We’ve had the Citroen C Picasso with the BlueHDi 150 2.0 litre diesel and Flair trim in for review and test. Can a Citroen MPV still sell in 2017?
There was a time, not so very long ago, when families which needed to move their brood and their stuff opted for the practicality of an MPV, even if doing so seemed to signal the, at least temporary, grudging acceptance that driving would no longer be a pleasure.
But MPVs/People Carriers have made way for a range of SUVs from every car maker on the planet, promising to look a lot cooler than an MPV, keep you safer by riding high and promise to be nicer to drive than an MPV.
But some car makers have kept faith with the MPV, and perhaps no one does it better, than Citroen with the C5 Picasso and the bigger C4 Grand Picasso. And this week we’ve had the latest C4 Picasso in to see what it offers.
Titivated last year with a new nose, some LED lights, a couple of new engine options and some extra technology, so this week we’ve had the Citroen C4 Picasso Flair BlueHDi 150 in for review and test.
Is there still a place for an MPV on car buyers’ radar in 2017?
Citroen C4 Picasso Inside & Out
There’s no mistaking that the C4 Picasso is a Citroen, and although it may not be quite as individual as Citroen’s once were, it still stands out as individual.
At the front, the wide, slim Citroen grille with its centre Chevron, small-ish headlights and big air intake at the bottom make a proper style statement, the new LED lights at the back are a nice touch and the 18″ alloys on this Flair model add presence.
It’s tough to make a two-box MPV design look individual, and even appealing, but Citroen has managed to do that with the Picasso. You certainly wouldn’t confuse the Citroen with an MPV from any other car maker.
Inside is light, airy and roomy thanks to the big glass area, panoramic windscreen and big Panoramic roof, and the dashboard is a sweeping statement of modernity, with nice soft touch plastics and a pair of centrally located screens.
Extra goodies in this Flair model include privacy glass, mood lighting, leather and cloth upholstery, reversing camera, keyless, fold-down seatback tables and a hands-free tailgate.
But that’s on top of stuff you already get lower down the range including Climate, Mirror Screen, Cruise, DAB, adjustable rear seats, auto lights and wipers and more.
In terms of practicality, the Picasso has lots to offer, with comfortable and accommodating seats in the front as well as three identical seats in the back – which move fore and aft too – and let you put in three Isofix seats if you need to.
If you don’t need three Isofix seats in the back there’s room for three adults, and they all get decent head and leg room, even in the middle seat.
The boot’s decent too – and it’s hands-free in this Flair model – with a big opening and low load lip, with up to 630 litres of space with the back seats in place (when they’re moved forward) and a decent 1.850 litres with the back seats folded.
Add to that seemingly endless storage spaces in the cabin and you have an MPV which really does suit the needs of families.
C4 Picasso On the Road
No one buys an MPV for its cutting-edge dynamics or its outright performance, so don’t expect the C4 Picasso to be any different. Because it’s not.
But what it is good at is delivering a quiet and smooth experience if you’re sensible with the rate you want to row along at.
Even with this Flair model’s bigger 18″ alloys, the Citroen still manages to deal well with poor roads (are there any which aren’t?) with dismissive nonchalance, and it’s also well insulated from stuff like tyre and wind noise. So all you’ll need to put up with is the “Are we there yet?” chorus from the back seat.
It can protest if you hit big potholes, but no more than any other car would, and Citroen has done a very good job of judging the setup for the way in which the C4 Picasso will be driven for most of the time, keeping the kiddies from decorating the back of your head and the front seat passenger appeased in the process.
Get a bit of a shake on and the 148bhp 2.0 litre diesel under the bonnet is reasonably lively, with good lumps of torque and a reasonable turn of speed, and does manage to pretty frugal with official economy at 65.7mpg. We managed 48.4mpg, probably helped by not thrashing about the place all the time.
Yes, it’s a bit roly-poly if you attack bends too vigorously, and the steering doesn’t feed back a huge amount of information. But the brakes are good and the gearbox is easy to use.
It all adds up to a setup which is pitched for what the MPV is meant to be best at; ferrying a brood around in comfort, making trundling round urban landscapes less irritating than it often is, and sitting on a motorway with all passengers settled and happy.
C4 Picasso Verdict
If you’re looking for a way to move your regular-sized family around, the Citroen C4 Picasso is a sensible option (and the Grand C4 Picasso works well too if your loins have been working overtime).
It offers plenty of equipment in this Picasso Flair (at £27,020 – £29,720 with the extra bits Citroen has optioned up), a comfortable ride almost all of the time, good economy, ample space, good ‘stuff lugging’ ability – and it’s a bit different too.
True, you’re not going to get excited by the drive – although it’s competent – but you will find it calms the passengers and keeps them happy. And let’s face it, if you are ferrying your brood that’s more important than tail-out back road playing and the traffic light Grand Prix.
But the C4 Picasso is up against competition these days from SUVs and crossovers – particularly this five-seat Picasso – and the whole sector is finding it harder and harder to grab a share of a market which is piling in to SUVs in a big way.
But if you screw on your sensible head, and aren’t swayed by fashion trends, the C4 Picasso makes far more sense than an SUV ever will for a family and their stuff.
But fashion is a funny thing, and the way things are going MPVs like this Picasso will soon be dead and buried. And if the Citroen C4 Picasso doesn’t sell well enough you can probably say goodbye to the sector for good, because it really is a very good car.
And if it doesn’t continue to sell well, no other MPV is likely too.
Citroen C4 Picasso Flair BlueHdi Quick Specs
- Engine: 19970cc, 148bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 19.7 seconds / Top Speed 130mph
- Economy: 65.7mpg – Official / 48.4mpg – Test
- Emissions: 111g/km
- Price: £27,010 / As tested £29,720
- Test car supplied by Citroen UK