Petrol fans only have one choice, a 1.6 with 118bhp. It’s lively enough, but most buyers will go for one of the diesels due to their lower running costs and stronger mid-range pull. The flexible 108bhp 1.6 unit is the pick of the bunch, but the 148bhp 2.0-litre provides more pace.
At higher speeds, the C4 Picasso is smooth and composed, filtering out all but the worst bumps. However, the ride is crashy around town and there's too much float over undulating roads. This slackness in the suspension also means a lot of body sway through corners, but it grips well. The lightweight steering makes parking easy, but offers little feel.
Both diesel engines are very quiet when cruising and largely unobtrusive at other times. Wind noise is well suppressed, too, but some road and suspension noise can penetrate the cabin. This is a very refined MPV, particularly with the optional laminated side window glass. The gearboxes aren't so impressive. The manual has a long-winded, imprecise gearchange and the EGS semi-auto is slow in auto mode, although it's much better in manual mode.
The Citroen is a bit pricier than many rivals, but huge discounts will be easy to negotiate, and this will help to offset the heavy depreciation it will suffer. For the best economy and lowest emissions, stick with an eHDi diesel-engined version - it averages the best part of 60mpg.
Step inside the C4 Picasso and you can't help but notice how classy the interior looks. Investigate further and you'll realise that everything feels well screwed together, too. Soft-touch plastics and chrome highlights add to the sophisticated look, while owners rated the car's reliability as average in the 2012 JD Power survey.
The C4 Picasso is stuffed with safety kit. Twin front, side and window airbags are standard, as is stability control, which should help you avoid an accident in the first place. There are also four ISOFIX child-seat mountings. Deadlocks (which prevent the doors being opened if a window is smashed) will deter thieves, while optional laminated side windows further boost safety and security.
Most of the Picasso’s functions are controlled via buttons on the fixed-hub steering wheel - those buttons are very small and cluttered together. They aren’t very clearly marked, either. However, most drivers will be able to get comfortable because there's plenty of adjustment, and all-round visibility is good thanks to a vast glass area and slim windscreen pillars.
Five adults will be comfortable in the C4 Picasso. The three identical seats in the rear row all slide back and forth individually, plus the backrest angle can be altered. Not only that, but the rear seats couldn't be easier to fold down: all you do is pull a cord on the side of each chair. The big 500-litre boot is a square shape and the loading lip is very low. There's also plenty of stowage space in the cabin.
The entry-level Edition trim provides most of the kit you need, including air-con, cruise control, rear parking sensors and four electric windows. Bluetooth is the only thing missing, but it’s an affordable option. Platinum trim provides it as standard, along with tinted windows, climate control and automatic lights and wipers.
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