First Drive

2015 Citroen C3 Picasso PureTech 110 review

The Citroen C3 Picasso is one of our favourite MPVs. However, our preferred 1.4 petrol version has been dropped, so here we drive its replacement, the three-cylinder PureTech

Words ByRory White

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We've long thought the Citroen C3 Picasso one of the best value ways to move a small family around, and we cemented that opinion when it won an MPV price point in our 2015 Car of the Year awards.

However, Citroen has been making changes to the line-up now it has a brand new range of engines at its disposal. That means where there used to be an entry-level 1.4 and pokier 1.6 four-cylinder petrols, there is now a single turbocharged 1.2 three-cylinder option.

It's the same with the diesels. Before, you could choose between two versions of a 1.6 HDi diesel, but now there's just the one choice; a BlueHDi 100 - albeit still in 1.6 form. Both engines are now Euro 6 compliant.

We're driving the new petrol, which compared with our old favourite 1.4, improves CO2 emissions by 30g/km, now down to 115g/km, and official combined fuel economy is better by more than 11mpg, now 56.5mpg.

What's the Citroen C3 Picasso PureTech 110 like inside?

Aside from the engines, there have been no further changes, so the C3 Picasso continues to impress with its interior space. It's only slightly longer than your average supermini, but it's a lot roomier inside thanks to that high roofline, which provides plenty of head room for all occupants.

The rear bench seat is split 60/40, and the two pieces slide back and forth individually. However, even with the seats as far back as they’ll go, the Citroen doesn’t have as much rear legroom as a Ford B-Max. That said, it does have more than a Nissan Note.

The Picasso does have a bigger boot than its Ford rival, though. Boot capacity ranges from a generous 385 litres to an estate car-rivalling 500 litres (depending on the position of the rear seats), and the rear bench can be folded down flat when you need even more space.

There’s also an adjustable boot floor that – in its highest settings with the rear seats folded down – gives a totally flat load bay with no boot lip.

Forward vision is exceptional because of the wrap-around windscreen with skinny pillars, and drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to make themselves comfortable, thanks to a good range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel.

The dashboard is also nicely textured, and the top of it is covered in a rippled plastic that is soft and dense to the touch. However, elsewhere - such as the switchgear and further down the dashboard and doors - the plastics are harder.

Our car was fitted with Citroen's optional (Β£750) eMyWay sat-nav system, but the C3's infotainment is starting to look and feel dated compared with the latest offerings.

There's a 7.0in screen located high up on the dash, but it's controlled using fiddly buttons lower down on the dash, and the on-screen graphics are quite cluttered. All the buttons you'd usually find on a multifunction wheel are actually located on stalks behind the wheel instead and are hidden in the process.

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, alloys and air-conditioning.

Range-topping Exclusive cars come with luxuries such as climate control, electric folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors.

What's the Citroen C3 Picasso PureTech 110 like to drive?

It's fair to say the old 1.4 wasn't the C3 Picasso's strongest asset - we chose it because it kept the price down for families on a budget rather than for its outright performance. Happily, this new turbocharged three-cylinder is a far better prospect.

Throttle response is good, and while there's a short pause while its turbo spins up, the subsequent pull is pleasingly strong yet not too abrupt. It's also more flexible than the older unit, pulling from low revs in third and fourth gear without much fuss.

It's marginally less refined, though. Although there's less noise from the engine at high revs, there's certainly more vibration felt via the wheels, pedals and gear lever than the smoother - but boomier - 1.4. The gear lever action itself isn't the slickest, and there's some wind noise around the screen at speed, but road noise is well contained.

Citroen has opted for a soft suspension set-up on the C3 Picasso, meaning large obstacles such as speed bumps are well absorbed, but sharper-edged potholes tend to thud into the cabin - at least on the largest-possible 16in alloy wheels of our Executive-trim test car. Undulating roads also mean the body starts to wander vertically. The softer set-up means the C3 leans more in tight bends than rivals such as the Ford B-Max, but it never gets terribly out of shape.

The Citroen's steering is light, which is good news for town driving, but offers very little fun. Then again, the majority of small MPVs are very much the same.

Should I buy one?

Despite being more powerful, cleaner, more frugal and just as spacious and practical, the C3 Picasso's list price has only risen by around Β£350 when you compare the old 1.4 and new 1.2 engines in our favoured VTR+ trim. The Β£125 drop in annual road tax itself goes some way to offsetting that cost, let alone the cheaper fuel bills. Importantly, versus its equivalent main rivals, the C3 is still the cheaper proposition.

Even better, the list price should really be taken with a pinch of salt, because traditionally the C3 Picasso has attracted healthy discounts. It's a little too early to confirm the sort of dealer discounts available on this new engine, but we'd wager they will be similarly generous.

So, the C3 Picasso is better to drive and cheaper to run. If you're a family on a budget, then, you should still have it at the very top of your shopping list.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Ford B-Max

Nissan Note

Citroen C3 Picasso PureTech 110 Exclusive

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol

Price from Β£16,650

Power 108bhp

Torque 151lb ft

0-62mph 11.8 seconds

Top speed 116mph

Fuel economy 56.5mpg

CO2 115g/km

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Review

CitroΓ«n C3 Picasso

What Car? SaysRated 4 out of 5
Owners sayRated 4 out of 5

The Citroen C3 Picasso combines practicality with style, and a cosseting ride with secure handling. Running costs are affordable, too.