Citroen C4 Picasso (2016 - ) review
A rival for the Renault Scenic, as well as the baby brother to the Grand C4 Picasso, the C4 Picasso is as practical as it is distinctive-looking.
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People used to accuse MPVs of just being ‘vans with windows’, but the C4 Picasso is nothing of the sort. It stands out a mile, mostly thanks to the sleek front end, with slim headlights and LED daytime running lights linked by the chrome details that incorporate the company’s chevrons. Every model in the range comes with alloy wheels and front fog lights as standard, and as long as you avoid the basic Touch Edition models, you’ll also get chrome trim on the lower bumper and around the side windows. Top-spec Flair models also get ‘3D’ LED rear lights, and every model can be smartened even further by the addition of an optional ‘Style Pack’, the exact contents of which vary from trim to trim.
The panoramic windscreen extends further than in other cars – almost over the heads of the front-seat occupants – and that helps to make the cabin light and airy. If you want even more light, the panoramic glass sunroof (optional with Feel trim and standard on Flair) is worth having. The two-tone dashboard is made of good-quality materials and its unusual design is dominated by two large screens in the centre, set one above the other. The lower one is a touch-screen infotainment unit that is standard on every model, while the upper screen contains your instruments. This is an LCD display on basic Touch Edition models, but on Feel and Flair models, it’s a full-colour HD unit, with a display that can be personalised by choosing from three different ‘themes’. Either way, it all adds up to a very modern-looking cabin, although it’s not quite so impressive in use. The touch-screen system, in particular, is a little awkward to use, requiring a firm prod to operate it due to a screen that’s not sensitive enough. Meanwhile, the centrally mounted instruments take some getting used to, especially if you’re more familiar with dials behind the steering wheel.
In terms of passenger space, there’s no faulting the C4 Picasso: not only is there plenty of room (and a wide range of adjustments) in the front seats, each one of the three individual rear seats can fold and recline, as well as providing plenty of head- and leg-room, and having Isofix mounting points. For the ultimate in practicality, avoid the basic Touch Edition, as it’s the only one of the three trims to miss out on a fold-down front passenger seat (which allows items up to 2.5-metres long to be carried), sliding rear seats and underfloor stowage in the rear. With all the seats upright, the boot capacity is 537 litres – more than in a Ford C-Max – and it grows by almost 100 litres when you push the rear seats right forward. Fold all the seats down, and you have 1851 litres to play with, making this bigger than a Renault Scenic. On top of that, there are also several other useful storage compartments dotted around the cabin.
With all the seats upright, the boot capacity is 537 litres – more than in a Ford C-Max – and it grows by almost 100 litres when you push the rear seats right forward. Fold all the seats down, and you have 1851 litres to play with, making this bigger than a Renault Scenic. On top of that, there are also several other useful storage compartments dotted around the cabin.
Ride and handling
Many MPVs focus on comfort above all else, but that’s not the approach Citroen takes with the C4 Picasso. The suspension is actually quite firm, which means that poorly finished surfaces – of which there are many in the UK – can give you a proper case of the jitters, especially at low urban speeds. Potholes can give you quite a jolt, too. That said, it just about stops short of being uncomfortable, and the firmness does mean things stay pretty neat in corners. Granted, there is some body lean, but that’s more to do with the car’s height. The steering is a bit of a mixed bag; it’s nice and light at low speed to make manoeuvring easier, but it doesn’t get much heavier when you’re going faster. This, along with its very remote feel, doesn’t inspire much confidence.
So far, we’ve only driven one version of the C4 Picasso – the BlueHDi 120. With peak torque coming at less than 2000rpm, it delivers easy and refined progress, as long as you don’t let the revs drop below 1,500rpm, when the engine responds much more slowly. The changes from the standard six-speed manual gearbox aren’t all that satisfying, either, but happily, the low-rev strength of the engine means you can usually rely on its pull rather than a gearchange to keep up with traffic.
Right across the range, the Grand C4 Picasso has impressive fuel economy, and every model – including the petrol-engined versions – averages more than 55mpg. Most economical of all are the BlueHDi 100 and 120 models, with average economy of well over 70mpg. These versions also have CO2 emissions of 100g/km or less, meaning low tax bills. List prices aren’t exactly cheap, but they are competitive when compared with other similarly sized rivals.
This has traditionally been a rather patchy area for Citroen, and the company sits only mid-table in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer listings. Scan the results for the previous C4 Picasso and you’ll see it was below average, but more recent Citroens have been more impressive, and according to owner reviews of this latest model, it’s proving very reliable.
The C4 Picasso earned the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, and among the standard equipment on every model are twin front, side and curtain airbags, as well as electronic stability control and cruise control. Adaptive cruise control with collision alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, driver attention alert and speed limit recognition are all available, but only as options, and only on Feel and Flair models.
Even the most basic Touch Edition models come with remote central locking, alloy wheels, four electric windows, air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a touch-screen control system. However, we recommend you upgrade to Feel, which adds front and rear parking sensors, massaging front seats, sat-nav and the 12-inch panoramic central HD display. Top-spec Flair models come with a panoramic sunroof, reversing camera, keyless entry and start and a hands-free opening tailgate. Beyond that, there are several option packs, which bundle together various options, although most are available only on one trim level rather than across the full range.
With a blend of stylish good looks, plenty of space for five inside and low running costs on most models, the C4 Picasso is one of the best five-seat MPVs.