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Citroen C4 Picasso

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7/10

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Road Test

Citroen C4 Picasso driven

Driven August 2013

Additional Info

While Ford and others try to make their MPVs look like normal hatchbacks - generally a comically proportioned disguise - Citroen reckons an MPV should look like an MPV because there's no shame in driving one. Fair enough. If, as is commonly supposed, driving a sports car is a virility symbol, then driving a big-family vehicle is for people whose virility is proven.

The new C4 Picasso is well-planted on the road, thanks to the shorter overhangs and longer wheelbase. Citroen wants its cars to look accessible and friendly. From the front, I'm thinking friendly shark, which might not be what they had in mind. At the back, the 3D lights and clamshell tailgate are Audi-ish, in a good way.

Inside, it's super-glassy so feels like outdoors. The dash when dormant is almost entirely shorn of buttons and controls. Start up, and two screens come to life. The lower one is a 7inch touchscreen. Its menu hierarchy and graphics are decently sorted. Above that is a pub-telly-sized 12-incher for the main instruments and other configurable info.

Space, crucial in this class, is strong, thanks to the longer wheelbase. It's versatile too. All five seats slide and recline, and are surrounded by enough storage boxes and hidden cubbies that you're definitely going to leave something behind if you rent one on holiday.

As with the styling, so the dynamics. There's no pretence that this is a sporty hatchback. It gets along with little audible commotion and rides refreshingly softly. That means body roll and understeer, but you always know what it's doing in bends. It could do with more high-speed self-centring - I occasionally drifted onto the motorway lines, triggering one of the countless electronic warnings. Oh, and the gearshift is floppy.

This Picasso really is new. It's the first use for the next-gen Peugeot-Citroen modular platform: all the underbody, chassis, electronics and more. The structure is better at getting out of the way and leaving more space for people and style, so the front overhang is shorter by a substantial 116mm, which gets rid of the beaky look of the French group's cars. And yet there's better crash protection, and the shell certainly feels rigid. Crucially, the whole thing is significantly lighter too: minus 70kg in the platform, and another 70kg in the rest.

What with the weight loss and better aero and engines, you get major fuel savings. One 90bhp diesel version does under 100g/km CO2. I'm in the 115bhp diesel. Compared with the previous one, it's a second quicker to 62mph and does an official 70mpg instead of 55mpg. It's smooth and quiet enough, but doesn't like overtaking, and you'd struggle to press on if you loaded it up. But, of course, your rear passengers don't want you hooning. This is an MPV.

Paul Horrell

The numbers
1560cc, 4cyl turbodiesel, FWD, 115bhp, 199lb ft, 70.6mpg, 105g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 11.8secs, 117mph, 1380kg

The verdict
Only OK for drivers, but superb for passengers, also cheap to run and safe. For a family car, honest priorities well executed.

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