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The Top Gear car review: Citroen C3 Picasso
For:Drives surprisingly well given its boxy proportions and role in life, styling
Against:Stowage space lacking and petrol engines should be avoided
1.6 HDi 16V VTR+ 5dr
Europe’s biggest MPV manufacturer adds another one to the range. Ignore the C3 precursor – the Picasso is far better than its namesake
What we say:
Breaking news: tall French car shockingly reveals 'charisma' - C3 Picasso is a tempting mini-MPV
What is it?
The Citroen C3 Picasso is a clever little MPV. Not only does it make a genuine family car out of a supermini-sized wheelbase, the boxy thing is also better quality and better to drive than it has any right to be as a tall French car. Not riveting, but above expectations, and it’s strangely charismatic.
For 2014, it gets a new front end, an upgraded sat nav option with reversing camera plus new colours and trims. Not major changes, then, but none were needed.
Without springing any major surprises, the C3 Picasso doesn’t adhere to the natural assumption you’ll make as soon as you see it – that it handles like it’s sitting on unbridled springs. In fact, it’s largely rather settled, mitigating potholes so that they don’t amplify into the cabin. It has a sloppy gearbox and a poor driving position, with Citroen’s characteristic cramped pedals and the steering wheel at a bus angle, but for most they’ll be no big deal.
The fact visibility is good because there’s loads of glass and the seat is positioned high will be of more importance to its target audience. As part of the C3 family, it doesn’t get any engines of significant poke, and the two petrols (95 and 120bhp) are especially breathless, but the pair of 1.6-litre diesels are far more suited because they have more torque (169 and 199lb ft for the 90 and new 115bhp versions respectively), but you could have guessed that.
On the inside
It’s funny, because while it’s a triumph of spatial packaging, Citroen has inexplicably neglected storage space in the cabin – there’s a dearth of pockets and bins for throwing discarded wet wipes and banana skins into.
There’s little centre console storage either, and the glove box will barely hold two nappies. Frustratingly, if you want underfloor storage, tables on the front-seat backs and sunblinds, you have to buy a top-whack Exclusive model – some families are more equal than others. You could always knock up some overhead shelves, mind, and at least the boot is appropriately proportioned with plenty of space and good access.
If a salesman lures you into one of the petrols he’s had sitting on the forecourt for months by offering an enormous discount (a classic ploy), you can expect economy in the high 30s tops, despite official figures in the mid 40s. By contrast, the 67.2 and 58.8mpg of the diesels are really the sensible way to go, and will hold their value far better – Citroen expects relatively low sales to result in decent residuals. Avoid the very basic entry-level VT trim – it doesn’t even have aircon – and go for VTR+, if not just for the child-watch mirror.