What is it?
Not many people carriers are as obviously dedicated to the business of carrying people as the C4 Picasso. 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.
This Picasso really is new, too. 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.
The new C4 Picasso is well-planted on the road, thanks to the shorter overhangs and longer wheelbase. But 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.
The other thing that parents need to think about - not going bankrupt - is dealt with well. 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.
On the inside
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.
Most Picasso owners enjoy a trouble-free existence. It's also cheap to run and safe. Generations of Picassos have proved that Citroen knows this formula well: it doesn't need to be a driver's hero to sell by the tens of thousand.