MOTORS REVIEW: Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive

Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi ExclusiveCitroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
BOXED UP AND READY TO GO...Citroen’s new Spacebox

Engine: 1.6-litre, turbocharged, diesel.

Power: 109bhp and 177lb.ft.

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.2 seconds and 114mph

Fuel economy: 57mpg (combined)

CO2 emissions: 130g/km

Price: £15,595

For: Compact dimensions but huge, airy interior space. Comfort. Flexibility.

Against: Still not the coolest means of transport.

Rating: ****

ONCE you start a family it seems almost inevitable that your stylish little car is going to be retired from service in favour of something with a little more space and, almost inevitably, a lot less street cred.

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For those of us with a passion for cars it could be enough to temper the enthusiasm for the imminent arrival, indicating the first signs of a need to live life as a grown-up, of changing priorities.

This new set of priorities bring more considered choices, decisions taken out of necessity, of directions chosen by the head rather than the heart.

They bring that overwhelming weight of consideration that sees you making the resigned move from the 'Sports Cars' section of Autotrader to 'MPVs and Estates.'

Ten years ago, when the 'people carrier' was king, the result of said car search would result in the purchase of a vehicle so achingly bland that it felt as though you'd had the 98 octane transfused from your veins as you taken the decision (as Ewan McGregor once said) to "choose life."

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Thankfully, the advent of the gratuitous 4x4 SUV meant that producers of the 'people carrier'—now the multi-purpose vehicle—had to up their game and inject family transport with a dose of style.

And this, Citroen's new C3 Picasso, is the latest proof of such a shift.

It's so cool it even has a nickname—the Spacebox.

Priced from £11,495 to £15,595 the C3 Picasso is available in three specifications and with a choice of four engines, developed in partnership with BMW, including the range-topping Exclusive specification and 109bhp 1.6-litre HDi diesel engine tested here.

Exclusive packs electronic folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors among its perks.

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Although not the cleanest engine of the range, the 110bhp unit offers decent urge, thanks to an 'overboost' function, CO2 emissions of 130g/km and around 57mpg.

A sprint to 62mph should take around 11 seconds and the top speed is 114mph.

Citroen expects 60 per cent of its UK customers to go for one of the two petrol engines but the relatively refined and frugal diesel seems like a top choice.

Citroen, Peugeot and BMW have cause for celebration when it comes to the results of their engine development partnership.

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Still lead by the principles that saw Citroen's original Picasso achieve phenomenal success the C3 is more compact and adds an element fun.

Deep front skirts, a bold face sharing elements of the latest C5 saloon, bulging wheel arches, roof rails and a rear featuring clear glass light clusters, all add to the sense that the C3 Picasso represents a bang up-to-date interpretation of the MPV format.

There is a nod to the rugged SUV but the lower ground clearance and high roof leave few illusions as to the Picasso's priorities—interior space.

Despite being just 8cm longer and 2.7cm wider than a Vauxhall Corsa, the tall, square-edged dimensions and huge glass area (upto 4.52 square metres) that forms the C3 Picasso's cabin brings a real sense of space.

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Up front, there's an upright seating position, great forward visibility thanks to Citroen's glass-filled A-pillars and ample leg room.

The long reach down to the floor to pull on the handbrake and the thick-spoked steering wheel's obstruction of the steering column-mounted stereo and cruise control buttons, are the only ergonomic drawbacks.

In the rear, a split rear bench can be slid fore and aft to make the most of leg room or boot space, and can be folded flat, level with the 500 litre boot space (with rear shelf installed), to liberate a 1,506 litres of boot space.

Head room is sufficient for a seven footer.

Citroen's long-acknowledged expertise in supple suspension is present once again and, while the C3 Picasso was never especially fast or engaging, it absorbs more bumps than a Slipknot fan in mosh pit.

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The ride is treacly smooth and though the shift of the five-speed gearbox, brakes and steering feel a little too light and woolly, a sense of cocooned isolation from the outside world make this one seriously relaxed and refined cruiser.

If it comes to sacrificing a sporty car in the name of family life, therefore, the C3 Picasso might prove something of a disappointment.

But due to a compelling combination of strengths it is an ideal alternative to anything from a new hatchback to a full-blown MPV.

Priorities, it seems, are something that Citroen are now very much aware of...and they're giving you the flexibility to juggle more than a few.

 

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