New Citroen Picasso clever stuff – ‘C4’ yourself
- Credit: Citroen
The new C4 Picasso from Citroen proves quite magical, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Smaller on the outside but bigger inside – that's a clever trick. No wonder Citroen launched its new-generation C4 Picasso at the Harry Potter attraction at Watford.
What they both have in common is that they are popular with families and have won awards for technology and design.
The C4 Picasso is all new from the ground up apart from engines that have been carried over. So while it looks similar to its predecessor it is a very different car.
The styling is evolutionary, no bad thing because the original model still looks good after six years, but has been taken to the next level with smart LED strip daytime running lights which are becoming something of a signature for Citroen.
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In keeping with the launch tag of 'Discover the space inside', despite the new C4 Picasso being 4cm shorter and the roof 4cm lower, there is noticeably more space inside the new model – a trick Citroen is good at – with its bright and airy cabin and three individual rear seats which independently recline and slide back and forth to give either limousine-like legroom in the back or even more carrying capacity.
Not that the boot is small in the first place – it's 40 litres bigger than its predecessor at a class-leading 537 litres. Slide the rear seats forward and you've got 630 litres. Even with the rear seats slid back, the clever clamshell-style tailgate which folds around at the sides helps to maximise space and it swallowed two large and two medium suitcases as if by magic and without removing the load cover.
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If you want more space simply pull the handle on each of the rear seats and they fold down with flaps that open out to create a long flat floor and turn the C4 Picasso into a small van.
With Citroen's wealth of experience building multi-purpose vehicles there's loads of cabin stowage space including lidded compartments in the rear footwells.
Aimed at young families with small children and older couples who want something practical and versatile that is easy to get in and out of, the new C4 Picasso builds on the success of the original Xsara Picasso launched in 1999 and the original C4 Picasso and three million sales worldwide – 400,000 of them in the UK.
The new C4 Picasso is also much lighter, shedding 140kg so it now weighs the same as the smaller C3 Picasso. Combined with improved aerodynamics, a lower centre of gravity and a new rear suspension set-up they make it better to drive and help fuel economy and emissions, so much so that it is the first non-hybrid compact MPV to dip under 100g/km of CO2.
On the road the C4 Picasso does feel more dynamic to drive, crisper and more nimble through corners with good feel from the variable power steering. What makes it even better is that improved roadholding has not been at the expense of ride comfort and the supple, absorbent suspension deals with poor roads most effectively for smooth, relaxed progress.
The lofty cabin is well appointed with large expanses of glass and quality materials. Despite the hi-tech look to the fascia it is so easy to feel at home behind the wheel with no distractions from the road ahead with most instruments and controls focused in the centre of the dashboard with a 'tablet'-style 7in touchpad for various functions and a 12in panoramic screen for driver information, speedo and rev counter. On top models you can change the theme of the instruments and even upload a favourite photograph as a backdrop.
There are four 1.6-litre engines – 120hp petrol and 155hp turbo petrol and 90 and 115hp turbo diesels. Diesels, also offered with the six-speed EGT (Efficient Tronic Gearbox) automatic transmission will account for 90% of sales which are expected to be split evenly between retail and fleet.
The 90hp, five-speed diesel lacks the low-down pull of the 115hp version which is expected to be the big seller and makes good progress with a real-word 55mpg. The manual has a nice shift but the EGT hesitates slightly before changing up – a trait of this electronic gearbox.
Available in VTR, VTR+, Exclusive and Exclusive+, the most popular choice is expected to be the e-HDi 115 VTR+. The five-seater model will be joined in January by the new seven-seat C4 Grand Picasso.
Citroen has a formidable reputation for building family-oriented multi-purpose vehicles and the new C4 Picasso's many talents are no illusion.