C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi 110 Exclusive
MPV sector showed one of the
strongest rises in UK sales for the
first half of this year. Reflecting that,
Citroens six month sales were up
by 21%. Not so surprising, given that
Citroen are big for the variety of
MPVs they sell, including the latest
C3 Picasso. But is it a practical work
of art or not?
IN ADDITION TO THE AWARD-WINNING C3 PICASSO, Citroen also offer other people-carriers:
the C4 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso, the C8, the Berlingo Multispace and the Nemo
Multispace and, until recently, they had the long-serving and very attractively
priced Xsara Picasso. And I could also include the seven-seat C-Crosser SUV
4x4. Easy to see why the name Citroen has become synonymous with 'family-friendly'.
Having a blank week in my diary at least as far as attending new model
press launches and with the sun shining and a C3 Picasso 110 Exclusive
sitting on my driveway, what better time to take a holiday in Cornwall?
Usually on press launches we only get a relatively short time to experience
what new vehicles offer, so an extended real-life experience on how something
really performs is always very valuable. So, along with my grown-up daughter
and my wife, we load up the C3 and head West.
The C3 Picasso has received numerous awards and accolades since its launch fifteen
months ago but does it really do what it says on the box? Is it really as practical
as a Tupperware box?
I had finally squeezed our essential baggage into the load space and with my
wife, daughter and myself aboard, we eventually set off. I should mention that
when loading the luggage I did have to fold down one of the rear seats just
to get everything in. Being a supermini-sized MPV (at just over four metres
in length), in real life the compact C3 Picasso is perhaps too small for family
The exterior styling will
Some think it looks very
modern and stylish;
others think its extreme
boxy shape is a step
not to say it's not fine for older couples and the family dog (the main users
I discovered during the South West trip), likely okay for young mums taking
children to school and even young active couples who just need two seats but
with loads of carrying space: with all four/five seats in use the boot space
is a compact 500 litres; with them folded down this triples to 1,506 litres.
As such, the C3 Picasso offers a practically-designed, boxy luggage area with
a low rear sill to make loading easier and, I suspect, not too high for the
dog to jump in and out!
Once underway two further issues came to light. The armrest (not standard on
all models) on the driver's seat gets in the way of buckling up the seat belt
and operating the handbrake. Yes it folds up out of the way, but it is nonetheless
annoying. The second issue was the lack of support the seats offer: the suspension
does a first class job of ironing out the bumps and potholes but the seats,
although they initially felt comfortable, after an hour or so we found offered
very little support and while the cry of "are we there yet?" wasn't actually
voiced, my two female passengers did request a comfort break to stretch their
legs and ease their backs.
In truth the break did me no harm either as the foot-space for the driver is
limited around the clutch pedal and I couldn't get quite enough legroom to drive
the vehicle comfortably. None of these issues showed up during my press launch
road test, so you now see what I mean about having the benefit of a real-life
I had the 1.6 HDi 110 turbodiesel Exclusive top-of-the-range version for my
trip which has a price tag of £16,545 but other models are available from £12,445
with 1.4/1.6 petrol and 1.6 HDi 90 diesel engines, all with manual gearboxes.
Trim and equipment levels for mainstream models range from VT to VTR+ to Exclusive
but not all engines are available with all options. There is an additional Airdream+
with a 1.6 HDi 90 version mainly for business and fleet customers.
at the specification choices, VTR+ looks the best, most cost-effective choice
and I rather suspect most families who generally cover lower mileages will go
for the 1.6-litre, 118bhp petrol engine which officially returns 40.9mpg in
the Combined Cycle. With CO2 emissions of 159g/km the annual road tax is £155.
This model, with the VTR+ specification, comes at the attractive price of £14,295.
The 109bhp turbodiesel
unit will officially return
57.6mpg I recorded
a very creditable
48.6mpg in real-life...
test version, the 109bhp turbodiesel unit (known as '110'), will officially
return 57.6mpg and I recorded a very creditable 48.6mpg in real-life. This included
450 miles of motorway and dual carriageway driving to and from Cornwall plus
another 400 miles of typical Cornish hilly roads and lanes plus the usual stop-start
of town shopping trips. With low CO2 emissions of 130g/km the First Year road
tax rate is £0 and then £90 a year onwards. If this model is going to double
up as a company car, then the Benefit-in-Kind rate is 18%. For the record, the
insurance rates are low too, ranging from group 10 to group 14 for the range-topping
model I tested.
So what equipment do you get for our money? Well, being Citroen well
known for their attractive packages and real-life low prices quite a
lot. All versions have as standard ABS with brake-assist, power steering, remote
central locking, panoramic windscreen, height- and reach-adjustable steering
column, scented air freshener, multi-function computer, a good sound system
with six speakers, electrically-adjustable door mirrors and front electric windows.
The specification gets more comprehensive as you move up in price so, for instance,
the Exclusive version as tested here has in addition more airbags, rear electric
windows, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, leather steering wheel, automatic
lights and wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, roof rails, 16-inch alloy
wheels and fold-down tables for the rear seats.
Being a people carrier, I would have expected that by now all models would have
the soon-to-be-compulsory ESP electronic Stability Programme they do
not. It is a £360 option and only available to special order on Exclusive versions.
And that is not good.
Exterior styling will divide people. Some think it looks very modern and stylish;
others think its extreme boxy shape is a step too far. While I am with the latter
group, I have to concede that being an elongated box makes the best use of what
space this four-metre-long MPV offers. However, being tall it suffers from bodyroll
during cornering and that gets worse if it is fully loaded. That noted, the
suspension is good, the handling agile and the steering responsive. Visibility
to the front is first class.
common-rail, direct-injection turbodiesel engine we know well from other models
from Citroen. It is strong plenty of 'grunt' with 177lb ft of torque
from 1,750rpm and it is fuel efficient, as my test figures show. Thankfully,
the engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox with sensible gear ratios
so it is responsive to drive at high or low speeds with the minimum of effort.
The common-rail, direct-
engine we know well in
other models from
Citroen: It is strong with
plenty of grunt and it is
For some the C3 Picasso will be too small for family transport and luggage carrying.
Another negative is that there's no ESP as standard. Additional criticisms include
unsupportive seats, stingy left foot space for the driver and the like-or-loathe
styling. On the other hand, plus points include the compact size, top models
are well equipped, comfortable suspension, flexible seat/load carrying facilities,
good forward visibility and a fuel- and cost-efficient diesel engine.
The C3 Picasso is good in many respects but from my real-life experience with
the family I am not convinced it really measures up for space. It is clever,
distinctive and it will fit the bill for many, but size really does matter when
it comes to family transport. The slightly larger C4 Picasso is more acceptable
it costs a bit more (with prices from £17,205), but it offers much more
in the way of useable interior space and for me it also looks much better. If
the C3 Picasso still appeals, I would strongly recommend you go for a 'fitting'
first just to see if it measures up to your real-life motoring requirements.
Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi 110 Exclusive | £16,545
Maximum speed: 114mph | 0-62mph: 12.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 48.6mpg
Power: 109bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 130g/km