"The comfortable C4 Picasso mixes good looks with a generous helping of practicality and a brilliant interior."
The C4 Picasso is a brilliant family car: it's big on the outside, feels bigger inside, and has plenty of stowage space. Its good looks are matched by an interior that's both well built and stylishly designed. The rear seats fold flat, and there's a huge boot. All versions – even basic VTR models – offer air-conditioning plus a host of airbags and safety kit. The two diesel engines are better than the petrol units, as they’re more economical and eco-friendly. If you want more space, the C4 Grand Picasso has seven seats.
You’ll always be reminded you’re in a big car in the C4 Picasso. Its main issue is body movement around corners or while braking. The EGS automatic gearbox makes low-speed gearchanges that are slow and ponderous. Visibility from the driver's seat is excellent, though, because you sit high and it seems like the entire upper half of the car is made of glass. Unusually for a modern car, the windscreen pillars are thin, and the screen itself is panoramic, extending over your head. Of the four engines inthe range, the two diesels are best: they offer much greater economy than the two petrols, and their pulling power means strong acceleration in all gears.
Over poorly surfaced roads, the C4 Picasso remains comfortable – the car glides over imperfections in the tarmac. Occasionally though, it will bounce uncomfortably over speed bumps and the biggest potholes. Even so, we say that the C4 Picasso is a relaxing car for both driver and passengers. The amount of space on offer certainly helps, as does the fact the individual chairs can be adjusted for legroom and their backs recline. The dashboard layout is unusual, however; although pleasant to look at, the rather haphazard button layout takes some getting used to.
Numerous recall notices have been issued. A 30th overall place in the 2010 Driver Power survey is the highest for a people carrier, and a very good showing from Citroen, while the car achieved a full five stars in the Euro NCAP test. Traction control and electronic stability control is standard on all models. But numerous recall notices have been issued by VOSA for cars built between 2007 and 2009.
A massive 500-litre boot extending to 1,734 litres with the rear seats folded means the C4 Picasso is about equal to rivals like the Renault Scenic (437 to 1,837 litres) and the Peugeot 5008 (512 to 1,604 litres) for storage space. Touches like deep doorpockets, under-floor storage and seats that fold down individually with the simple tug of a lever make the Citroen a great family car. The C4 Picasso registered a top ten place for practicality in the 2010 Driver Power survey.
Value for money
On paper, the C4 Picasso costs more than its direct rivals. However, hefty discounts are usually available if you negotiate hard enough. VTR+ specification offers the best balance of price and equipment.
The basic 1.6-litre petrol engine returns only 37.7mpg combined economy, compared with 38.7mpg for the more powerful, more modern 1.6-litre THP turbocharged petrol engine. However they’re both trounced by the 53.3mpg from the 1.6-litre 110bhp diesel – the engine to choose for low costs. The automatic gearbox, unusually, offers even better economy than the five-speed manual.