A good small MPV, but diesels are a better bet

What is it?

This is the entry-level version of the Citroen C3 Picasso, powered by a 93bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine. It’s the first time we’ve had a chance to sample a petrol-powered version of the good-looking small MPV on UK roads.

What’s it like?

We’ve been impressed with the C3 Picasso so far and the cheapest version is no different.

The 1.4-litre engine is smooth and free-revving, even though it doesn’t propel you down the road with great gusto. But as long as you’re prepared to work the gearbox a bit you can maintain a decent pace. And as long as you don’t encounter many inclines, it’s possible to maintain a decent cruise at motorway speeds.

That said, the diesels are better suited to the life of an MPV. The extra torque makes them more adept at hauling around a family and you don’t have to swap cogs quite so often. Economy is better too, even if the penalty is less refinement than this petrol model has.

Like every other C3 Picasso the 1.4-litre version isn’t blisteringly good to drive. It soaks up bumps well but we’d like it to have more positive steering and a better gearchange.

Whatever the engine, though, the C3 Picasso is definitely the best small MPV on the market. It’s got more space than its immediate rivals but also goes about its business in a much more charming way. It’s a great looker inside and out, and functional: visibility is especially good and so is the driving position.

Should I buy one?

We’ve got no reservations about recommending a C3 Picasso. It’s now the pick of a pack that includes the likes of the Nissan Note and Vauxhall Meriva. The Citroen will be the most satisfying to live with as well as being good value. We’d just recommend trying a diesel version before signing up for the 1.4-litre petrol model.

Chas Hallett

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Audi Tastic 1 April 2009

Re: Citroen C3 Picasso 1.4 VTi VT

Surely what Citroen needs to be developing is something along the lines of the 1.4 TFSi turbo / twincharger that the VW & Audi group has - a standard 1.4 just doesn't cut it when compared to the torque of modern diesels in increasingly heavy cars.