Citroen C3 Picasso buyers can choose from four engines: 94bhp 1.4- and 118bhp 1.6-litre petrols or 89bhp and 113bhp 1.6 diesels. The 1.4 petrol is worth considering if you do most of your driving around town, but it feels a bit weedy on faster roads. The 1.6 petrol offers useful extra muscle, while both diesels are strong and flexible.
The Citroen wafts along serenely thanks to its supple suspension. The soft set-up does cause the body to bob up and down on undulating roads, but the Picasso doesn’t get too out of shape through tight twists and turns. The steering is usefully light around town, and weights up reassuringly enough at speed – even though it doesn’t offer the same sense of connection you get from a Ford B-Max.
Some wind noise can be heard around the windscreen, and range-topping Exclusive models come with roof bars, which also kick up a bit of din. However, the C3 Picasso is otherwise a refined car. Road noise is extremely well contained and the engines are generally smooth and quiet. The long-throw gearbox isn't the slickest you'll ever use, though.
The C3 Picasso isn’t that cheap, but Citroen dealers are famous for big discounts, so consider the brochure price a starting point for negotiation. The petrols both average over 40mpg, while the 113bhp diesel manages 58.8mpg and the 89bhp unit does 67.2mpg. The diesel engines sit in low company car tax bands, too. Just don't expect the C3 Picasso to hold its value particularly well.
In the past, small Citroens have had low-rent interiors, but the Picasso’s cabin is actually quite classy. There are metallic highlights around the vents and there’s a digital instrument binnacle on top of the dashboard. The dashboard itself is nicely textured, even if the plastics themselves are hard. Also, owners rated the car above average for mechanical reliability in the 2012 JD Power ownership satisfaction survey.
Front airbags are standard across the range, but it's disappointing that entry-level model miss out on curtain airbags and stability control; both of these things cost extra. An immobiliser, marked parts and deadlocks should all make life difficult for thieves.
The cabin feels airy, and forward vision is exceptional thanks to a wrap-around windscreen with skinny pillars. Drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to make themselves comfortable, too, because there's a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. It's just a pity that the wheel obscures part of the well-ordered centre console.
The C3 Picasso is only slightly longer than conventional superminis, but it's a lot roomier inside, because the high roofline allows more upright seating. The rear bench seat is split 60/40, with the two pieces sliding back and forth so you can make the most of all that space. Boot capacity ranges from a generous 385 litres to an estate car-rivalling 500, and the rear bench can be folded flat in a jiffy.
Every C3 Picasso comes with remote central locking, front electric windows and a CD player, but you have to upgrade to the mid-level VTR+ trim to get rear electric windows, alloy wheels and air-conditioning. Range-topping Exclusive cars also come with luxuries such as climate control, electric folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors.
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Not a bad bet, but if you can stretch to it, we'd recommend going for the 1.6 petrol version. The extra performance will make your life a little easier.