The Citroen C3 Picasso is a compact MPV rivalling the Ford B-MAX, Vauxhall Meriva and Nissan Note. It can seat five people and has a tall boot, offering a reasonable amount of luggage space. It lacks the quirky sliding and rear opening side doors of the B-MAX and Meriva respectively, but still offers a chic interior, pleasant driving experience and a dash of style.
Diesel engines have proved popular, with the 1.6-litre 91bhp model providing reasonable acceleration to 62mph in 13.5 seconds. There’s also a tuned version of the same engine with 113bhp, dropping the same benchmark to 11.2 seconds. Importantly, it also comes fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, which is slicker than the standard five-speed and improves its motorway manners.
The entry-level model is fitted with a 1.4-litre petrol producing 94bhp, while a 118bhp 1.6-litre is also available. The latter can be fitted with an ETG6 automatic, but we’d avoid it because its shifts are quite jerky compared with the best automatic models from rival manufacturers.
Ride and Handling
A small MPV might not sound like a recipe for excitement, but the C3 Picasso is rather pleasing to drive.
A small MPV might not sound like a recipe for excitement, but the C3 Picasso is rather pleasing to drive. Its supermini-based chassis isn’t affected too badly by its extra bodywork and this small MPV is happy to be steered into corners without too much body roll, while offering up plenty of grip. Happily this handling ability doesn’t come at the cost of ride comfort, something Citroen’s have been famous for in the past. Uneven roads are soaked up calmly, with only larger potholes felt in the cabin.
Interior and Equipment
The C3 Picasso was designed by Donato Coco and Jean-Pierre Ploue and unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
The C3 Picasso ushered in a new quality of fit and finish for Citroen interiors, with an attractive piano black centre console and soft-touch dashboard. It’s also available with a fragrance refill for the air-con, wafting a pleasant scent through the cabin. Boxy proportions mean there’s lots of headroom and a light and airy feel for front and rear passengers. The 500-litre boot is far bigger than you’ll get in a Ford Focus and larger than its rivals the Nissan Note (411 litres) and Vauxhall Meriva (400 litres). Trim levels included VT, VTR+, Selection and Exclusive. The VT model looks stylish enough if you look beyond the steel wheels with covers, but does without essentials like air-con. We’d recommend VTR+ which should keep you cool in summer and has 16-inch alloy wheels. Selection adds gloss black exterior trim and body colour door mirrors, floor mats and roof bars. Plump for Exclusive to enjoy heated and folding door mirrors as well as extra storage compartments, a folding front passenger seat and rear parking sensors.
Choose wisely and the C3 Picasso is very cheap to run.
Choose wisely and the C3 Picasso is very cheap to run. The 1.6-litre HDi 90 returns up to 68.9mpg and costs only £20 to tax, while the HDi 115 averages 61.4mpg and costs £10 more to tax. The petrol engines aren’t quite as green, managing around 45mpg and costing between £130 and £145 to tax. The Vauxhall Meriva manages a best economy of 74.3mpg, while the Ford B-MAX can achieve 70.6mpg. Prices for the C3 Picasso span from £13k to £18k, around the same as the Ford, while the Vauxhall also starts at £13k but costs up to £22k in its top trims. A funky design and good reputation means the Picasso should hold its value as well as the Vauxhall, but the B-MAX may do better because it’s such a recent model.
There’s a lot to like about the C3 Picasso, it’s a practical small five-seater MPV, without a frumpy image or stodgy handling. Choose a small diesel engine and it’s also very easy on the wallet. Its small size also makes it a doddle to drive in built-up cities and parking is no bother at all. In fact, its biggest disadvantage is that it does without the clever doors of the Ford B-MAX, making access – especially in tight parking spaces – no easier than a conventional car. If this doesn’t worry you, the Citroen is definitely worth a look.