit of extra oomph. And being part of the latest Puretech range it’s pretty clean, being Euro 6 compliant and capable of claimed combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg.
What's it like?
Granted, most four-cylinder engines tend to be smoother than the new breed of three-cylinder motors, but this Puretech 130 manages to be really quite refined as it thrums away, even when thrashed.
It’s no slouch either, feeling much quicker than the claimed 0-62mph time of 10.8sec would suggest - although you do need to put up with its off/on bottom-end power delivery.
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.