Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, checks out a family favourite in the Citroen C4 Picasso.

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Engines – Diesel or petrol? It’s the age-old question, and with Citroen’s C4 Picasso you’ve got to choose between some good units on both sides of the fence. In reality it’s the former that will prove the most sensible if you know you’ll be racking up the miles. The latter, on the other hand, makes more sense for short journeys such as the school run. Either way, you benefit from smooth, refined performance.

Exterior – Less egg-shaped than its predecessor, the Xsara Picasso, and full of high-quality details, the C4 Picasso boasts a more refined road presence. Crucially, it’s also more spacious, although from the outside the C4 Picasso’s design hides its size well.

Interior – A noticeably more upmarket experience than its predecessor, the C4 Picasso’s cabin boasts a convincingly quality ambience. This is, in part, thanks to Citroen’s choice of plush plastics and upholstery. The lofty seating positions also help foster a different feeling to that of being in a regular family hatchback.

Driving – The C4 Picasso isn’t built for speed. As a family-friendly mode of transport the focus is on comfort and refinement. Cruising on motorways feels very civilised, while the car’s supple suspension makes light work of poor roads. Diesel power delivers a relaxed motoring experience, although petrol models aren’t far behind if you don’t intend on towing or pushing them hard.

Ownership – With its flexible cabin layout, plush ambience and stylish looks, it’s hard not to like the C4 Picasso. In the real world it’s an easy car to drive and park, although its upmarket interior lends itself more towards that of a mature family – toddlers and sticky fingers might not be so welcome.

What to look for – Viewed by many as an urban taxi, look closely for kerbed wheels, parking dents, unevenly-worn tyres and a car that doesn’t track straight. On the test-drive, ensure that the the engine and gearbox work smoothly and that there’s no smoke from the exhaust. Don’t be put off by high-mileage diesels – so long as it’s a clean car and the paperwork is in order it would be foolish to dismiss it.

Model history – 2007, Citroen launches the all-new C4 Picasso. More upmarket than the Xsara Picasso, it boasts a more flexible interior, wide choice of petrol and diesel engines and equipment. The slightly larger Grand C4 Picasso added a third row of seats. Unusual semi-auto gearbox included, which is an acquired taste for some.

Reasons to buy – Spacious, good value, well equipped, stylish, modest running costs.

Reasons to beware – Plush interior might not be so durable, semi-auto gearbox is an acquired taste, not for keen drivers.

Pick of the range – C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi SX.

What to pay – 2007 07 £6,050; 2007 57 £6,425; 2008 08 £7,450; 2008 58 £8,050; 2009 09 £9,025; 2009 59 £9,575; 2010 10 £10,725. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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