What is it?
Citroen’s family stalwart range has had a full renewal. It’s moved onto a new platform from PSA, giving less weight, more strength, reduced thirst and better proportions – in all cases, by a big margin.
But as before, it’s a people carrier with five separate seats (or seven in the stretched Grand Picasso) and a glassy body, giving plenty of space and versatility in a compact footprint. Engine range emphasises diesels, but many buyers will be happy with the 120bhp 1.6 petrol – it also comes as a 156bhp turbo.
If you’re a driving enthusiast, cram your complaining family into a hatchback instead. MPVs aren’t about smoking through corners. And the Picasso, especially, is built for comfort not for speed. The 115bhp diesel, likely to be a big seller, is fairly smooth and quiet but no fireball. We’d rather have the 1.6 turbo, to be honest.
Cornering is faithful and not at all a grim experience, but it’s hardly athletic, and the gearshift is floppy. The steering might be good on lock, but it’s vague about the centre, which makes it more tiring than it need be to hold steady in your motorway lane. Handy optional driver aids include collision alert, blind spot warning and 360 degree manoeuvring cameras.
On the inside
Plenty of room for five people inside the Picasso: the third-row duo in the Grand may grumble, but at least they’re in. The dash has two big colour screens: a 12-inch display and a 7-inch touchscreen. So you can keep navigation directions on one, while the passengers get control of the other. The windscreen stretches far back into the roof. An optional ‘Lounge’ pack gives a calf rest for the front passenger, and winged headrests for everyone. Tray tables, lots of storage in the dash and under the floor, and 12V plus 230V outlets complete the family-friendly picture. Cabin material quality and style are a leap ahead from its predecessor’s too, and, more to the point, ahead of the Japanese opposition. Excellent ride comfort and quietness add to the relaxed air.
This is a car that’ll fit well into family lives, and its design might engender a little pride too. As for costs, well the significantly lightweight new body and chassis, with clever aero, serves up some impressive fuel figures for a relatively bulky MPV. In fact, one diesel creeps under 100g/ km, but you’ve got to put up with the clunky flappy gearbox and get by on 90bhp. Still, even the 115bhp manual is just 105g/km and 70mpg. Depreciation looks less severe than, say, a C-Max, but as this Picasso is brand-new there won’t be much in the way of discount yet. The Grand costs around £1,500 extra.