The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Citroen C3 Picasso proves that the small MPV needn’t be a boring box on wheels. It looks cool, it’s impressively practical and it’s one of the sweetest-driving small MPVs there is.
Reasons to buy:
- Airy cabin
- Good looks
- Impressive luggage capacity
How good does it look?
Citroen has built a reputation around its uniqueness, and the Citroen C3 Picasso certainly stands out a mile from other small MPVs. The lines are a little boxy, but there are flamboyant details all over the car and, overall, it looks great. It’s not the only small MPV that’s striking to look at: the Kia Soul and Skoda Roomster also offer interesting takes on the formula. To our eye, though, the C3 Picasso’s looks are smarter and will appeal to more people. Be aware, though, that entry-level VT cars miss out on alloy wheels..
What's the interior like?
The C3 Picasso has an upmarket feel inside. The dashboard is made from attractively textured black plastic and there are some glossy panels to brighten things up further. The tall windows give a general feel of airiness and, because the window pillars are so skinny, your visibility is fantastic. There’s plenty of adjustment for your driving position and the dash controls are clearly laid out. However, the high driving position makes the floor-mounted handbrake and cup holders a long stretch to reach.
How practical is it?
The C3 Picasso’s tall roof means everyone gets generous headroom, while the amount of rear legroom you get will depend on where the sliding rear seats are set. It’s generous with the seat slid to the back of its runners, which gives you a 385-litre boot. This can be extended to a very impressive 500 litres by sliding the bench all the way forward, but rear kneeroom becomes a little tight. The rear seats are split 60/40, giving you more versatility, and you can fold them flat quickly and easily. In Exclusive trim the front passenger seat folds flat allowing longer objects to be transported.
What's it like to drive?
In this class ride comfort is important and, in this respect, the C3 Picasso is very good. It soaks up bumps well, and road and engine noise is well suppressed. The steering is accurate in corners and the Picasso feels lighter and more nimble than its height suggests. A tiny bonnet, vertical tailgate and excellent visibility – helped by those thin pillars at either side of the windscreen – make it easy to place the car in tight spots.
How powerful is it?
Four engines are available: two petrols and two diesels. The entry-level 1.4-litre petrol with 94bhp, will be perky enough for most buyers and, while the 118bhp 1.6 is a little faster against the stopwatch, you’ll struggle to notice the difference. Both diesels are 1.6-litre motors, with 91bhp or 113bhp, and both deliver lively acceleration and impressive smoothness.
How much will it cost me?
Prices for the C3 Picasso are competitive by class standards, but because Citroen dealers are so willing to give big discounts to sweeten the deal, you’ll get plenty off the sticker price. You’ll need to as well, because resale values aren’t all that good and a hefty discount will help offset your depreciation losses. Both the petrol models return around 44mpg according to official figures, while the diesels both get upwards of 60mpg, the lower-powered unit getting closer to 70mpg.
How reliable is it?
Citroen doesn’t have the best of reputations in this area, but the brand’s respectable mid-table performance in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer rankings should give you some peace of mind that your car is unlikely to let you down mechanically. Some of the more lightweight materials in the cabin do mark pretty easily, though.
How safe is it?
This is an area of vital importance for a family-focused car, but the C3 Picasso is a little disappointing. Only a handful of the models available get stability control as standard and entry-level VT cars only get four airbags rather than the six you get in other versions. What’s more, the car only scored four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, where most cars these days achieve the full five stars.
How much equipment do I get?
Trim levels VT, VTR+ and Exclusive are available, all coming with remote locking, CD player with steering wheel controls, trip computer, electric front windows, front seat storage and an adjustable boot floor. The VTR+ is fitted with alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning and Bluetooth. Exclusive trim adds dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, tinted rear windows and automatic lights and wipers.
Fun looks, ingeniously used space and clever storage solutions make the Citroen C3 Picasso the Swiss Army knife of small cars. With a comfortable ride and neat handling, it’s also a good car to drive. If you’re after a small MPV, it should be on your shortlist.