From £18,2657
New 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is clean and frugal, but is it strong enough to fit in with family life and replace the need for diesel power?

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?

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.

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.

Should I buy one?

This new petrol version costs less to buy than a diesel and it’s comparatively efficient, so worth thinking about if you’re private buyer who mainly drives in town. However, the diesel’s real-world economy and better emissions still make it the better company car choice as well as for those that cover more miles.

If you’re about to buy a mid-sized MPV then the C4 Picasso Puretech should certainly feature on your shopping list. But we'd suggest holding off until you can try the new C-Max.

Citroën C4 Picasso 1.2 Puretech 130 S&S

Location France; On sale now; Price £18,270; Engine 3 cyls, 1199cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 129bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 170lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1280kg; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Top speed 125mph; Economy 56.5mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 115g/km, 16%

Join the debate

Comments
7

11 June 2015
way more interesting both inside and outside than the golf and c-max, for that reason alone its worth giving the Citroen a go. Just wish more paragraphs were devoted to driving comfort, I know from experience fords are uncomfortable for me so are Citroens any better?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

11 June 2015
That reported off/on power delivery sounds like it would be infuriating in the real world. Those situations where you have made the decision (eg to pull out/ merge) would be tricky if off boost, then a surge because your foot is by then much further down than necessary would surely make you feel somewhat incompetent? I have had this experience with a diesel (some years back) and did not like it at all. Would not do fuel consumption any favours. Presumably the EU cycle can be done with the engine off boost or only tickling the turbo to give good returns for the stats.

11 June 2015
Adrian987 wrote:

That reported off/on power delivery sounds like it would be infuriating in the real world. Those situations where you have made the decision (eg to pull out/ merge) would be tricky if off boost, then a surge because your foot is by then much further down than necessary would surely make you feel somewhat incompetent?.

I reckon the trick is to learn to anticipate the lag, to have changed down already a gear, say when applying the brakes entering a turn as in that case if you don't anticipade the need for a downchange changing down a gear as you're braking you'll certainly enter the engine off boost flat zone you mentioned - in reality driving it like any car with a really small engine which it truly is. If you're in the right gear at all times, you should avoid the off boost part of the rew range alltogether. And you shouldn't at all need to use the trhottle the way you mentioned, bad idea anyhow as that increases fuel consumption. I'm fairly sure the trick is - - more gearchanges and less throttle. And you'll get pretty close to that low mileage advertized.

11 June 2015
Adrian987 wrote:

That reported off/on power delivery sounds like it would be infuriating in the real world. Those situations where you have made the decision (eg to pull out/ merge) would be tricky if off boost, then a surge because your foot is by then much further down than necessary would surely make you feel somewhat incompetent?.

I reckon the trick is to learn to anticipate the lag, to have changed down already a gear, say when applying the brakes entering a turn as in that case if you don't anticipade the need for a downchange changing down a gear as you're braking you'll certainly enter the engine off boost flat zone you mentioned - in reality driving it like any car with a really small engine which it truly is. If you're in the right gear at all times, you should avoid the off boost part of the rew range alltogether. And you shouldn't at all need to use the trhottle the way you mentioned, bad idea anyhow as that increases fuel consumption. I'm fairly sure the trick is - - more gearchanges and less throttle. And you'll get pretty close to that low mileage advertized.

11 June 2015
I guess you could be right, Einarbb. I would be used to the anticipatory stuff as I use my offspring's 55bhp naturally aspirated 3-cyl Polo. But then that doesn't have a torque step, there are no torque surge surprises, and in fact it pulls well from less than 1500 rpm. A lighter car too.

11 June 2015
...I guess it shall be harder when in stop start traffic. Then one will just have to grow a liking to that sudden surge once the turbo starts spinning. Or alternatively - - one purchases a Mazda petrol, they're still using normally aspirated engines.

15 June 2015
the lack of oomph is nothing new to these small turbo petrol engines, it's just how autocar choose to portray them - this one is no worse than the ford ecoboost 1.0 engine which must be kept above 1500rpm. It is frustrating but simply avoided by keeping a minimum of 2000rpm which means 2nd gear at 30mph and minimum 50mph before 5th can be engaged in our fiesta. Great when achieved rubbish when you forget.
The ford is raved about by autocar yet the citroen is not. You decide in the end & not autocar.

Curly

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