"The Citroen C4 Picasso is comfortable, quick and cheap to run. There's plenty of space inside, too"
The Citroen C4 Picasso's bold, compact dimensions are genuinely eye-catching, making it an MPV that really does stand out from the crowd. It's lower and shorter than the previous generation of C4 Picasso, but actually has a extra 57mm between the front and rear wheels, which creates more space inside the car. In fact, it even has the largest boot in the compact-MPV class, plus a range of engines that are very efficient and a high-quality interior that is surprisingly stylish. We’d recommend the e-HDi 115 diesel engine, thanks to its blend of acceleration and low running costs. The less powerful 90 version feels far too underpowered when the MPV is fully loaded. And, to be honest, any buyers looking for the best handling MPV should probably consider giving the Ford C-MAX a go.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If you want the best fuel economy and tax-free CO2 emissions, we’d suggest going for the e-HDi 90, which is capable of returning 74.3mpg in combined fuel economy, while emitting only 98g/km of CO2. The engine we’d go for, though, is the e-HDi 115, which offers better performance but still manages to return an excellent 70.6mpg in economy. We do also think it's probably worth being cautious and investing in Citroen's 36-month/35,000-mile servicing package for only £449, just to make sure that long-term costs stay down. And you can even pay in installments of £12.49 per month if needs must.
Interior & comfort
The latest C4 Picasso has a more comfortable ride and comfier seats than the previous model, generally proving to be improved in all areas of comfort – it even drives over the roughest roads without any major bumps or judders. It only develops any difficulties when driven over deep potholes or train tracks, which cause the suspension to thud loudly, shaking the car about. It's also a bit unstable when driven at higher speeds, fidgeting about a bit. Fortunately it is very quiet when driven on the motorway, with hardly any audible wind noise. Passengers also have plenty of space in both the front and the back. If you add the optional Lounge Package then the front passenger also get an electrically extendable leg rest.
Practicality & boot space
Normally, cars that look especially cool make you sceptical about what sacrifices have been made inside in terms of space, flexibility and usability. Luckily, the C4 Picasso bucks this trend, excelling in this category. You get a big boot that offers 537 litres of space. That's more space than in the Ford C-MAX, Renault Scenic or Volkswagen Touran. Even better, the rears seats can be slid forward individually to expand the boot to 630 litres or to increase legroom depending on your needs at any given time. Or, of course, you can fold them flat to expand the total capacity to an impressive 1,851 litres. All three rear seats are the exact same size, which makes it easy to sit three adults comfortably at once, and also to easily fit three child seats – which is likely to be key factor for many growing families. Headroom does get a bit cramped in the car's outer seats because of the bubble-like dimensions. If you choose the C4 Picasso Exclusive or Exclusive+ then you also get an electric boot lid, while all models come fitted with a clever hidden storage compartment underneath the boot floor.
Reliability & safety
Citroen still carries a bit of a stink on its reputation for reliability, and it looks like it still has a lot of ground to make up if the results of the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey are anything to go by. Already ranked at 22nd out of 32 in the 2012 survey, Citroen actually dropped two more places in 2013, to place 24th, with poor reliability being one of the main failings. As for the C4 Picasso itself, the second-generation car is still too new to feature, but the previous model was only 131st in the list of the top 150 cars – which is thrown into stark contract by key rival the Renault Scenic coming fourth. We think the new model will do significantly, using the same platform that is being used in 20 different Peugeot and Citroen models. Plus, the engines in the C4 Picasso range have previously been tried and tested in other Citroen models without any major problems. The interior is also much better quality compared to previous Citroen models, so should prove better suited to the wear and tear that a people carrier has to weather. However, it's a something of a shame that Citroen only includes a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, especially when you compare it to the seven-year warranty that Kia offers. You do get an additional third year of dealer warranty – but only up to 60,000 miles. Safety is good in the C4 Picasso - the car secured the maximum five-star rating from the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, scoring especially well for child occupancy safety. Electronic stability control (ESP) and front, side and curtain airbags are all fitted as standard, but adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning are only available as optional extras.
Engines, drive & performance
Citroen has managed to lose 140kg of weight from the C4 Picasso, which has the effect of improving most aspects of the drive, including braking, handling and acceleration. It also feels more responsive and agile than the outgoing model, but still suffers from too much imprecision in the steering to ever approach being either sporty or fun. This is also exacerbated by excessive body roll when it drives through corners, showing just how good the Ford C-MAX actually is. For the best overall drive, we’d recommend the e-HDi 115 diesel, which is smooth and quiet while also accelerating from 0-62mph in a respectable 11.8 seconds. The 1.6-litre turbo THP 155 is the fastest in the range but it costs so much more to run that it really doesn’t make financial sense.
Price, value for money & options
The C4 Picasso gives you quite a lot for your money, and also has strong resale values in the used car market so should give you some money back when you make a second-hand deal, with only the Volkswagen Touran offering better. The range starts with entry-level VTR models, coming fitted with seven-inch colour touchscreen, air-conditioning, an electric parking brake and electric windows as standard. The top-of-the-range Exclusive+ also gets sat-nav, an additional 12-inch HD display and leather seats. However, Citroen thinks that most buyers will opt for the mid-range VTR+ spec, thanks to its good levels of equipment and accessories for the price - probably everything you’ll really need.