The basics of space, safety and cost-effectiveness are all taken care of, but where this model really excels is in the other things: style, technology and a very emotive feel. By People Carrying standards, it's a bit special.
On the move in a C4 Picasso, the driving experience is a little bit different from what it would be in other rival family MPVs. There isn’t much fun to be had in terms of driving dynamics but in compensation, you float over road imperfections, marvel at the unusually hushed levels of refinement and enjoy the benefits of a commanding driving position that’s a huge help at roundabouts or when parking and, with the panoramic screen, makes it seem like you’re suddenly viewing the world in high definition.
Under the bonnet, much has changed since this car’s original launch, Citroen having replaced all of its mainstream engines in more recent times. The downsized 1. 2-litre three cylinder PureTech turbo unit that now serves for petrol people, available in a choice of outputs - either 110 or 130bhp. Alternatively, there’s even more efficient BlueHDi diesel technology based primarily around a 1. 6-litre powerplant offered with either 100 or 120bhp. Both derivatives manage 74. 3mpg in the combined cycle and around 100g/km of CO2. If you want more pulling power, a 2. 0-litre BlueHDi 150 variant is available at the top of the range.
If you want to make the look of an MPV more interesting, you’ve basically got two options. One is to make it lower and more aggressively styled – but that’ll affect practicality. The other way is to make your People Carrier look technologically sophisticated, trendy and futuristic – which is the approach Citroen has taken here. A huge proportion of this vehicle's original development budget was lavished on its design, both inside and out.
We liked it back at this model’s original launch in 2013 and we still think this Picasso to be an eye-catching thing. Obviously Citroen does too, for the French maker hasn’t made many aesthetic changes as part of this facelift. There’s a smaller lower grille surrounding the numberplate and you get extra chrome trim around the high-set daytime running lights.
Well the first thing you’ll notice is the Panoramic windscreen. Push up the sunvisor and your normal upward 28-degree angle of vision is increased to a massive 108-degrees.
The dashboard is dominated by twin screens. Most new cars have some sort of central infotainment screen these days like the Citroen’s tablet-style 7-inch ‘Touch Drive Interface’ lower display, but more unusual is the snazzily futuristic 12-inch panoramic HD panel up top which replaces the normal set of conventional-dialled instrument gauges.
The lower monitor now includes a ‘Mirror Screen’ feature, so you can duplicate your smartphone’s display onto the monitor via either the ‘Apple CarPlay’ or the ‘MirrorLink’ Android systems. Most models also get an upgraded Navigation system too, the 3D ‘Citroen Connect Nav’ set-up, cleverer in that the screen recognises a wider variety of contact points, so you can pinch and swipe as you would on a smartphone – or use voice recognition if that’s easier.
So how will children fare once they’re installed rearwards and ready to plug their gaming equipment into one of the three 12v sockets scattered around the car? Well, pull open the rear doors that open wide to a 65-degree angle for excellent access and it’s certainly pretty spacious, with comfort you can properly appreciate thanks to a proper seating arrangement. Unlike many People Carriers, this one doesn’t position the unfortunate middle rear passenger with legs astride a central transmission tunnel and perched on some hard and narrow piece of bulging foam. Instead, there’s a completely flat floor and a rear cabin seating area made up of three separate identically-sized chairs that can be reclined, folded flat or slid backwards and forwards independently of one another.
When the hatch is raised, you’ll find yourself gazing at the largest cargo area in the class. Even with the seats slid right back, it’s 537-litres in size up to parcel shelf height – and you can increase that to as much as 630-litres if you push the three chairs forward.
Not every family needs seven seats in an MPV and for those that don’t, the C4 Picasso has always offered a smartly-styled, hi-tech equipped and very practical alternative.
This second generation version developed this proposition, then further sharpened it with the well-judged package of revisions we’ve been reviewing. In its original form, the MK2 model’s futuristic looks always seemed a little out of kilter with the old-tech petrol engines and rather basic levels of media connectivity provided. With all this now sorted, the C4 Picasso offers perfect proof that a People Carrier can do more than just provide comfortable, efficient transport.
If that sounds appealing and you’re in the market for a model like this one, then we think you’ll find a lot here you’ll like.